Even the most self-controlled among us who may never have picked a pimple or a chicken pox in their life will have some scarring left behind. It is just the skins way of healing from any blemish. Fortunately this scarring for the most is very mild and only visible upon close inspection of the skin – a privilege normally reserved for loved ones and doctors.
Usually healing from acne scarring can be assisted greatly by eating the right foods and treated using prescription and over the counter products such as retinoids. These methods have a lot of happy customers. However, sometimes these products are just not enough and the scarring is just too difficult to get rid of.
Fortunately, more serious acne scarring is not as common, but those affected by it can suffer in all areas of their life. It affects our self-esteem and body self-image. In this is the case it is important to do what you can in order to assist your skin to recover its healthy complexion. If you are one of those people who have had no luck with topical scar treatments, then you may need to start considering laser treatment.
Before we look at the different laser acne scar removal treatments available, we need to understand the different types of scarring that occur. We can then determin what treatments will be the most suitable for you. There are four main types of scars that occur as a result of suffering from acne. These are categorised as:
- Keloid or Hypertrophic
- Ice Pick
How Does Laser Scar Removal Work
Laser scar removal can be used on rolling, boxcar and ice picks scar types but not keloid or hypertrophic. It works by using a laser to precisely target your scar tissue skin and burns it off. As a result new, healthy skin can grow in its place, greatly reducing the scarring effect.
The process involves the patient having a local anaesthetic while a laser is passed over the skin up to three times, removing the layers off scar tissue as needed.It is very important to remember that laser scar removal is a very new procedure and has not been around for very long. That means that the techniques used are still evolving and being perfected. The reality is that the results can be somewhat varied.
The cost of laser treatment is expensive, coming in around $3,000-6,000 per treatment. The chances are you may have to undergo the treatment more than once. You may also be able to have the treatment done under a healthcare insurance policy.
The CO2 Acne Scar Removal Laser
The CO2 laser is a very powerful treatment removing deep layers of scar damaged skin. It can have very positive and dramatic results and is favoured in cases of extreme scarring or skin resurfacing. A single treatment for acne scarring usually lasts from 15 to 45 minutes.
The negatives are that the side effects, which include redness of skin and are likely to be much stronger and last longer due to the severity of the treatment. The initial reaction fades after two weeks where the skin begins to recover and heal. Depending on the intensity of the treatment, the healing process will take 1 – 4 months.
Erbium skin or Er:YAG Laser
The Erbium laser is another type of laser used for acne scar removal. This treatment tends to be much milder with greatly reduced side effects. It works by sending highly targeted pulses of light to the scar tissue. An anethetic will also be required due to the pain involved in such a process.
Healing only takes a few days rather than the month or more for the CO2 laser. It is however considered much less effective as a result and is suitable for much lower levels of scarring.
Laser Skin Needling or Fractional Laser
The fractional laser or laser skin needling is a much gentler process and more accessible cost wise. No anaesthetic is required and healing time is much faster. Because of this, it is much more common for more cosmetic based treatments with people using it to treat wrinkles and laughter lines as well as acne scarring. It’s also suitable for patients with darker skin types due to the accurate targeting of the laser.
To treat acne scars you will need about 4/5 treatments each costing up to $1000 each. The side effects are a lot less than the CO2 laser with redness, flakiness and swelling all reducing after just a few days. The fractional laser is suitable for all scar types but not for keloid type scarring.
All of these types of laser scar removal have the potential to have a lot of lasting side effects. It’s very important to speak to your doctor or dermatologist so you fully understand the risks involved in having such a treatment.