How to Lessen Acne Scars
In a March 2007 report, the New York Times revealed that vitamin E, long-heralded for its purported ability to get rid of acne scars, has absolutely no effect on scarring. With a variety of anti-scar creams available to the consumer market -- many of which make the same miraculous claims -- you may wonder if it's possible to lessen acne scars without paying for an expensive cosmetic procedure. Although anti-scar creams may be beneficial, treatment from a medical professional is advised when scars are pronounced and extensive.
Acne Scar Treatment Basics
Have realistic expectations when you reach for an anti-scar cream. Mayo Clinic experts indicate that these consumer products won't give you pronounced results. Nonprescription scar treatments can lessen acne scars that are very mild, notes the American Academy of Dermatology, as long as you pick the product with the most effective active ingredients: glycolic acid, retinol or vitamin C. These ingredients encourage new collagen production, which slightly plumps up slightly depressed, round acne scars.
Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist if acne scars have an emotional, social or occupational impact on your life, advises the AAD. If you feel that scars inhibit your ability to succeed at your job or date, or if you find yourself avoiding social situations because you're self-conscious of your complexion, there are a number of medical treatments that are more effective than anti-scar creams.
Work with your dermatologist to devise a plan to lessen acne scars. Acne scars vary (such as boxcar, icepick and rolling scars), and one treatment or a combination of treatments are more appropriate for some scar types than others. For example, the AAD notes that deep indentations in the skin may require acne surgery to create a smaller scar, which is further reduced with laser skin resurfacing. Mild acne scars can also be treated with laser skin resurfacing, as well as chemical peels and microdermabrasion.
Make sure you know how much the recommended treatment will cost. The AAD points out that methods of reducing acne scars are cosmetic treatments and usually are not covered by health insurance. Because you'll most likely be paying for your treatment out of your own pocket, it's important to get an estimate of the cost of acne scar treatment, as it can be expensive. In January 2010, the consumer website Acne.org cited the average cost of laser skin resurfacing at $3000 and a chemical peel at $750 per treatment. Sometimes more than one treatment is required.
Be prepared to go the distance and realize that more invasive methods used to lessen acne scars require healing time. The AAD indicates that "wounding" methods such as laser skin resurfacing and dermabrasion that remove the outer layers of the skin require careful attention to your skin after the procedure, as directed by your dermatologist. You may need to apply topical antibiotics to your skin and change bandages routinely to avoid possible infection.
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