“Don’t worry there is no need to treat the pimples! Leave them alone! They will go away! They are a part of growing up!” How often have you heard these words? Unfortunately, quite often! It’s truly sad, because pimples do not really go away. Maybe only the mild ones do so! The other pimples and the large zits definitely do not heal spontaneously. They need active treatment otherwise they leave behind the Legacy of horrendous scars! Acne scars are no joke – and if you suffer from them, you will agree that they undermine your self-confidence and dampen your social life. The anxiety from these scars can dominate your personal and professional life. The agony of always wanting to continuously hide your face is with you at all times.
What are Acne scars?
Acne scars are the skin’s reaction after large acne or pimples have healed. When pimples or acne spots heal, it can leave “brown flat spots” or “pseudo-scars” in some people, which heal in about few months. But in some other people, especially when there are deep nodules and cysts, there can be very deep holes or thick scars after the pimples heal. Some people are more prone to scarring because of hereditary factors.
What is the treatment for Acne Scars?
Early and prompt treatment is the mantra to prevent scar formation. The only sure method of preventing or limiting the extent of scars is to treat acne early in its course, and for as long as pimples or acne spots exist. The more that inflammation can be prevented, the more likely it is that scars can be prevented.
Years ago, there was really very little that could be done for acne scars, but today, there are multiple treatment options available depending on the type of acne scarring seen on the face
There are multiple treatment modalities available, depending on the type of acne scars.
Topical Fading Creams
Topical hydroquinone or fading creams are effective for post acne brown spots or “pseudo-scars”.
It will take at least six weeks to see any noticeable improvement. If there is still no improvement after two months, a stronger hydroquinone-based bleaching cream is to be used in conjunction with a topical retinoid cream. The retinoids will help prevent further acne breakouts and will peel and exfoliate the skin cells deep within the skin and hasten the fading of the marks.
Chemical peels are another effective option today. Soft superficial scars do well with this type of treatment. These can be done at 2 – 3 week intervals.
Minor Skin Surgery
This is a very minor surgical option, to be used in certain types of acne scars, which is performed under local anaesthesia.
Ice pick scars are deep-pitted scars that make the skin look like it had been jabbed with an ice-pick. A “punch excision” is done whereby the core of scar tissue is removed. This can also be combined with “punch grafting” at the same time. Many of these types of scars can be treated in one session.
Another type of acne scar technique called “punch elevation”, sometimes called a “punch float” is used.
Some people have groups of very small acne scars. In this situation a needle is used below the skin, to cut the fibrous collagen bands that attach the scars. This “subcision” technique will allow the skin to pop back up. Thick, raised or hypertrophic scars from acne damage are treated by injecting steroid drugs into the skin around the scars.
Other great options:
All these treatments are safe and give you back as near normal skin as you originally once had!
By Dr. Lushen Pillay
MBChB (UP) MMed Derm (Wits) FC Derm (SA)