20 Yrs Old, Laser, Microneedling, and Chemical Peels for Icepick/boxcar Scars - Decatur, IL

My journey to removing my acne scars has been a...

My journey to removing my acne scars has been a long, emotional, but so far rewarding process. A wave of major depression and anxiety in summer of 2015 left me with horrible cystic breakouts that turned into scarring on the contour lines of my cheekbones. The scars depressed me so much that I would not leave the house, do anything with anyone, and I was basically sobbing everyday over how I looked.

Before you start the process to remove your scars you must fully understand that there is NO miracle treatment. Anything you do to remove them will take time, patience, money, and the ability to reign in your emotions and set realistic goals. It will most likely take more than one type of treatment, as well.

My first treatment was a deep chemical peel. My aesthetician recommended we start with peels as to break down the top layers of skin before attempting to really go after the scars. In total I had 3 chemical peels. This procedure caused the most downtime out of anything I have done. The day of the treatment the peel is applied. It is brown, extremely smelly, and makes your skin itch. You will look like you have a bad spray tan on your face, so don't expect to be able to do anything in public that day. You leave it on for about 3 hrs then they give you a special wipe to remove it with. These wipes smell pretty bad as well. The first wipe is used to remove the peel, then you use a wipe the next morning, then the next night. On the third day or so, your skin starts peeling. PLEASE resist the urge to peel it. I cannot stress that enough. Let it peel on it's own!! Trying to rush the process or give in to the compulsive urge to peel it will result in hyperpigmentation and further damage to your skin. I was good about this most of the time but there was one incident where I peeled over a dried up pimple, and it left a dark spot for the next few months. SO I CAN'T SAY IT ENOUGH: DO NOT PEEL THE SKIN OFF!!! I peeled for about 2-3 days. I was able to apply makeup after the first few days, but sometimes I would be at school and there would be a strip of skin hanging off, lol, so it's a little weird. That's why I say that these cause the most downtime.

The chemical peels did wonders for the initial removal of the purple/dark pigmentation in my acne scars. However, once the color is gone from the scars, they do appear to be a little deeper. Please don't be discouraged by this. I was, but it all ended up fine.

After my 3 chemical peels, I started fractional laser. The one used was the Palomar 1540. My aesthetician would turn it up just a little each time I did it. The pain is, honestly, not a big deal at all. My aesthetician told me that it seems that I may have a high pain tolerance, but I truly don't get what all the fuss is about. It hurts. there isn't any getting around that. But I can think of tons of things that hurt way worse. Ear piercings, sun burns, paper cuts, etc. The total pain feels like someone slapped you on your cheek. Really not too bad. After the procedure, your skin is swollen and red. It throbs a little. They will probably offer you an ice pack, but I never take it. It is best to NOT cool down your skin as the heat from the laser is what helps with the scars. My aesthetician offers me an ice pack, but recommends I don't use it as best results come from not using one. The redness from the laser lasts about 4 days, but it fades with each day. If you wanted to, you could put on makeup the same day and go out--put that risks breakouts because your pores are opened up from the treatment. I usually lay low at home for 1-2 days, then I feel comfortable applying makeup and going about my business.

After my first three laser treatments, my aesthetician started incorporating microneedling as well. I would get both procedures done in the same day. Microneedling sounds A LOT scarier than it actually is. I describe the sensation as rubbing an electric toothbrush bristles across your face. It hurts way less than the laser, and I don't even consider the laser that painful. Microneedling does make you bleed a little bit, and it leaves tiny tiny holes in your skin, don't freak out! I promise they close up within a couple days. All in all I've had 7 laser treatments, and 4 microneedling treatments.

I space out all my procedures by a month-6 weeks. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not be discouraged in the few weeks after your treatment. Once the laser is completed, your skin is swollen so your scars don't look very prominent. This can lead to disappointment when the swelling subsides. I find that the 1-2.5 weeks after my treatment, my skin looks pretty bad. This could be from it being dried out, not sure. But it always tends to look better as I approach the time for my next treatment. Be aware that it is stated that best results from these treatments don't start appearing until 4 months. This is because skin cells need time to regenerate and fill up the scars.

One other thing to be aware of: sometimes the laser can cause milia, which are small white heads. I have only had a few of these, but I really try to avoid touching my face or using makeup after laser and microneedling. My routine is: the day of the procedure, I do not wash or touch my face. The next morning I will wash with ONLY cetaphil. That night I use cetaphil as well. Then the next day I do the same. I try not to wear makeup until the 2nd day after the procedure.

Last but not least, this is a long process. It's painful, emotionally and physically. You HAVE to have realistic expectations and patience. I have spent a lot of time crying, hating myself, and going back and forth from thinking "wow these procedures are miracles!" to thinking "I'll never look normal again!" But, when I look at old pictures of myself, and think rationally, there is 100% without a doubt a HUGE improvement in my scars than when I first started. This month marks a full year since I started my procedures, and I suspect it could take up to another full year to see perfect, life changing results. you have to be HUGELY OPTIMISTIC. Trust the process, do your research, and most importantly LOVE YOURSELF whether you have scars or not. I will try and update my process as I continue. I hope this helps someone! feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

Each chemical peel was $400 dollars
Each laser is $100
Each Microneedle is $100

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