Acne scars are caused by injury to dermal layers of the skin as a result of inflammation and rupturing of the oil glands. Collagen is disrupted by the inflammation, resulting in scaring. Therefore, to repair the scarring it is necessary to rebuild new collagen which in turn will restore an even structure to the skin. Because the cause of the scarring lies deep within the skin tissue a treatment is needed that works at this level; this is what acne laser removal does.
There are a range of different options to choose from when it comes to treatments for acne scaring. The best acne treatment for you will largely depend upon the severity of the scaring. The most suitable procedure for you will be discussed before treatment begins. Another factor that will be taken into consideration is the type of PAS (post acne scarring) that you have. Different types include: icepick scars (narrow and deep pitted scars); boxcar scars (wide depressions in the skin with clearly defined edges); rolling scars (wide depressing which have a sloping edge); and atrophic scars (these can be flat and thin or depressed).
What Acne Treatments Are Available?
One option is skin needling using a micro needling device. Very fine needles are injected into the treatment area and these trigger a natural healing process that stimulates the growth of collagen and rejuvenates the skin to treat scars. The number of sessions required will vary from patient to patient, and will continue until the desired results are achieved.
Laser treatments offer faster and often more effective options. At Academy Face and Body, we offer DOT Exide and CO2 laser treatments. Both of these treatments are carried out by one of our doctors. Your treatment may be completed in one session, or multiple sessions may be required depending upon desired outcomes, the nature of the scarring and possible downtime.
DOT Exide Fractional Laser delivers micro beams into the skin. This triggers a natural healing process and the generation of healthy collagen. The treatment penetrates deep into the skin, which is why it is suitable for acne scarring. This method of laser treatment allows quicker healing that traditional forms of laser resurfacing treatments, because the laser energy is highly targeted in dots which leave the surrounding skin unaffected.
Fractional Laser treatment is appropriate for all skin types, on any area of the body. Most people will notice some results almost immediately, but full results may not be seen for almost 6 months.
CO2 Laser treatment targets water under the skin by vaporizing and then removing it, adding heat in the process. At Academy Face and Body, CO2 laser treatments are carried out by Dr Jayson Oates, under local anesthetic and twilight sedation. Before receiving this treatment patients will need to apply pre-surgery preparation cream to their skin for a period of at least one month, stopping the application three days before treatment. Local anesthetic is used to improve patient comfort and cold air may also be administered to counter the heat you will feel. Post treatment, the treatment area will have a skin protectant cream applied. You’ll be given detailed instructions regarding after care as well to ensure the best possible results from your treatment. Following the procedure, you’ll receive care from one of Academy Face and Body’s registered nurses in the recovery unit before being discharged.
How many acne treatment sessions will I need?
For micro needling treatments, the number of sessions required will vary from patient to patient. You can expect to start with six session, depending upon a number of factors including severity of the scarring and desired outcomes. This will be discussed in your consultation, and as treatment progresses. Minimal downtime is caused by skin needling, it is a great option for people who don’t have availability to have lengthy periods away from work.
For Fractional DOT Laser treatment, generally 3 – 6 treatment sessions are required, depending upon the level of scarring. The number of treatment sessions required depends upon the individual patient. You may prefer more, but gentler treatment sessions with recovery in a few days from each, or you may choose for fewer, but more intense treatment sessions with a longer downtime. A more intensive treatment session will cause more discomfort, will have increased down time and aftercare requirements.
Risks and Complications
Potential side effects or complications from micro needling for acne scar treatment include infection if the skin if not properly cared for, prolonged redness or grazing and hyper and/ or hypo pigmentation if you prematurely expose your skin to the sun.
Compilations are very rare for CO2 laser treatments. Like all medical cosmetic treatments however, there is an element of risk and you should always make a decision from an informed position. There is a risk of infection – bacterial, fungal or viral. You should wash the treatment area regularly and make sure that you take any prescribed medication. If you suffer from cold sores regularly, please do let us know.
Up to a third of patients may show signs of increased pigmentation, and if you already have pigmentation issues, this will be an increased risk for you. Ideally, you should aim for maximum results from one treatment session. For acne scars however, another treatment may be necessary after 4 – 6 months.
There is also a possibility that you will see a demarcation between treated and untreated areas; to give an even appearance we there fore recommend treating the whole face.
With DOT Laser treatments, most patients will experience from redness, itching, peeling and swelling in the first week following the procedure. There’s also a risk of infection, but this can be reduced by using the pre-procedure wash which we will provide you with before your treatment. Should you develop an infection, this will be treated with antibiotics.
Resurfacing of the skin can often cause the herpes virus to flare up (cold sores). If you suffer from cold sores, please let us know and we will prescribe you with ANTIVIRAL medication – the virus is usually dormant but still present in the skin.
Again, there is a chance that you will experience hyperpigmentation, and people with darker skin types are more susceptible to this.
Please contact us for further information regarding the costs for our acne scar treatments.
If I am interested, what now?
Your first step is an initial consultation with Dr Oates. You do not need a GPs referral for this consultation. Or you can have a complementary consultation with one of our Dermal Therapists or Registered Nurses.
You may wish to speak with one of our qualified Dermal Therapists or Registered Nurses prior to seeing Dr Oates. During this free consultation, a Dermal Therapist/Registered Nurse can discuss both surgical and non-surgical options to treat your cosmetic concern(s).