Laser acne scar treatment aims to minimize the appearance of scarring from old acne breakouts. Ninety-five percent of people with acne have some residual scarring.
Laser treatment for acne scars focuses light on the top layers of skin to break up the scar tissue. The growth of new, healthy skin cells due to this treatment renovates scar tissue.
Although this treatment doesn’t completely remove acne scars, it can reduce their appearance and minimize the pain they cause.
If you have active acne, a darker skin tone, or very wrinkled skin, you may not be a good candidate for this treatment. Only a dermatologist can tell you if laser acne scar treatment is a good course of action for you.
What Causes Scars?
Scars are the result of injury or trauma to your skin. The severity of this type of injury varies, with more severe injuries resulting in larger and deeper scars.
If your skin is damaged, all available resources will be transferred to the affected area to repair the damage as quickly as possible. Because of this, scars don’t have the same smooth, orderly pattern as normal skin. Your body makes collagen (a type of protein) to repair the damage.
Scars can have side effects that affect your life, including:
Movement disorders, especially if the scar is over a joint or is particularly narrow
Pain persists long after wound closure
A look you don’t like or are unsure about
What Is Laser Scar Treatment?
Laser treatment is also known as laser skin resurfacing or laser scar correction. This treatment can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, skin lesions, and scars. Its result is long-lasting for many years after a scar has formed.
Laser treatment is performed in a doctor’s office and does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. The doctor will use a local anesthetic in the treatment area and you may be given an oral sedative.
During the treatment, beams of light are used to either remove scar tissue or poke holes in it, depending on the type of laser used. Both methods stimulate collagen production and allow your body to have new, smoother skin. After treatment, your scar should appear lighter and less noticeable.
Laser treatment does not completely remove scars. Essentially, you’re replacing one scar with another that’s smaller and not as noticeable. It may also take several treatments before you see the results you want.
How Does Laser Scar Removal Work?
Two types of laser treatment are available including CO2 laser therapy and fractional laser therapy.
CO2 laser therapy. This type of therapy uses short pulses of light or continuous beams of light to remove thin layers of skin with minimal damage to the surrounding skin. A small amount of scar tissue is targeted with each treatment, so larger scars may require multiple visits. The recovery time for this type of therapy can be up to two weeks.
Fractional Laser Therapy. This therapy uses narrow columns of light to collagen in the scar tightening. Less skin is injured, but because the laser goes deeper, there is also the potential for additional scarring and a longer recovery time. The typical recovery time for this type of treatment is one week.
If you are considering laser treatment, make an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss the procedure. They look at the scar you want to treat and make a recommendation on the best type of laser treatment.
How To Prepare
Doctors may recommend taking certain steps before the procedure to ensure it is as effective and safe as possible. This can include:
Avoid medications (aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen) and herbs (Garlic or Ginko Biloba) that increase the risk of bleeding. It’s important to tell the doctor about prescription blood thinners.
Avoid glycolic acid or retinoid products for 2-4 weeks.
Stay out of the sun and avoid prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Doctors may not be able to use laser therapy if a person is tanned or sunburned.
Avoid cosmetic procedures like chemical peels, collagen injections, and waxing.
Avoid smoking just 2 to 3 weeks before the treatment. Smoking impairs the skin’s ability to heal, which can affect the success of treatment.
On the day of the procedure, the person should avoid using lotions, deodorants, perfumes, or any other product that could potentially interact with the laser treatment. The skin should also be clean.
Depending on which part of the body needs treatment, a doctor will usually recommend wearing clothes that are easy to put on and take off, such as a soft button-down shirt and loose-fitting pants.
Before a person undergoes laser treatment, a doctor examines the scar and marks the skin with a pen to identify the area to be treated.
Below is an example of how the treatment process may go:
- A doctor will clean the area around the scar and may inject a local anesthetic or apply a numbing cream to the area.
- If the scar is on the face, they may ask the person to wear safety glasses.
- The doctor places wet towels or gauze around the scarred area to absorb laser pulses that would otherwise affect healthy skin.
- The doctor leads the laser over the scar tissue. You can occasionally apply a cooling saline or water solution.
- After the treatment is complete, the doctor will apply an ointment and a clean bandage to cover the area.
- Redness remains for a few hours after the treatment. There may also be slight swelling and burning that feels similar to a sunburn.
- After the procedure, doctors often recommend applying moisturizing lotion to the area at least twice a day and not applying makeup until the redness has gone.
Are There Risks?
A doctor should discuss possible side effects and risks with the person before laser procedures are performed. Side effects can depend on the type of laser, the severity of the scar, and the person’s skin tone.
Various side effects are common such as:
- light bleeding
- light pain
- skin infection
- skin crusting
- skin discoloration
“Warning:” It is also possible that laser scar treatment may prove ineffective or worsen the appearance of the scar.
Darker Skin Does Not Necessarily Preclude You From Laser Treatment
A common misconception is that laser resurfacing is only safe for fair skin types. While it’s true that certain lasers pose a greater risk of cell damage or discoloration in darker skin, there are safe and effective resurfacing options. For lighter African-American, Hispanic, or Asian skin tones, Erbium laser resurfacing can sometimes be a good option as it poses a lower risk of discoloration. Patients with darker brown or black skin may need to consider other skin resurfacing options such as B. High-frequency treatments or microneedling.
The effective way to ensure a comfortable and beneficial medication for your skin type? Use a provider who has extensive training and knowledge of laser treatment procedures and experience working with darker-skinned patients.
