Congratulations – you finally won your ongoing battle with acne! Though the journey was probably tough (and left you with a graveyard of half-used skin products), getting rid of your blemishes for good deserves a celebration.
That is until you realize some of those spots left a not-so-nice parting gift... acne scars and discolouration. Does the journey ever end?
Although it can be discouraging to see those scars when you look in the mirror, getting rid of them isn’t as tough as you might think. We sat down with Madison Noakes, Senior Medical Aesthetician, to learn all about acne scars and how to achieve a smooth, clear complexion.
What Are Acne Scars?
First things first: what are acne scars? They’re a type of scar that shows up when a blemish causes damage to the skin and surrounding tissue.
Some acne will heal on its own and not leave a noticeable scar behind. But if the acne is deep (think: cystic) or undergoes excessive force (think: picking and popping), the damage left behind can be a bit more serious – and long-lasting.
"Cystic blemishes can cause acne scars because they come from that deeper dermal layer of the skin,” Madison explains. “Although it’s not the surface skin, there’s still damage done to the deeper layers. Popping pimples with a lot of force can also cause acne scars because you’re causing breakage to the surrounding skin using your fingers or nails.”
When the deeper layer of the skin becomes damaged, it needs a little help from its friends to repair itself: collagen! This is a protein your body produces that allows new skin tissue to form. When it doesn’t send enough collagen to repair the damaged skin, it creates an acne scar that looks sunken in appearance. And if it sends too much collagen, it creates an acne scar that looks raised.
Discolouration can also occur. “This is caused by an enzyme called tyrosinase which causes pigmentation,” Madison adds. Some people produce more tyrosinase than others, which means their discolouration will be more noticeable. It’s also important to realize that everyone’s skin is different, so it's possible to have more than one type of acne scar present.
Curious about the different types of acne scars that exist? Here’s a breakdown of the basics.
Types of Acne Scars
The first type of acne scar is atrophic. “This is when there’s a loss of collagen, so it almost looks like an indentation in the skin,” Madison explains. There are three types of atrophic scars that are characterized by their shape and depth: box car, ice pick, and rolling.
The second type of acne scar is hypertrophic. This is when scar tissue accumulates and creates a spot that appears raised.
Lastly, there is hyperpigmentation. This is when inflamed acne subsides and leaves a dark-coloured spot in its place. The reason why it appears darker is because of the increased production of melanin (pigment) during the healing process.
All three of these types of acne scars can be frustrating to deal with. Everyone’s skin is unique, and the texture of your complexion can vary based on the type(s) of acne you previously dealt with. One person might have some mild hyperpigmentation they want to lighten, whereas another might have deep icepick scars on their cheeks from dealing with hormonal acne. Regardless of the type of acne scars you’re dealing with, there are ways to get rid of them and reveal smoother skin.
How to Get Rid of Acne Scars
We asked Madison for her top recommendations. Here’s what she had to say!
Use targeted products. Skincare can make or break things when it comes to reducing acne scars. Luckily, there are products available specifically designed to treat them! "Tyrosinase inhibitors can be really helpful,” she says. These are products that will help by lightening your scars. “Glycolic acids at a higher percentage can also increase cell turnover and reach the deeper dermal layers, which will even out the pigmentation on both the outside and inside of the skin.”
If you’re not sure which targeted products you should reach for, you can always book a skincare consultation with a member of our team.
Create a routine that includes exfoliation. As important as it is to use products that target acne scars, you should always remember the basics. Lock in a consistent routine that includes a cleanser, exfoliator, moisturizer, and SPF. “Exfoliating is a key step because it ensures there’s no buildup of dead skin cells,” Madison shares. SPF also prevents your existing scars from getting darker due to sun damage.
Consider professional treatments. Your at-home routine is only half of the puzzle. Visiting an Aesthetitican like Madison will take your results to the next level and beyond! There are a variety of professional treatments options that can help reduce the appearance of acne scars:
- Nanofractional Radio Frequency. This helps by reducing the appearance of pigmentation in the skin. Madison points out that if you have atrophic scars, it’s best to get microneedling treatment first so that the scars can be plumped out before they’re lightened.
- IPL Photo Facial Therapy. This helps by breaking apart pigmentation and discolouration. It works great on both acne scars and sun damage.
- Microneedling. This helps by creating small micro-punctures in the skin. As a result, more collagen tissue is created which can help to “fill in” the appearance of scars on your face.
- Glycolic acid. This is a product that can be applied during a professional facial. It encourages the skin’s natural exfoliation process and reduces the appearance of scars. At HealthOne, we’ll select a glycolic acid solution that’s suitable for your skin’s unique needs.
Do Acne Scars Go Away?
If you follow our three recommendations above, you’ll notice a significant decrease in the visibility of your acne scars. Targeted products, a good skincare routine (that includes exfoliation), and professional treatments can do wonders.
It’s also important to recognize what you can do to prevent acne scars in the first place. Although everyone’s skin is different, certain things can reduce your likelihood of developing acne and the possible scars that follow.
“I always tell people to make sure their routine is non-comedogenic,” Madison shares. “This way there won’t be any film leftover on your skin that will cause congestion or inhibit products from penetrating into the skin to reach the deeper layers and work more efficiently.
A clean diet also helps, and many people see an improvement in their skin after cutting out dairy. If you’d like to learn more about how certain things in your diet could be impacting your skin, we have a Naturopathic Doctor who can help you find the root cause!
Finally, one of the biggest things you can do – even though it might be tempting – is keep your hands off your face. Popping pimples and doing extractions is one of the biggest causes of acne scars. The last thing you want to do is damage your skin! Focus on using effective products and treating your acne at the root cause instead of picking at it.
“I think it’s so important for everyone to remember that these things are normal,” Madison concludes. “Everyone has dealt with acne and imperfections at some point, and it’s often a big source of insecurity for people. But those insecurities can definitely be treated when you do the right things, the right treatments, and have the right at-home routine.”
As someone who has struggled to overcome acne herself, Madison understands how valuable it is to feel comfortable in your own skin. “It plays such an important role in helping us put our best self forward both mentally and physically,” she says.
With a lot of patience and a little help from the right skincare team, you can get rid of your acne scars once and for all to reveal a smooth, healthy complexion!
Click here to book a free consultation with Madison Noakes, Senior Medical Aesthetician.
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