Scars: Answers to Common Questions
If you are thinking about treatment for
acne scars, you probably have questions. Many people want to know
which treatment works best. Others want to find out what they can do
at home to treat acne scars. Here you will find what many
dermatologists tell their patients.
Should I get treatment for my acne
This is a personal decision that only you can make. Some people feel
that acne scars diminish their quality of life. Others can see the
same type of scarring as not so bad.
Dermatologists generally recommend
making an appointment to talk about treatment if you experience any
of the following:
You frequently wish that you
could just get rid of your acne scars
You feel that the scars limit
your opportunities to date, to get a job or a promotion, or
to do well at school
You feel more depressed or less
self-confident than before you had acne and acne scarring
You get together with people
less often because you feel so self-conscious about the
In deciding whether to treat acne
scars, it is important to know a few facts about scar treatment.
Probably the most important fact is that medical insurance generally
does not cover treatment for acne scarring. You will have to pay for
the treatment. Be sure to get an estimate for the total cost before
You also should know that scar treatment may require several
treatment sessions and some downtime.
Having realistic expectations about the results also is important.
While treatment can improve the appearance of your skin, restoring
it to the way it looked before you had acne scarring may not be
possible. A dermatologist can tell you what you can expect.
Can a dermatologist treat my acne scars if I still have acne?
To give you the best results, a dermatologist will first treat the
acne and get it under control. If you have a tendency to develop
acne scars, new acne breakouts can lead to new acne scars. This is
why it is important to get the acne under control first.
If I am taking isotretinoin, can I get my scars treated?
Some studies suggest that treating acne scars while taking
isotretinoin can make the scarring worse. Your dermatologist may ask
you to wait at least 6 months after stopping isotretinoin. The wait
time also will depend on the type of treatment recommended for your
Why did I get acne scars?
Dermatologists have found that family history plays a big role
in whether a person develops acne scars. The genes we inherit make
some people more likely to scar. If you had severe acne, you also
are more likely to develop acne scars.
While dermatologists know what increases a person’s risk of
developing acne scars, it is not possible to predict who will
develop acne scars. This is why dermatologists recommend early
treatment for acne. This can help prevent acne from becoming severe.
The less severe the acne, the less the risk of developing acne
scars. This is especially important for people who have family
members who had severe acne. Waiting to treat acne until it becomes
severe can lead to extensive acne scarring.
Are the scar treatments available without a prescription
While these products generally cannot get rid of acne scars,
some scar creams and gels can help:
Diminish acne scars that are
saucer-shaped and not very deep
Flatten raised scars a bit
Reduce the discolored skin that
appeared when the acne cleared
Mild depressed acne scars often become
less noticeable with use of products that contain glycolic acid,
retinol, or vitamin C. These active ingredients help the body to
produce new collagen, and collagen plumps up the skin. If spots of
discolored skin (which are not scars) appeared after your acne
cleared, a skin lightening cream may help. Certain dressing such as
silicone bandages — or even just taping the skin — can help flatten
Can I use an at-home microdermabrasion kit to treat my acne
Before using any at-home product to improve the look of your skin,
talk with your dermatologist. Safety can be a concern. With improper
use, at-home products such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels
can actually make the scars more noticeable. Sometimes an active
ingredient in a product can cause an unexpected skin reaction.
And it is important that you not expect the same results that a
dermatologist can deliver with these treatments. The active
ingredients in at-home products are not as strong. Results will not
be as dramatic or long-lasting.
What do dermatologists say is the best treatment for acne scars?
One single best treatment for acne scars does not exist. Acne scars
come in different shapes and sizes. They develop on different parts
of the body. Some scars are deep; others are shallow.
To treat these different scars, many treatments are available. For
people with mild acne scarring, there are several options, including
chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser skin resurfacing. Many
dermatologists use laser skin resurfacing to improve the texture of
the skin after scar removal surgery. A dermatologist can tell you
which treatment or combination of treatments will be most effective
Trust Your Dermatologist
Thanks to advances in medicine and technology, it is possible to
remove or diminish the appearance of most acne scars. Dermatologists
have the medical knowledge and training to tailor treatment to each
person’s unique needs. If you want to know what treatment options
can diminish your acne scars, be sure to see a dermatologist.
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content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
A single “best” treatment for acne
scars does not exist. Best results come from tailoring treatment
to the individual.
(Photo used with permission of the American Academy of
Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching