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3 Treatments for Pitted, Atrophic Acne Scars

Acne is the bane of teenage existence, but it doesn’t stop there. Acne blemishes can continue into adulthood and leave behind scars that make you self-conscious about your appearance. This common condition affects some 80% of people between 11 and 30, which is why an entire industry has been built around treating outbreaks and the scars they create.

At Eterna Vein & Medical Aesthetics, our expert team of aestheticians understands how uncomfortable acne and acne scars can be, which is why we offer a number of state-of-the-art laser treatments to help give you a clean and clear complexion.

The causes and types of acne

If you believe the scuttlebutt, acne results from greasy foods, poor hygiene, and harmful makeup. The truth is that while these may contribute to outbreaks, they’re not the main source.

Your skin tissue contains tiny openings called pores, which allow oil and sweat to rise to the surface and exit the body. A pimple (aka a lesion) develops when the oil combines with bacteria, dirt, and dead skin cells, filling and clogging the pores or a hair follicle and causing inflammation.

The most common forms of acne are pus-filled whiteheads and blackheads (named for their color) that are small and usually resolve without scarring. However, if the pores and follicles remain inflamed or the inflammation is severe, it can lead to other types of acne known for causing scars.

Other types of acne include:

  • Pustules: pus-filled swellings

  • Papules: pink or red bumps sore to the touch

  • Nodules: solid, deep lesions larger and more painful than papules and pustules

  • Cysts: painful, deep pustules that are likely to scar

The causes and types of acne scars

If papules, pustules, or cysts become infected, the thick mix of oil, bacteria, and dead cells can cause the pore or hair follicle to rupture, allowing some of the infected material to leak down into the middle skin layer (the dermis), destroying healthy tissue. Your body responds to the damage by creating a fibrous protein called collagen, an important component of skin structure. If the skin produces too much collagen, though, the extra cells form a visible scar. This scar can be raised or depressed and is often lighter or darker than the skin around it.

Most people who develop acne scars have more than one type. Acne scars come in three major types:

  1. Atrophic (pitted): if collagen doesn’t completely fill the rupture, the loss of tissue results in a shallow indentation

  2. Hypertrophic: excess collagen production causes a raised ridge the same size as the original blemish

  3. Keloid: excess collagen production causes a raised ridge that grows beyond the edges of the original blemish

A blemish can also lead to skin discoloration as part of the natural healing process, often appearing red or brown.

3 treatments for pitted (atrophic) acne scars

There are myriad creams and lotions available over-the-counter at the pharmacy that promise to treat your acne scars, but you’ll find them severely limited in what they can do. That’s why we offer three in-office options designed specifically to treat unwanted scars.

1. Plasma resurfacing (Neogen)

Plasma resurfacing is a regenerative skin procedure uses ionized nitrogen gas. The energy from the gas travels into your deeper skin layers without damaging the outer layers. Your cells respond to this energy by building more collagen cells and restructuring your elastin, another protein that gives your skin resiliency. The new tissue fills in the indented scars, giving you smoother-looking skin.

2. CO2 resurfacing

CO2 laser resurfacing is an ablative treatment, meaning the laser removes the outer layers of your skin. The advantage of ablation is that you require fewer treatments than non-ablative options.

Like plasma resurfacing, CO2 laser resurfacing also heats the middle skin layer, prompting the body to increase collagen and elastin production that fill in atrophic scars.

3. Icon® laser by Cynosure®

Icon is an FDA-approved device that treats several skin conditions with a single unit. In addition to filling in pitted acne scars, it can also address:

  • Crow’s feet

  • Fine lines and wrinkles

  • Sun damage

As many people with acne scars also have other skin imperfections, we often recommend the Icon to tackle as many problems as possible in one go.

The Icon is a non-ablative laser, which means it doesn’t remove the skin’s surface layers. As a result, the treatment is gentler than, say, CO2 resurfacing, and it requires no downtime.

Not sure which treatment is right for you? Contact the master aestheticians at Eterna Vein & Medical Aesthetics to schedule a consultation. Give us a call at 253-268-3400 today.


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