Between treating your acne scars early and late, some people choose to have theirs treated late, thinking their acne scars will improve without treatment over time.
Skin doctors do not agree.
“Acne scars look deeper as people get older, particularly as they approach their 40s, because natural aging results in collagen loss and general loss in facial volume or fat” says Dr Michelle Lim, Medical Aesthetic Consultant at the SW1 Clinic. “Younger skin also regenerates better so theoretically, acne scars treatments started in your 20s or 30s are also more effective.” For these reasons, she chooses more aggressive treatments for her patients in this younger age bracket.
Another obvious motivation for treating acne scars early? “There is a definite advantage to having a crystal clear complexion socially and even for work. It’s like going to the mall with and without makeup on and feeling like I get different treatments from people depending on how I look” says Amelia, IT Consultant.
Is it difficult to have acne scars erased? Dr Michelle says it depends on the type of scars. The deep, narrow ice-pick scars are more difficult whereas others respond to treatments well.
DEEPER ACNE SCARS? HAVE LASERS DONE.
What happens when we get lasers for our acne scars? Deeper acne scars (rolling scars, box scars, atrophic scars, ice pick scars) do better with laser treatments, such as the SmartX, Pico Smooth or the Fraxel Dual. These help with the texture of the scar when the body kickstarts a skin healing response after the laser treatment, which stimulates collagen production, flattening out the scar over time.
A series of 4 to 6 treatments are usually required 4 to 6 weeks apart for best results. Dr Michelle Lim may also opt for subcision for select scars that are tethered down within the skin layers, and then a combination of skin refining treatments such as Rejuran with the laser treatment.
Reddish scars can be treated with a pulsed dye laser such as the VBeam and brown pigments will respond to the Pico Pigment laser, a gentle treatment which removes unwanted pigments beneath the skin with its photoacoustic effect.
“With lasers, the results can be drastic within a few months, but the stronger the treatment, the less tolerance for sun exposure” warns Dr Michelle. So plan ahead for your treatment.
NOT INTO LASERS? TRY A PRODUCT.
If you are not really the “laser type”, you can try a product. Pigmented acne scars generally lighten over months but those with darker skin may observe that these take forever to go away. Try a lightening cream such as Special Effects, which contains mequinol, a skin lightening agent similar to hydroquinol but without the risk of onchronosis (development of bluish dark discolouration associated with prolonged hydroquinone use).
Dr Michelle also puts her patients on a mild skin renewal product, such as Unicorn Tears, which contains retinol, or Sleep Mode, a sustained release glycolic acid oil-free moisturizing serum to promote a smoother and more radiant appearance.
“The best treatment for acne is not to have it, so treat acne early before it scars. But once the scar is formed, you will need to seek treatment to restore your skin quickly”.
By Megan Thomas