Laser Acne Scar Treatment
Before doing Laser Acne Scar Treatment, first, you need to treat any active acne. It doesn't make any sense to treat acne scars if the acne is still occurring, so I strongly recommend a visit to the dermatologist. Even though over the counter topical treatments do work, the prescription drugs work much better and a dermatologist can determine whether you need oral antibiotics for a period of time along with topical antibiotics and/or keratolytic.
A New Generation of Laser Treatment
There have been a number of exciting advances in laser medicine which have resulted in vast improvements in our ability to treat acne scars. There is a whole range of lasers that can be used to treat acne scars. In the early days of laser medicine, they used a Carbon Dioxide laser, which destroys the surface of the skin. There's a prolonged healing period, about a week to ten days, during which the skin is open. Additionally, there's a reasonable risk of side-effects with a CO2 laser, such as permanent whitening of the skin and scarring.
We now use non-ablative lasers, which, unlike CO2, do not remove the top layers of the skin and are non-destructive. These lasers have a lot less risk and are more effective at treating acne scarring than the ablatives. My treatment of choice for acne scarring is a pulsed-dye laser. One of the benefits of the pulsed-dye laser is that it can take the redness out of the acne scars. Since often acne scars are red, this can very quickly, within a month, improve the appearance of acne scars tremendously.
Another type of laser that's been used to treat acne scars recently is the fractionated laser, such as Fraxel® or Affirm®. Fractionated laser treatments have been reported to produce remodeling in acne scars without the downtime of ablative resurfacing.
A week after the initial non-ablative treatment, you'll begin seeing collagen remodeling which continues for about three months. I typically administer four treatments at monthly intervals.
Does Treatment Hurt?
Pain is minimal. Generally, my patients find the pain associated with laser acne scar treatment quite tolerable. While each person is different and has their own threshold for pain, laser treatment is usually well-handled. Also, in my own practice, I find that my male patients usually have a lower threshold for pain than females.
Generally, we find the recovery time for laser treatment to be minimal. Following treatment, there may be some redness and some swelling for a few days, which will usually then subside.
A note on laser treatment:
Accutane can be a miracle cure for acne, but we don't laser people typically within six months of having Accutane. The reason for this is that Accutane can cause increased scarring from any kind of injury or trauma and Laser Acne Scar Treatment can be viewed by the skin as a type of injury.