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how to get rid of old acne scars

How to get rid of old acne scars

Nikki Butler

Nikki Butler

How to get rid of old acne scars

If you have been searching the internet trying to find an answer for ‘how to get rid of old acne scars’, then you may well have been met with a lot of differing and conflicting information.  It’s confusing sometimes, trying to figure out all of the treatments that are available to help you. 

The type of treatment that is suitable for you will depend on the type of scarring that you have, and your desired end results.   In this blog, I’ll go through different options that are available, and how they can help to treat different types of acne scars. 

Acne scars can be treated with two different types of laser. Both IPL (intense pulsed light) and fractional laser can make a huge difference.  As I work with the Lynton 3Juve laser, I’m able to provide a completely bespoke treatment plan for you, as the 3Juve has both of these layers, plus a radio frequency laser, to collagen boosting antiaging treatments. 

I’d recommend booking a consultation so that I can assess your skin and we can discuss a suitable course of treatment for you. You will also need to be patch tested with the laser before we can start you on the course of treatment. 

What are the different types of acne scars?

Before we can look at how to get rid of old acne scars, it’s important to first look at the different types of acne scarring that you may have.   It’s also important to take into account any redness, or areas of pigmentation your scars may have, together with whether you still experience outbreaks. 

Acne scars fall into three different categories:

  1. Rolling scars – these scars are bands of scar tissue that create an uneven appearance to the skin, the scars ‘roll’ along the skin. 
  2. Ice-pick scars -these are small, deep holes that look like the skin has been punctured. There are different grades of ice-pick scars. If these are very deep then they can sometimes require subcision treatments, where the sharp edge of the needle is used to break fibrotic strands that are tethering the scar to the underlying tissue. This procedure should be carried out by a Consultant Dermatologist only.
  3. Box-car scars  – these are deep depressions in the skin that look like hollow craters. 

You may well have more than one type of scarring, this is not uncommon. The treatments that right for your will depend on which type of scars you have and, of course, your desired outcome. 

If you are still experiencing breakouts, then I would recommend that we treat your active acne first, before treating the scar tissue.  To find out more about treatments for acne, click below. 

How to get rid of old acne scars with treatments

There are four ways to treat acne scars.  I’ll go through each one in detail below and identify which type of treatment is suitable for different types of scarring.  

  1. Mild scarring, with no discoloration: If your scarring is very minor then microneedling may be a good option for you. I call this my Advanced Plump & Glow Facial because it does exactly both of those things! I would use this for slight indentations, moderate lines & wrinkles, smokers (and dog-whistling) lines around the mouth.  You would need a course of 6-8 sessions spaced 4 weeks apart.  Click HERE to find out more.  
  2. Mild scarring with discoloration (red or slightly darker skin tone).  If this sounds more like you, then I would recommend a course of IPL laser treatments. The IPL laser targets the discoloration in the skin and helps to improve mild scarring, as it also stimulates fresh new collagen.  I use this treatment for low-level sun damage, mild lines and wrinkles, and minor scarring.  You would need 3-5 treatments 4 weeks apart. 
  3. Moderate scarring, with larger areas of scarring and more noticeable deeper scars, but no discoloration. If this is you, then I would recommend fractional laser for your acne scarring. The fractional laser treats deeper scar tissue, targeting the skin in the deeper layers of the skin (the dermis). This minor controlled trauma stimulates fresh collagen and elastin, helping to even out skin texture and improve the look and feel of your scars. You would need 3-5 sessions 4 weeks apart. 
  4. Moderate scarring with discoloration.  If you have scarring and mild discoloration then a combined treatment program of  the  IPL and fractional lasers are recommended.  The IPL treatments would be carried out first, followed by the Fractional laser treatments. You would need 3 of each, carried out 4 weeks apart.  By combining the IPL and fractional lasers, we are targeting the discoloration and improving the scarring with the IPL, before targeting the deeper scarring with the fractional laser. 
  5. Significant scarring, no discoloration. If you have deep pitted scarring, then fractional laser treatments are the most effective for you. You would need 3-6 treatments 4-6 weeks apart. 
  6. Significant scarring and discoloration. In some instances, scars can create post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This can look like much deeper areas of pigmentation in or around your scarring. If you have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, then it’s important to proceed with caution with your treatments. I would recommend booking a consultation so that I can assess your skin and we can discuss alternative approaches in the first instance. There are a number of products that can help to reduce your pigmentation and repair your skin, before commencing a treatment program.  This is very important, as subjecting your skin to harsh products, peels and treatments can make your pigmentation worse.  

