Acne comes with 2 problems. One is the acne itself and second is the scars it leaves behind. Depending on the type and severity of the acne, the scars left behind will be different. Again depending on the type of scars and your skin type, some of them may fade with time, some with home treatments and some may not.
The treatments available today for scarring of any kind is mind boggling. We are all on the lookout for perfect skin. They range from simple treatments like facials for acne scars to complex things like laser treatments. If you decide to opt for treatments for acne scars, I thought I would put together a guide that would help you make the right choice. Since it is your face, the most visible part of your body, and you are going to be investing money, here are some points that would help you out. I have visited 3 clinics for acne and scar removal. While I had no luck with the treatments for acne, I did get some good results when it came to my acne scars.
First do remember that soon after your acne has healed, depending on the healing process, your skin will look really bad. The scars may be red and appear to stand out on your face. Please remember that this is temporary and as time passes your skin will look better and start to heal. Remember to always wear sunscreen at all times when going out into the sun.
Here are some of the treatments that are normally used for acne scarring. All these treatments have down time, that means, a period of time when your skin will be sore or looked bruised or swollen. It normally goes down within 24 hours, so do plan for some time where you might not want to go out. Even if you do wear sunscreen it is better you let your face heal at home at least for the first 24 hours.
Chemical Peels : This is technique in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin so that the outer layer peels off and new smoother skin is regenerated. It is a form of exfoliation except that it is done under the supervision of a dermatologist. There are 3 types of chemical peels – superficial, medium and deep. For acne scars, usually superficial and medium peels are recommended. Your skin will be sensitive after a peel so make sure you do not have any outdoor plans for at least 24 hours. You will also be asked to use a good sunscreen while going out into the sun. Chemical peels should not be performed when you have cuts or open wounds.
Microdermabrasion : This is an extreme form of exfoliation where the doctor uses a high speed wheel or brush to remove the outer layer of the skin so as to improve the appearance of the skin. This procedure is generally only effective for flat discoloured scars and does not work for deep scars like indented scars. Your skin will look pink for about 24 hours after the procedure.
Subcision : This is a procedure that is used for indented scars. Since the healing scar tissue has attached itself to the lower skin layers, a needle is used to detach it. This is normally done under local anaesthesia. An anaesthetic cream will be applied on your face and left for 30 – 45 minutes. This cream is then gently wiped off and the dermatologist will perform the procedure. It may be slightly painful.
Dermal Fillers : These are used for ice pick, boxcar, indented and rolling scars. Fillers are injected under the skin to lift the scar and give a smooth appearance to the skin. An anaesthetic cream will be applied to alleviate any discomfort. After the procedure your skin will look bruised for a day or 2. You may feel a slight discomfort and will be given an ice pack to apply.
Derma Rollers : This is a cylindrical tube like structure with hundreds of tiny needles. These are rolled over your skin to injure it in a controlled manner. An anaesthetic cream will be applied to your face to numb it and reduce discomfort. The idea is to trick the skin into repairing itself and stimulating collagen production, which then helps heal acne scars by regenerating new smooth skin. There will be minimal bleeding. Today you can buy Derma Rollers over the internet to be used at home. However, personally I would not recommend this and strongly suggest you get it done by a qualified doctor. Derma Rollers should also not be used on skin that has active acne.
Lasers : These work by using short pulses of light to destroy the upper layers of skin. The skin’s natural healing process then generates new and smooth looking skin. Generally 4-6 sittings of laser are needed depending on the severity of your scars.
At your first consultation the dermatologist will recommend a combination of the above treatments. These however may change during the course of your treatment depending on how your skin reacts.
Here are some do’s and don’t about choosing a skin clinic.
Do shop around for a skin clinic
If you have decided to get treatment for your scars, you are going to be investing a lot of money into it. So take the time to choose a good clinic. Visit various clinics. Pay the initial consultation fee and talk to the consulting dermatologist. Never ever decide on any treatment without talking to them. It is normal that you have a consultation with a dermatologist first and then they will discuss a treatment plan with you. He/She should be patient enough to answer your questions. If you have active acne she or he should insist that your acne should heal first.
If the doctor claims that you will have 100% improvement please be on alert. Most treatments have a 60-80 % improvement. Don’t be discouraged by these figures. It is actually a lot of improvement.
Do not make a commitment until you have visited 2-3 skin clinics. Once you have talked to the dermatologist, visit their website and check out their reviews. If you can reach out to some of the people who have had procedures at the clinic, even better.
Do talk to other clients at the skin clinic
When you visit the clinic, do talk to the other clients waiting there. Ask them what their experience has been and if they are happy with their results. Do take a look at their skin but do it discreetly and don’t stare. Ask them how long it took before they saw results and what treatments they have had.
Don’t buy packages
Most skin clinics offer package deals where if you pay upfront for 6-8 treatments, say 6-8 sessions of laser, you pay less. The problem with this is if you are not happy with the results you are already committed to them. Pay a little extra but pay as you go.
Don’t hesitate to stop at any time
If for some reason the treatments do not seem to be working or you are not happy with the results or just plain uncomfortable do not hesitate to stop at any time. You should see some result in 6-8 weeks at the least. For example there was a dermatologist I went to whose patients used to scream in pain as she did painful laser treatments without anaesthetic. This is a big no no. If the dermatologist wants to save time and money by not taking the time to apply an anaesthetic cream she is not doing a very good job.
If you have visited any clinic and have any points to add do tell me in the comments below. I would really appreciate it and I read every comment.