How to Remove Acne Scars?

What is the most effiecent way to remove acne scars? I just finished my 5 month period of accutane and it worked beautifully. my skin is clear of bumps but theres just red scars left. there are some darker ones and some light ones. my skin tone is fairly tanned so maybe thats the reason. But what are some ways of getting these pests of my face? im open to anything no matter the cost and i was thinking of microdermbrasion? thanks for your help

Doctor Answers 6

Treatijng Scars after Accutane...

You should wait at least 6 months after completing an Accutane regimen.  Vascular lasers are a good for your red marks on your face.  IPL and Laser Genesis by Cutera are great options.  Later on for your deeper scars you can opt for a more aggressive treatment to resurface your skin.  In my office we like to suggestion the Fraxel Laser or the Pearl Fractional.  These are great options for treating more prominent acne scars.  Microdermabrasion and Medical Facials are also an additive to the laser treatments. 

Hope this helps.  Good luck!


Dr. Grant Stevens 

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 147 reviews

Acne Scar Treatment

Hello and thank you for the question.

Given that you just completed a course of Accutane, I would allow your skin to become more quiescent prior to commencing treatment for acne scars. A period of 6 to 8 months would be ideal. With time, the red scars will become less apparent through the normal healing process. As my colleague mentioned, vascular lasers are a good option for red scars, should the redness not reside on its own. The remainder of the scars may be treated with a fractionated laser, such as Fraxel or Lumenis Total FX, depending on your skin type. It is possible you may require a concomitant bleaching regimen, especially for the darker scars. 


Glenn Vallecillos, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Glenn Vallecillos, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Acne Scar Treatment Options

There are several treatments for addressing acne scars however if you were my patient, you would need to be off of Accutane for a minimum of 9 months. Consult with an experience board certified facial plastic surgeon, plastic surgeon, or dermatologist. Upon examination your physician can determine which treatment options would best address your individual concerns.

Michael Sullivan, MD
Columbus Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Time heals much-- if not, try a Lasers for Scars

After a course of Accutane, there is often much Post-Inflammatory Erythema (PIE), or redness, from where the more severe acne had been.  In people with some color in their skin, there may also be darker or lighter skin changes, called Post-Inflammatory Pigmentary Alteration (PIPA).  ALL of these color changes tend to improve, and generally clear, with time--- and WITHOUT the need for treatment.  Most should resolve or be resolving by the 6 month period we prefer to wait before any aggressive skin resurfacing procedures, but may take up to 12 months.  For some increased pigment problems, I have seen complete natural resolution clear up to 2 years out.

For PERSISTENT redness, not improving in 6 months or present longer than 12 months, the Pulsed Dye laser is most effective.

For PERSISTENT increased pigmentation (hyperpigmentation), again 6-12 months as above, bleaching agents and chemical peels are your best approach.

For TRUE SCARS-- textural changes I liken to a damaged, worn or pot-holed street-- I find Fractional CO2 resurfacing the most effective, safest and most tolerable treatment.

Make sure you consult with your Board Certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon to find the best treatment for your problem, not a one size fits all.

Jeffrey C. Poole, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Treatment Options for Red Acne Scars?

Hi Bobby.  We agree that accutane should have a 6 month "washout period" before lasers.  

Based on the type of scars you are describing - colored red scars - Microdermabrasion is certainly an option.  Microdermabrasion for acne scars works by removing the uppermost layers of skin (about 10/1000ths of an inch).  In addition to removing some of the color, this causes the skin to develop new cells which in turns forces the colored skin cells you want to get rid of to the surface.  Because the epidermis renews itself every month or tow, this is about the quickest you would be able to get rid of these marks using a treatment such as Microdermabrasion.

There are other options in addition to Microdermabrasion for colored acne scars.  We almost always treat red acne scars with pulsed dye lasers.  Pulsed dye lasers are the gold standard for vascular conditions such as Rosacea, Port Wine (red) birthmarks and even some facial veins.  This laser targets hemoglobin in the blood and can therefore get rid of red acne scars fairly quickly.   Chemical peels are also an option and hydroquinone bleaching agents would be more appropriate if the scars are brown.  Good luck.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Acne scar treatment

There are a njumber of approaches that may be used to treat acne scars.  Most last treatments need to be performed 6 months after stopping acutane.  The red scars are treated with vascular lasers while the depressed scars usually require surgery and/or laser resurfacing procedures.  If you send a photograph I will be able to give you a better idea of which treatments I feel may be most appropriate.

Brian Biesman, MD
Nashville Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

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.