I would recommend booking a consultation, so that I can assess your skin and we can talk about different treatment options that are available to you.  If I assess your skin and feel that you would benefit from seeing a Consultant Dermatologist, then I am happy to refer you. 

How to get rid of old acne scars with 3Juve Skin Laser

I use the Lynton 3 Juve machine for laser acne scar removal and also for treating active acne. This is a specialist medical grade skincare laser system that is designed to target almost all common skin concerns. If you’d like to read more about it, you can click HERE.

It is a highly effective and safe system, with Lynton being the most respected laser provider in the industry, supplying into the NHS and private clinics. It’s the reason I chose them for my clinic, combining exceptional results and safety. 

Firstly, let’s have a look at the IPL laser. With IPL, precisely controlled short pulses of light are released into the skin, causing a minor controlled trauma, and targeting areas of pigmentation, vascular concerns, and the bacteria responsible for acne.  The light results in the stimulation of the fibroblast cells, leading to increased production of new collagen and elastin. This improves the texture of the skin, evening out lumps and bumps whilst reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.  

The IPL laser pulses through the skin’s surface and targets the underlying tissue in the target area. The laser causes the pigment to break down into smaller particles, before rising up to the surface of the skin, where it will flake away as part of the body’s natural healing process. 

The fractional laser is very effective at resurfacing your skin and improving pitted scarring. Minute sections of the skin are targeted with laser light, which penetrates into the tissue, causing small columns of thermal damage which in turn stimulates significant collagen renewal. The surrounding non-affected areas of skin aid the body’s natural recovery
process, allowing dramatic results without
significant downtime.

The type of acne scarring you have will determine which laser is required, for your optimum results. In some cases, treatment with both lasers will be necessary. Please book a consultation so that I can assess your skin and we can discuss the best course of treatment for you. 

Are results permanent?

So as you can see, the answer to ‘how to get rid of old acne scars?’ is varied! the good news is that both active acne and acne scars tend to respond very well to treatment.  There are occasions where I may not be able to help you, such as with deep ice-pick scars, where you may need subcision with a Consultant Dermatologist. If I am not the right person to treat you, I will certainly point you in the right direction. 

Results are permanent for the areas you have treated. You’ll need to have a course of treatment, and the number of treatments you will need will depend on the area to be treated and your skin type. Everyone’s skin is different, so I can’t be exact on the number of treatments you’ll need. 

Whilst the laser treatment does provide permanent results in the area you’ve had treated, it won’t prevent further damage from occurring.  Please don’t worry, we will discuss a long term plan to ensure that we minimise further outbreaks in the future. 

Are laser acne treatments painful?

I get asked whether laser acne scar removal treatment is painful a lot! It’s hard to answer, because we all have different versions of what is painful. I would say that there is some mild discomfort, but no pain – and I say that as a total whimp! We are looking for around a 6/10 discomfort level (that’s discomfort, not pain!), that’s a great indicator that the treatment is successfully targeting the areas we are treating. 

What happens after my acne scar laser treatment?

With IPL, the area we have treated will look red afterwards, but this tends to go within a few hours.

With fractional laers, the area will be red the first 2-3 days, with the appearance of mild to moderate sunburn. As your skin is healing, you may find you have a bronzed glow for 3-10 days.  You may experience some minor flaking in the area, as it heals. 

How many sessions will I need and how much will it cost?

The number of sessions varies, but typically you’ll need 3 -6 sessions spaced approximately 4 weeks apart.   The cost of each treatment will depend on the size of the area to be treated. Prices start at £75.00 for a single small area.

You’ll need to book a consultation, as a patch test is required. 

Acne Scar Treatment - Long Term

Whilst the results of laser acne removal treatment is permanent, it doesn’t protect against further damage occurring. 

It’s important that you use products that repair and strengthen your skins natural barrier defence, this will ensure your skin is in optimum health. There are also treatments and products available, to help you minimise further outbreaks. preventing further damage. If you’d like to discuss suitable skin care products then please let me know, I have some incredible brands in my clinic that can help you. 

Are you ready to take the next steps?

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