What Causes Acne Scarring (and What You Can Do About It)

What Causes Acne Scarring (and What You Can Do About It)
What Causes Acne Scarring (and What You Can Do About It)

Acne on its own is bad enough. The worst part about acne, however, is often what comes after—acne scarring. Scarring can be difficult to prevent. This is especially true when you have deep acne that infects the deeper layers of skin, known as the dermis. If you’ve been struggling with acne scarring, know that you’re not helpless. Knowing what causes acne scarring and the different treatment options can help you get smoother, more vibrant skin. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Do Some People Get Acne Scars?

Just about everyone gets pimples at some point during their lives. While people with oily skin are the most susceptible, even people with dry skin get a zit from time to time. If you’re just getting the occasional whitehead or blackhead, you probably won’t have to worry about scarring too much. Only a certain kind of acne tends to produce the telltale pitted look of acne scarring.

Acne scarring is usually caused by inflamed lesions that break at the dermis level, deeper below the surface of the skin. The bacteria and debris cause damage to the dermis, prompting the body to create more collagen for healing purposes. Collagen stimulation is a great treatment for older people who want to achieve more youthful skin. It’s not so great when it’s responding to acne damage. It’s collagen overproduction that creates “icepick” acne scarring. Think of collagen repair like a patch job on a piece of clothing. Even if the fabric is the same, the repaired product will never look quite as good as the original. The repaired area will always look a little bit different.

Preventing Acne Scars

If you don’t already have acne scars and you’re worried about developing them, that’s actually good news: it means you can start right away on prevention. You might already be dealing with painful acne. Cystic acne is the type most likely to produce scarring, as it affects the lower layers of skin. Talking with a dermatologist about your treatment options can be key to preventing scarring if you have cystic acne. Early treatment is the best method of prevention. Unfortunately, there is often a genetic component to cystic acne.

Whether you have cystic acne or the more common whiteheads and blackheads, it’s important not to pick or touch your face too much. It can be hard not to squeeze pimples, but it’s very easy to introduce bacteria and more oil to the area, or even create scarring.

Powerful Treatments for Acne Scarring

There is some bad news when it comes to treating acne scars: it is a difficult problem to treat, and treatment is unlikely to completely remove acne scarring. Now, some good news: new treatments are effective at significantly improving acne scars, and they’re much less invasive than they were in the past. Patients who would like to reduce pitting and scarring from acne can talk with a plastic surgeon or dermatologist about fractionated laser skin resurfacing, with or without a chemical peel.

For hybrid fractionated laser resurfacing, Dr. Buckingham uses the Halo laser system because it is able to improve both acne scars and the skin as a whole. In many cases, these laser treatments can provide patients with satisfactory results.

More severe acne scarring may still be treated with the traditional combination of dermabrasion and a deep chemical peel. This is rare, however, as modern treatments can often offer good results without resorting to these invasive measures.

Addressing Tissue Loss

One aspect of acne scarring that many people don’t know about is that when the acne damages the facial tissues, facial fat loss often occurs. Resurfacing can create new collagen that helps to even out the skin, but volume loss can affect the vibrant youthfulness of the face. If necessary, a fat transfer procedure can be performed to restore lost volume. This involves a minor surgical procedure to remove fat from one area of the body so it can be injected into the face, improving areas of facial volume loss. Though some of the injected fat will not survive, the cells that do will become permanent, producing long-lasting rejuvenation.

Discuss Your Options

Acne scarring can take a major toll on a person’s self-esteem and confidence. If you’re struggling to feel good about your facial aesthetics because of icepick scars, then it may be time to discuss your options with Dr. Edward Buckingham at Buckingham Center in Austin, TX.

Dr. Buckingham is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon who believes in using gentler approaches whenever possible to achieve beautiful natural results. For more information, call 512-401-2500 to reach Buckingham Center in Austin and schedule your consultation today.