Acne Scars & the Renewal of the Skin
Most people who get acne as teenagers don't wind up with permanent scars to remind them of their pimples. But those who do have acne scars often report feeling like the scars hold them back, both socially and professionally, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Fortunately, many treatments are available that will help erase acne scars and, as a bonus, renew the skin's appearance at the same time.
Most people with acne scars have indentations in their skin that look like pock marks, according to the AAD. Keloids, another type of scar, are raised patches of skin that can be painful. Some people develop skin discoloration in the form of red, pink, brown, tan or even purple spots after acne. These spots are not technically scars because they slowly fade, but many sufferers seek out ways to get rid of them faster.
Acne scar treatments generally involve leveling the skin and improving its texture and coloration, according to the AAD. Dermatologists use many of these same treatments, including prescription products and also physical procedures such as laser peels, to treat the obvious signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Many people who seek treatment for their acne scars are surprised when the treatment provided makes them look younger.
Tretinoin, which better known by the brand names Retin-A and Renova (among others), fights both acne scars and wrinkles by encouraging the skin to renew itself. Tretinoin causes the skin to shed its top layer more quickly and also stimulates collagen production deep within the skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The prescription medication also helps to fade dark spots on the skin, including those that result from acne and age spots.
Physical procedures also can help improve the appearance of scars while renewing the skin. Like tretinoin, these procedures generally stimulate collagen production while causing the skin to shed its top layer, revealing younger-looking skin with less apparent scars. Laser skin resurfacing is one of the most commonly used procedures for acne scars and also works well to reverse the effects of sun exposure and aging. Dermatologists also use microdermabrasion and chemical peels for both skin rejuvenation and acne scars.
Not all treatments will work on all types of acne scars. Both acne scar treatment and anti-aging treatments need to be carefully tailored to each individual patient's needs, and the AAD urges potential patients to consult with a dermatologist before deciding on a treatment. In addition, because insurers believe many of the procedures used are unproven and cosmetic in nature, patients may need to pay out-of-pocket for them.
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