Different Lasers For Different Skin Issues And Skin Types
The reason there are so many different laser options is that no laser can treat all patients and all skin problems. Here are some strains you’re likely to encounter in your research:
These types are generally ablative lasers used to treat scars, warts, wrinkles, and other deeper skin defects. Popular brands of CO2 lasers include Acupulse by Lumenis, MiXto Pro Laser by Lasering USA, and CO2RE by Candela
Erbium (Er:YAG) Lasers
This laser can be ablative or non-ablative. For the treatment of fine lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, and age spots, they stimulate collagen remodeling which makes them popular.
Pulsed Dye Lasers
These are typically non-ablative lasers that heat the skin and absorb pigment to reduce redness, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries, and rosacea. One of the most popular dye lasers is the Candela Vbeam Perfecta.
This type of laser breaks up laser energy into thousands of tiny beams to treat only a fraction of the skin in the area, reducing downtime. Ablative or non-ablative are related to fractional lasers which are used to treat a number of age-related blemishes. Popular brands of fractional lasers include Mode’s Fractora and Solta Medical’s Fraxel.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)
IPL treatments are not technically lasers but are often used to treat similar issues to lasers, such as B. Sun damage, vascular lesions, acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation. Popular IPL skin resurfacing brands include inMode’s Vasculaze and inMode’s Lumecca Find out more about IPL treatments.
When choosing a laser skin resurfacing treatment, focus on your individual goals: what skin issues are you trying to address and what results are you hoping for? The good news is that you don’t have to determine this yourself: a board-certified cosmetic surgeon or qualified skin care professional trained in laser resurfacing can recommend the best treatment based on your skin type.
10 Facts About Laser Skin Resurfacing Scar
1.Scars Treated Not Eliminated:
Laser treatment cannot eliminate a scar. Recent medical advances have made lasers the preferred treatment for many scars for dermatologists. Laser treatment can:
- Prevent raised scars from forming after surgery
- Reduce scar pain and itching
- Increase your range of motion when a scar restricts movement
- Laser treatment can also make a scar less noticeable, but it cannot eliminate a scar. When you undergo laser scar treatment, you replace one scar with another, less noticeable scar.
2. Choose Dermatologist Wisely:
Your results largely depend on the skills of the person performing the laser treatment. Dermatologists are leaders in researching and treating scars with lasers. In the hands of a board-certified dermatologist, laser resurfacing can safely treat many types of scars. If the person performing your laser treatment lacks medical expertise and knowledge about the skin, the laser treatment may not provide the desired results. It can even be dangerous.
3. Wrong Guidelines:
A meeting with a specialist is important before any laser therapy. If someone promises to treat your scar before offering medical advice, walk away. The person performing your laser treatment must know you. Everyone is unique. To effectively treat a scar, the person performing your laser treatment must consider your skin type, the characteristics of your skin, and your general health.
During the medical consultation, tell your dermatologist if you:
- get cold sores
- Do you have any medical condition, including diabetes
- Are you taking any medication or dietary supplements
It’s also important for your dermatologist to know what results to expect from the treatment. Be honest.
4. Sun Rays Side Effects:
Avoid direct Sun rays before and after laser treatment. If you show up for laser treatment with a tan or sunburn, your dermatologist won’t be able to treat you. Using a laser can cause severe burns or discoloration of the skin.
After laser treatment, you need to protect your skin from the sun until your skin has healed. The acne scar appears again if the sun rays directly hit your treated skin.
5. Dermatologist Recommendation:
You may need to make some lifestyle changes before treatment. For good healing and better results from a laser treatment, dermatologists recommend patients:
- Avoid smoking 2 weeks before laser treatment.
- Stop taking vitamin E, aspirin, and other drugs and supplements that can delay healing.
- Avoid using skin care products that contain retinol or glycolic acid for 2 to 4 weeks.
- Take medication to prevent cold sores if you are prone to developing cold sores.
- Avoid the sun, the solarium, or the sunlamps. They cannot be treated if you have a tan or sunburn.
6. Multiple Sitting:
Your treatment plan may include more than one laser treatment. To provide patients with the best results, dermatologists often use more than one treatment for scars. For instance, if a patient has deep acne scars, that patient requires more than one sitting for laser treatment. The patient can also get a filler.
7. Non-Ablative Laser:
You may need more than one laser treatment. To provide a patient with long-lasting results and the greatest possible improvement, a dermatologist may schedule a series of laser treatments. This is often required when using a type of laser referred to as a non-ablative laser. There is no downtime with this laser, but you may need a few laser treatments to see the results you want.
8. Care At Home:
After the laser treatment, you need to take care of the treated area at home. Follow your dermatologist’s instructions for at-home care after laser treatment for best results and to prevent possible side effects.
It takes some time to show results. It may be months before you see the results of laser scar treatment and you may see little improvement at first.
10. Treatments Not Covered By Health Insurance:
Insurance may not cover costs. Laser scar treatment can relieve the pain and itching that scars sometimes cause. If a scar limits activity, laser treatment gives the desired results. Still, insurance providers consider laser treatments to be cosmetic treatments. The costs for cosmetic treatments are usually not covered by health insurance companies.
If you’re considering laser scar treatment, the best way to find out if it’s right for you is to meet with a board-certified dermatologist. You can find a specialist in laser procedures under “Find dermatologists” – select the specialty “Laser procedures”.
Doctors can use laser therapy as a single treatment or in combination with other approaches to reduce pain, itching, and the appearance of scars. The skin looks more beautiful, and healthier rather than scarred.
If a person is concerned about the cosmetic appearance of a scar, or if a scar is physically uncomfortable, they can talk to their doctor about treatment options.