Treatment to Reduce Acne Pock Marks
Acne affects up to 50 million Americans, with 85 percent of all people suffering from it at some point in their lives, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. By the mid-teen years, over 40 percent of young people will have acne or acne scarring, often called "pock marks," which can be embarrassing and lead to low self-esteem. Fortunately, there are various treatments available that can help.
Acne scars can be of several types: atrophic, pigmented, boxcar, ice pick, superficial and hypertrophic, also known as keloid. Of these, the kind usually thought of as "pock mark" scars are the ice pick variety, with small, narrow pinpoint holes often penetrating deeply into the skin.
Acne occurs when the hair follicles in your skin become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, forming plugs that can become inflamed and infected. It's a misconception that acne is caused by dirty skin or eating greasy foods, although some researchers theorize that starchy foods may play a role. It's most likely that a combination of hormones, bacteria, certain medications and heredity are to blame.
Treatments for acne may never be able to restore your skin back to its original appearance, but they can provide a significant improvement. The most-frequently used techniques by doctors include dermabrasion, which uses an abrasive tool to "sand" your skin; laser resurfacing with different types of lasers such as CO2, Erb:Yag or Fraxel; a form of surgery called punch excision and grafting; fillers, using collagen, hyaluronic acid, polymethylmethacrylate or your own fat; or chemical peels. Your doctor will have to choose the right treatment for your particular situation, although laser resurfacing has become the most popular and is generally considered the most effective, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
At Home Treatments
If your ice-pick scars are deep, over-the-counter treatments may not be able to provide much help. However, if you have shallow depressed scars, then products containing glycolic acid, retinol and/or vitamin C may help your skin to produce new collagen and plump it enough to make the scars somewhat less noticeable.
If you have active acne lesions and are taking isotretinoin, your doctor may have you wait at least six months until you've stopped taking the drug, since some studies have indicated that treating acne scars while taking isotretinoin can make the scarring worse. You should also be aware that you may not see immediate improvement and there may be some temporary post-treatment side effects like having to change bandages or soak the treated skin, and there may be bruising lasting for a few weeks.
The cost of treating your acne scars will depend upon the technique involved and the number of sessions required. Even light scarring may require several sessions spread out over weeks or months. According to the Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery, the average costs, as of 2010, can range from $719 for a chemical peel to $2,424 for ablative laser skin resurfacing. Most insurance companies won't cover the costs of treatments, since they're considered cosmetic.
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