Posts for tag: acne scar
Acne scars are a common concern and treatment can be very frustrating. Fortunately, we are able to treat acne scars and make your skin look young again.
What are acne scars?
It is important to understand what acne scars are and what they are not. A common misconception is that acne scars are the dark discolorations left over on the skin after an acne breakout. These are not true scars. Instead they are discolorations known as PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). True acne scars are irregularities in the texture of the skin after a breakout, or more commonly after a pimple is popped under the skin. These irregularities are seen as indented or atrophic scars that can be felt when touching the skin. The reason it is important to differentiate between PIH and true acne scars is because the treatments are different.
How do acne scars form?
When acne breakouts appear, many people have the urge to pop the pimple. If done properly and the pus is extracted, the breakout can be improved significantly. However, often times the pimple or pustule is popped under the skin, releasing the pus into the skin. This leads to an inflammatory reaction in the skin whereby the body tried to attack the material here. The inflammation leads to destruction of collagen, the protein that keeps the surface of the skin smooth. As a result, the smoothness is lost and indented or atrophic scars form.
How are acne scars treated?
Before treating acne scars, it is important to first have the active acne under control. If not, then new scars may form. When treating the scars themselves, it is necessary for the skin to form its own natural, new, fresh, and healthy collagen. This will smoothen out the surface of the skin. The best way to stimulate such collagen is by using fractional laser resurfacing such as the fractional CO2 laser.
How does the fractional CO2 laser work?
The fractional CO2 laser works by creating thousands of microscopic holes in the skin and generating heat. This heat stimulates the body to form its own natural, new, fresh, and healthy collagen, which leads to a smooth texture. Since the entire skin is not treated with a fractional CO2 laser treatment, the intact and untreated skin surrounding each hole allows for fast recovery. It takes time for collagen to grow and the full results after a single fractional CO2 laser treatment are seen three to six months after the treatment. Since acne scars tend to be deep a series of three to six fractional CO2 laser treatments may be required; such fractional CO2 laser treatments are performed every three months. Full results are seen approximately twelve months after the final fractional CO2 laser treatment.
Acne is a common condition in people of all ages. Not only are acne breakouts concerning for people, but so is what is left on the skin after a breakout such as irregular texture and color.
What is the difference between an acne scar and a discoloration?
While both irregular texture and color after acne breakouts are commonly referred to as acne scars, true acne scars are only the textural irregularities in the skin. These are the indentations (atrophic scars) that can be felt on the skin when passing a finger over it. Dark spots left over are called PIH, which stands for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is important to distinguish between acne scars and PIH because they are treated differently.
How do acne scars form?
Acne scars commonly form after acne breakouts. Usually this happens when the pimples are picked at or popped. Proper extraction can remove the pus from the skin, calm down the skin, and make the breakouts go away faster. However, if the pimple (comedone) is popped inside the skin, the pus is not able to come out and it is released into the skin. The skin detects this as an insult and a reaction is formed to address it. This leads to the breakdown of collagen, the protein that keeps the skin firm and tight. This results in the indentations we see called acne, or atrophic, scars.
How does PIH form?
PIH stands for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is when the skin gets darker. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, therefore, is when the skin gets darker after inflammation. And inflammation can occur for various reasons such as sun exposure (which leads to tans), cuts, burns, acne, laser treatments, etc. People with darker skin have more natural pigment and are at an increased risk of developing PIH.
How do you treat acne scars?
Acne scars are best treated with fractional lasers such as the Fractional CO2 laser or the Pro Fractional Therapy. These laser treatments form tiny holes in the skin. This leads to microscopic levels of inflammation in the skin, causing the skin to form new, fresh, and healthy collagen. So the damaged collagen that is in the scars is replaced with normal collagen, which provides a smooth appearance on the skin surface. The areas around the holes are left untreated; this allows for faster recovery times. Often times a series of three to six treatments are required. Treatments can be done every four to eight weeks. It is important to understand that collagen does not form overnight, it forms slowly. So results are not seem immediately and patience is important. It could take up to a year or sometimes more to see full results.
How do you treat PIH?
PIH is best treated by preventing it in the first place. The risk of PIH can be minimized by using a good skin care regimen such as the A E Skin products. The A E Skin Brightening Cream contains hydroquinone and kojic acid, which brighten the skin and prevent PIH. It also contains retin-A which stimulates cell turnover, keeping the surface fresh. The A E Skin Exfoliating Serum removes the dead skin cells from the surface, which allows for any pigment to be exfoliated. The A E Skin Triple Antioxidant Serum contains vitamins C and E to prevent discolorations, provide a glow, and stimulate collagen. The A E Skin Hydrating Serum contains hyaluronic acid which draws water into the skin to counteract dryness that can occur from the other products. It is important to recognize those at risk for PIH and pre-treat such people’s skin with these products for one to two months prior to a treatment. Those with darker skin types are at a higher risk for PIH. PIH can be further treated with chemical peels and laser treatments such as the Forever Young BBL IPL photofacial.
Do you suffer from acne scars and PIH? Contact us for a free consultation with Dr. Alex in our Encino, CA or Beverly Hills, CA offices. Dr. Alex has performed over ten thousand cosmetic treatments with many satisfied patients.