Acne scars: Are they permanent?

Acne has affected almost all of us, whether you have experienced persistent acne or occasional flare-ups, it can make us feel self-conscious about our appearance.
As teenagers, we have all had the same thought.
“I can’t wait for the day I wake up without a spot on my face”.
Unfortunately for some of us, it gets worse. Some people do continue to struggle with scarring or discoloured patches. And they seem to hang around a lot longer than the spot that used to be there. Why?
Let's start by looking at discoloured patches (aka Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation)
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
What is it? Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a flat area of discolouration on the skin. Depending on the skin type, the discolouration can present as white, brown, pink, red, black or purple.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
Why does this happen after acne? This happens when a spot causes inflammation. As the skin heals, it can cause too much melanin. Melanin is the protein which gives the skin it's colour, therefore this can darken the skin.
So if you have a large breakout, you may be left with a larger and darker area of hyperpigmentation.
Acne Scars
Some breakouts may leave behind pitted, raised or discoloured scars. The type of scar depends on if the body produces too much or too little collagen when healing.
Atrophic Acne Scars
These kinds of acne scars look pitted, due to the destruction and loss of collagen during the healing process. There are 3 different types of Atrophic Acne Scars; Rolling, Ice Pick and Boxing.
Hypertrophic Acne Scars
Hypertrophic acne scars are scars that are raised due to the excess collagen, these scars may appear discoloured also.
Types of acne
Are acne scars permanent?
When left untreated, Acne scars can be permanent. But there are so many ways they can be treated, with in clinic treatments and skin care products.
Let's explore some of the most effective ways to treat acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Chemical Peels
Chemical peels are an effective way to treat acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This procedure involves applying a chemical solution to the skin, which causes the outer layer to peel off, revealing smoother and clearer skin underneath. Chemical peels come in various strengths, and your dermatologist will determine which one is best for your skin type and condition.
Chemical peel
Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure that involves using a small device with tiny needles to create tiny punctures in the skin. This stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which can help to reduce the appearance of acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
ULTRAcel works by penetrating the skin with high-frequency sound waves, which stimulate the production of new collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis. This can help to fill in depressed acne scars, improve skin texture, and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation caused by acne.
Laser resurfacing is a popular treatment for acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This procedure involves using a laser to remove the outer layer of skin, revealing smoother and more even-toned skin underneath. Laser resurfacing is highly effective, but it may require multiple treatments to achieve the desired results.
Laser Treatment
Retinoids are a type of vitamin A that can help to improve the appearance of acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These topical creams work by increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen production, which can help to reduce the appearance of scars and hyperpigmentation. Retinoids are available in prescription strength and over-the-counter formulations.
Sun Protection
Sun protection is essential for anyone with acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Exposure to the sun can worsen hyperpigmentation and make scars more noticeable. Be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher every day, even on cloudy days.
In conclusion, acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be challenging to treat, but there are several effective options available. If you're struggling with these skin issues, speak with a dermatologist to determine which treatment is best for your skin type and condition.
Remember to be patient and consistent with your skincare routine, and always protect your skin from the sun. With time and the right treatments, you can achieve smoother, clearer, and more even-toned skin.