Olived Skin Hispanic with Acne Scars (Boxcar/rolling) - Best Treatment?

I am a Hispanic male in my mid 30's and I want to do something about my acne scars. I am a Hispanic with olive skin and am considering one of the Fraxel laser treatments. I have moderate/severe boxcar and rolling scars. I am very nervous about the possible complications that laser treatments carry with olive-skinner individuals. What is my best option for treatment?

Doctor Answers 4

Acne scar treatment in darker skin types

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I treat a large number of patients who are tanned or have naturally darker skin.   My treatment of choice for deep acne scar in such patients is direct excision of the larger acne scars followed by wire brush dermabrasion.  We place all patients on hydroquinone based creams for at lest 3 weeks prior to procedure to lessen the chance of post-procedure hyperpigmentation. With dermabrasion long term pigment loss is quite rare (I have never seen it in my practice), making it the safest resurfacing treatment method for most patients (even more so if you have olive skin).  On a different note, deep dermabrasion (which is becoming a lost art) is also very effective in reducing the acne scarring.  Hope that is helpful. All the best, Dr. Vartanian from LA. 

Glendale Facial Plastic Surgeon

Treating acne scars in dark skinned patients

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Acne scars in dark-skinned patients are a common problem.  I treat a great many patients for this condition.  I find that boxcar and rolling scars respond best to surgical treatment including subcision and excisions/dermal grafting.  I do not feel that lasers are the primary modality for treatment but rather a second line of treatment once the surgical procedures have been used to maximize skin contour.

Brian Biesman, MD
Nashville Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Subcision may be best option for acne scars that are depressed in patients of color

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Subcision may be best option for acne scars that are depressed in patients of color.  In this procedure a 1mm knife at the end of a surgical needle is used to break the scar beneath the skin, minimizing any chance of color change of the overlying skin.

Edward Lack, MD
Chicago Dermatologist

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Darker skin types should approach some laser technology with caution

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Patients with inherent pigment to their skin can be a challenge for treating physicians.  In Southern California with treat a preponderance of patients with Hispanic, Asian, or Middle Eastern heritage, in addition to tanned Caucasian skin--all of which may pigment following laser or light technology treatment.  "Fraxel" treatment can mean several things--both nonablative and ablative laser resurfacing technologies.

Boxcar and depressed acne scar treatment can be challenging.  I often counsel patients to have realistic expectations.  We can't return skin to its native state pre-scarring, but we can make great improvements.  Some boxcar scars/depressed scars are tethered down by scar tissue.  These respond well to a combination of removal by punch excisions or subcision with immediate filler or fat micrograft placement.   Longer-acting volumizing agents such as Radiesse and Sculptra Aesthetic have also been used to treat areas of acne scarring.

An interesting and developing area laser/light treatment for darker skin types may be the use of infrared & radiofrequency sublative devices for the treatment of acne scarring.  A study conducted during my surgical fellowship found that darker skin types (Fitzpatrick skin type IV) had improvement in acne scarring using this technology without any subsequent hyperpigmentation.

Melanie D. Palm, MD - Account Suspended
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.