Unfortunately, acne can leave scars. When talking about scars from acne it is important to separate the visible scars from the ones we can’t see. Most of the medical information out there will focus on visible scarring in the skin. In doing this, however, it overlooks the invisible (psychological) scars that can also occur due to acne.
First, it is important to have a very basic understanding of the acne disease process. Acne vulgaris is a disease of what we call the pilosebaceous units—aka the pore. This skin problem involves a complex interplay of several different issues. The primary issues are the plugging of the pore, excess oil production, bacterial overgrowth, and inflammation. Of these, inflammation is the central problem when it comes to scarring in the skin. This is because if there is enough inflammation and it is present deep enough in the skin, within the layer called the dermis, it can result in scarring. In this situation, inflammation does enough damage to deeper structures including the connective tissue fibers that we can develop puckering in the skin resulting in invisible scars.
Invisible Scarring from Acne
We tend to wear everything on our faces. This does not just include basic emotions and mood; it includes blemishes from acne. In many cases these blemishes are mild, but if more prominent and longstanding they can lead up to various psychological effects. This is the case at any age where individuals suffer from acne. But it is especially true with developing minds, such as teenagers and young adults. Spots from acne can be embarrassing. They can cause us to feel more socially awkward and lower our self-esteem. Over months and years, this can lead to lasting effects. These lasting effects are what we refer to as the invisible scars of acne.
The best dermatologists know that for all these reasons, it is critically important to thoroughly manage acne. That is why at Advanced Dermatology the Midlands we have a specialized and highly refined clinical approach for the management of acne known as the Acne Institute. For more information on this, please check out this link on our web page: https://www.midlandsderm.com/acne-treatment-omaha/
Visible Scarring from Acne
Now, onto our primary subject matter, visible scars. What about them?
Acne can cause numerous different types of scars of varying severity. Some of us get very mild scarring from our acne that can improve on its own over time. In other cases, it can be more extensive, severe, and lifelong. Based on their appearance, different types of acne scars have certain names. The primary types of acne scars are:
- ice pick scars
- rolled or atrophic scars
- boxcar scars
Some people will have a combination of these whereas others may have just one type of scar. The atrophic and rolled scars are the most common type we see in our clinics. The severity of the scars and extent of the scarring can also vary considerably from person-to-person. In most cases the more severe the acne in terms of having deeper nodules and cysts or smaller cyst called microcysts, the greater the likelihood a person is to develop scars. Scars may also affect areas away from the face. When this happens, the most common areas we tend to see are on the chest and back. When the scars are present on those areas in the torso, they may at times be elevated scars which are actually a type of scar called a keloid.
Dark spots due to acne are technically not a scar. However, these can be treated. Please check out our post on these for more information: https://www.midlandsderm.com/acne-dark-spots-treatments-omaha-dermatology/
Visibile Acne Scars Treatment
Once acne scars have developed on the skin, there are few different approaches that can be used to help improve and minimize their appearance. Despite that, it is worth noting it is very important to treat and control the acne process itself to minimize any further ongoing scarring. Once that is done, some more minor cases of scarring will improve on their own over time. Here, no other active treatment is needed. In cases where treatment is needed, approaches to treatment break down into two primary categories
- medical treatments
- surgical treatments
As part of our special clinical approach for the treatment of acne, at the Acne Institute, we craft treatment plans for acne scarring for all our patients who will generally need treatment for acne scars once their acne is adequately improved.
Acne Scars Medical Treatment
Interestingly, the primary type of treatment medications for most cases of acne may also help patients with their scarring. These medications are known as topical retinoids—they are applied to the skin. These medicines are derived from Vitamin A. In addition to helping with plugging of the pores and various other parts of the mechanisms of acne, they can help to remodel the connective tissues in the skin. By doing this acne scars may improve over time with their use. Several different prescription versions of these medications are available for patients.
Acne Scars Surgical Treatment
In some cases, surgical intervention for acne scarring may be necessary or be helpful with more substantial scarring. A few different types of surgical approaches have been developed over the years for acne scars. From all these choices, our preferred approach at Acne Institute/Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands is a type of treatment known as micro-needling with the SkinPen. The micro-needling utilized in this treatment causes tiny microscopic injuries to the skin that triggers skin rejuvenation by remodeling of the tissues, and most notably the connective tissues deep in the skin which are causing the visible acne scars. In most cases, for the best results, a series of 3 of these treatments are utilized over several months.
For more information on this treatment, please see this link: https://www.midlandsderm.com/services/skinpen-microneedling-dermatology-omaha/
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists
We hope you have found this information helpful to better understand acne and the scars that it can trigger. As noted, at Advanced Dermatology the Midlands we have developed a specialized and refined approach to the treatment of acne known as the Acne Institute. If you or someone you know is suffering from acne or acne scars, please reach out to us. We are here to help you with all your skin concerns. Please contact us to schedule a consultation. in any of our clinics in Omaha, Council Bluffs or the surrounding communities.