Sheen on Skin: Laser for Acne Scars

Treatments You Need to Know

Contrary to some beliefs that only teenagers get acne, statistics show that acne actually happens to 25% of adult men and 50% of adult women. But with innovative technology nowadays comes a more modernistic approach to treating acne and acne scars—something to be grateful for.

There are a lot of options available but laser for acne scars is becoming more popular and seem like a standard procedure for a faster and more efficient way to remove or at least lighten acne scars. Keep reading to know more about acne laser treatment, its side effects, and things to consider before doing so.

Things to Consider Before Undergoing Laser Treatments
Laser Treatment for Acne Scars – Everything You Need to Know
   Ablative laser resurfacing
   Non-ablative laser resurfacing
   Fractionated laser treatment
Post-Procedure Reminders
   Side Effects and What to Expect After the Procedure
   What to Do After the Procedure
Keep in Mind

Acne scars occur when acne breakout clears but this is not always the case for all people suffering from this skin dilemma. However, genetic predisposition most likely increases the risk when a person has a blood relative who developed acne scars. Other factors that could risk someone developing acne scars include: picking or popping acne, someone who has inflammatory (swollen, reddish, and painful) acne, and delaying or not treating inflammatory acne.

Regardless of how you’ve got your acne scars, the best thing to do now is how to get rid of them. Before choosing what you think is the best option for you, read the below points to consider before undergoing acne laser treatment or other dermatological procedures available.

Things to Consider Before Undergoing Laser Treatments

Doctors, specifically dermatologists, know best about what you need to do and to have before undergoing acne laser treatments. But the below points might help you more before deciding on a trip to the clinic:

  1. Cost

Health insurance does not typically cover cosmetic treatments. The average out-of-pocket cost for laser skin resurfacing is around $2,000 for ablative and $1,100 for non-ablative laser treatment, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Apart from that, costs may vary for the treatment required depending on some factors which include:

  • the number of scars you’re treating
  • the size of the area being targeted for treatment
  • the number of treatments you’ll need
  • the experience level of your provider
  1. Change in lifestyle

It isn’t necessary if you already have a healthy and ideal lifestyle. But you may need to make changes in your routine to give room for quick and complete healing of the lasered skin area. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), for best results, dermatologists recommend that patients will:

  • Quit smoking for at least 2 weeks before laser treatment.
  • Stop taking vitamin E, aspirin, and other medications and supplements that can delay healing.
  • Stop using skin care products that contain a retinoid or glycolic acid for 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Take medication to prevent getting cold sores if you’re prone to developing cold sores.
  • Avoid the sun, tanning bed, or sunlamp. You cannot be treated if you have a tan or sunburn.
  1. Give extra time for skincare 

If you already have a beauty regimen, after doing an acne laser treatment, you might need to improvise and give a little extra time to take care of your skin. You don’t just want to spend too much money on something you can’t take care of. 

Among all the skin care products, sunblock should never be missing in your vanity area. Too much exposure to the sun and other artificial lights can cause sunburn and other skin damage. Be sure not to skip a day without applying sunblock even if you are just at home. 

Face and body sunscreen lotion:

  1. Medical consultation before the treatment

Before the procedure, your dermatologist will review your medical history and will most probably conduct a physical exam. Your doctor will also let you know about what to expect, potential risks, and outcomes of the procedure.

Treatment Using Laser for Acne Scars – Everything You Need to Know

Laser for acne scars does not totally mean that it will get rid of the acne scarring completely but it gives a significant change on your skin, making the scars appear less raised and red and helping your skin to heal.

Laser Treatment for Acne Scars

Below are the most common lasers for acne scars procedures that use different devices but work in a specific way targeting the type of acne scars you have.

  1. Ablative laser resurfacing

Ablative laser resurfacing aims to remove the entire top layer of your skin in the area where you have acne scarring, by using an instrument called erbium YAG or carbon dioxide CO2 laser. This procedure works by sending short, concentrated beams of pulsing light into areas of irregular skin, removing damaged skin a layer at a time. This kind of laser treatment is sometimes called “laser peeling” as it removes old skin cells to reveal newer, more vibrant cells.

  1. Non-ablative laser resurfacing

Non-ablative laser resurfacing is a type of laser treatment that uses an infrared laser that stimulates collagen production and encourages new cell growth to replace damaged, scarred tissue. The heat from this laser device promotes the healing of the skin, making it smoother and more youthful.

  1. Fractionated laser treatment

This type of laser is recommended for those who have thick and bumpy acne scars.

Fractional lasers (Fraxel) aim to stimulate the tissue underneath the scar to remove cells that are darkly pigmented underneath the top layer of the skin. This laser also stimulates collagen production to make scars smoother.

Post-Procedure Reminders

There will be some side effects and risks in getting lasers to treat acne scars (which should have been discussed by your doctor before the procedure). 

Recommendations and instructions from your doctor are important for the complete healing of your skin so pay more attention during the discussion.

Side Effects and What to Expect After the Procedure

These side effects may vary per person and per what kind of laser device is used but the most common among them are as follows:

Typical side effects may include:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • pain at the site of treatment
  • pain from laser treatment for acne scars is usually gone after an hour or two.
  • redness may take up to 10 days to subside.
  • itch or sting for 12 to 72 hours after treatment.
  • slough and peel off old skin five to seven days after treatment.

Healing usually takes 10-21 days depending on the size and location of the lasered skin but again, for best results, follow the recommended steps listed above. But if there’s noticeable pus, extensive swelling, or fever after laser treatment for acne scarring, you’ll need to speak to your doctor right away.

What to Do After the Procedure

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery recommends that after the procedure, patients should:

  • Clean the treatment area after the first 24 hours and then four to five times a day thereafter.
  • Apply an ointment, such as petroleum jelly, after cleaning to prevent scabs from forming.

When the lasered skin is fully healed, it is advised that patients shall:

  • Use only oil-free makeup for at least two to three months.
  • Apply sunscreen and avoid sun exposure.
  • Keep new skin well-moisturized.
  • Stay hydrated.

Keep in Mind

Acne laser treatments are not just about getting the outer skin to look smooth but it is more about improving the underneath layer of your skin to stimulate collagen production which promotes skin elasticity and hydration. If you have the chance to take in collagen in your body, get as much as you can to catch up with the losses we get as we age.

There are a few lists of recommended steps and products post-procedure but the most important is to never miss a day without applying sunblock. Exposure to the sun or even on man-made lights or even computer screens emits UV that can cause skin damage. Be sure to choose the best sunblock and other skin care products that suit your needs.