Acne is without a doubt the purest form of evil. Just when you think you've cleared it up, it leaves its mark in the form of a scar, forcing you to remember it for the rest of your life. Terrible, right? Not so fast—though remedying a scar is no easy feat, it can be done. You just have to take into consideration the type of scar and the deepness of the lesion, among other things. To help determine how to remove acne's very unwanted souvenirs, we turned to three different skin experts, who offered a wealth of knowledge.
To read their tips for sending scars packing, keep scrolling!
First things first—it's important to know what an acne scar actually is: "Acne scars are the result of inflammation within the dermis that triggers the skin to produce pigment cells. These must be cared for properly to expedite the fading and healing process to prevent long-term damage to the skin," says celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. She also offers some welcome news that many times scars will, in fact, heal on their own over time but that the process can (thankfully) be expedited, both in the doctor's office and out. Take a look at the below methods!
These types of scars are tricky, because they resemble the look of a blemish even though they're just the aftermath of a breakout. VMH Hypoallergenics founder Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell says to apply her flare-up balm followed by daily sunscreen. She suggests using ingredients that repel visible light, like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and iron oxide. And yes—visible light includes computer screens, so consider this while you're casually scrolling Instagram later.
Rolling scars have rounded and sloped edges, and Verallo-Rowell says the fastest way to treat these is by having your dermatologist inject fillers just below the their surface. After doing so, you can see results after just one session, but the looks of the scar will improve after each subsequent visit.
Another option is to use a chemical peel and microdermabrasion, but several treatments may be necessary (more on that below).
Box scars have steeper, more defined edges than rolling scars do. Verallo-Rowell likes to combine chemical peels and microdermabrasion (like the above product) to round up their edges a bit but prefers fillers to plump them up afterward. You can also try intense pulsed light or a non-ablative (non-invasive) laser, like the Tria Age-Defying Laser ($495).
A third type of indented scar is an icepick scar, which, as its name suggests, is narrow and thin. These are the most difficult kind of scar to remove and may require a dermal punch (a procedure that actually punches out the skin) or the use of ablative lasers.
"Since an acne scar is inflamed skin, using calming and soothing ingredients on it will help to sedate the irritated skin tissue," says Rouleau. "Use products with the following ingredients: white tea, the most potent antioxidant blend of all teas; green tea; magnesium ascorbyl phosphate; and trehalose, an antioxidant cell protector."
Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care, says that microneedling is a great way to stimulate the skin's collagen to smooth acne scars. However, Verallo-Rowell says to avoid using this method on a thick keloid scar (caused from improper healing, secondary inflammation, or manipulation), as doing this can traumatize the tissue, causing even more thick scar tissue to develop.
According to Verallo-Rowell, the best treatment is avoidance: "Treat the acne early, use silicone gels early, avoid infections, and treat immediately when they do," she explains. Adds Tanzi, "The prevention of a scar is far easier than the treatment of one," so it's best to utilize aggressive treatment as soon as acne forms.
We're all about prevention—what's your favorite acne treatment? Please tell us below!