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How to Treat Acne Scars

February 29, 2024 by VitalSkin Dermatology

Closeup of a black women and her facial hyperpigmentation due to acne scars

Acne is a common skin condition that affects many individuals, and it often leaves behind unsightly scars that can significantly impact self-esteem. If you’re struggling with acne scars, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are various treatments available to help minimize their appearance and improve the overall texture and tone of your skin.

Types of Acne Scars

Before determining a treatment option, it’s essential to understand the different types of acne scars that can develop. The severity of your acne scars will also help determine the most appropriate treatment method for you. Acne scars are typically classified into four categories:

  • Ice Pick Scars: These are deep, narrow scars that create small, deep holes in the skin.
  • Boxcar Scars: Boxcar scars are characterized by broad depressions with sharply defined edges.
  • Rolling Scars: Rolling scars create a wave-like appearance on the skin due to fibrous bands pulling the epidermis downwards.
  • Hypertrophic or Keloid Scars: These scars are raised and often have a thick, lumpy texture. They occur when the body produces excess collagen during the healing process.

Do Acne Scars Fade Over Time?

While acne scars may not completely fade away on their own, they can become less noticeable over time. The natural healing process of the skin, combined with consistent skincare and treatment, can help to fade acne scars gradually. It’s important to remember that the timeline for scar fading varies for each individual, and it may take several months or even years to see significant improvement. However, with patience and the right approach, you can achieve a smoother and more even complexion.

Can a Dermatologist Help with Acne Scars?

Absolutely! Dermatologists possess the necessary expertise and knowledge to effectively assist individuals dealing with bothersome acne scaring. With their deep understanding of the complexities of the skin, dermatologists evaluate the severity of your scars and provide you with recommendations regarding the most appropriate and effective treatment options available. By seeking the professional guidance of a dermatologist, you can rest assured that you will receive personalized care that helps you achieve your skin goals.

Dermatology Procedures for Acne Scar Removal

Dermatologists offer a range of procedures that can significantly improve the appearance of acne scars. These procedures are typically performed in a medical office and may require multiple sessions for optimal results. Here are some commonly used dermatology procedures for acne scar removal:

Laser Treatments

Laser treatments are highly effective for reducing the appearance of acne scars, particularly for moderate to severe cases. They work by resurfacing the skin and stimulating collagen production, which can help improve the texture and overall appearance of the scars. 

Laser treatments can be used on various parts of the body and are a popular choice for many individuals seeking acne scar removal. Intense pulsed light (IPL) is one option that can reduce the redness and discoloration caused by acne lesions.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are a non-invasive option for treating mild to moderate acne scars. This procedure involves applying a chemical solution to the skin, which exfoliates the outer layers and promotes the growth of new, healthier skin. Chemical peels can improve the skin’s texture, reduce the appearance of scars, and even out skin tone. 

There are different types of chemical peels available, including superficial, medium, and deep peels. Superficial peels are the mildest and work on the outermost layer of the skin, while medium and deep peels penetrate deeper to target more severe scarring. 


Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is a procedure that uses tiny needles to create controlled micro-injuries in the skin. These micro-injuries stimulate the skin’s natural healing response, triggering the production of collagen and elastin. Over time, this can improve the appearance of acne scars and promote smoother, more even skin texture.

There are different devices used for microneedling, including derma rollers and pen-like tools. While there are at-home microneedling devices available, it’s generally recommended to seek treatment from a board-certified dermatologist for more significant and long-lasting results. Dermatologists may also use microneedling devices equipped with radiofrequency heating to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment and further improve skin texture.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are injectable treatments that can be used to fill in and improve the appearance of deep acne scars. They work by adding volume to the skin and plumping up depressed areas caused by scarring. Common types of dermal fillers include collagen, hyaluronic acid, and fat injections.

Dermal fillers are particularly effective for ice pick scars and deep boxcar scars that may not respond well to other types of resurfacing treatments. The results are immediate, and the effects can last several months to a year, depending on the type of filler used. Repeat treatments may be necessary to maintain the desired results.

At-Home Remedies and Tips for Treating Acne Scars

In addition to professional treatments, there are several at-home remedies and tips that can help improve the appearance of acne scars. While these methods may not provide dramatic results like dermatological procedures, they can still contribute to the overall improvement of your skin’s texture and tone. 

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments, such as creams and gels, can be used to promote skin healing and reduce the visibility of acne scars. Look for products that contain ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, and niacinamide, as these can help stimulate collagen production and improve skin texture.

Sun Protection

Protecting your skin from the sun is crucial for preventing further damage and discoloration of acne scars. Prolonged sun exposure can make scars appear darker and more prominent. Make sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily, even on cloudy days, and wear protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves, when spending time outdoors.

Gentle Skin Care Routine

Maintaining a gentle skin care routine is essential for individuals with acne scars. Avoid using harsh cleansers or scrubbing your face vigorously, as this can irritate the skin and worsen the appearance of scars. Instead, opt for mild cleansers and moisturizers that are suitable for your skin type.

Over-the-Counter Scar Creams

Over-the-counter scar creams may help reduce the appearance of acne scars by promoting healing and improving skin texture. Look for products that contain ingredients like silicone, vitamin E, and onion extract, as these have been shown to have potential benefits for scar management.

Acne scars can be challenging to deal with, but there are various treatment options available to help improve their appearance. Whether you opt for dermatological procedures or at-home remedies, the key is to be patient and consistent in your approach. Consult with a VitalSkin dermatologist to determine the best course of action for your specific acne scars. With the right treatment plan and professional guidance, you can achieve smoother, more even-toned skin and regain your confidence. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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