Acne scarring is very common. Around 80% of people aged 11-30 will have acne, and 16% of that population will have persistent scarring. While some people are fortunate enough to have blemishes that don’t leave a mark, others are left with visual reminders of their past breakouts.

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Why Do Acne Scars Occur?

Acne scars can take a deep, emotional toll on the people who get them, but there isn’t much a person can do to prevent scarring in some cases. Genetics play a significant role in whether or not we scar in general, and this issue can get worse as our skin loses collagen when we age.

Most forms of acne are treated as inflammatory conditions, meaning scar development has a lot to do with the duration and extent of the irritation. While scarring can be a complication of acne, delaying acne treatment can raise the risk of scarring and result in poor wound healing.

Acne treatments like Nava MD can add more vitamin D to our skin, which helps with collagen growth. Some topicals can even help with inflammatory and cystic (under the surface) acne.

How to Prevent, Improve, or Remove Acne Scars

Although some forms of acne are more complicated than others, there are a few things you can do to prevent acne scars from appearing or improve/remove acne scars when they show up.

Acne Scar Prevention Best Practices

A healthy diet, a good skin-care routine, and an appropriate treatment regimen can reduce skin inflammation and lessen scars. However, if you suffer from chronic acne and over-the-counter treatment doesn’t work, speak to a dermatologist for a medicine-based skin-care regime.

If you have mild acne, over-the-counter creams or facial washes with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help with spot treatment. Topical retinoids like tazarotene, adapalene, and tretinoin are proven to reduce the appearance of acne scars and possibly prevent them entirely.

While dark spots are likely to fade over time, products that contain AHAs and hydroquinone acids are effective toners that accelerate skin healing. Natural remedies like coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice may also work if your scars aren’t deep or protruding.

Most mild breakouts are even easier to solve. If you have a habit of touching or picking your acne, stop immediately. These habits can irritate your skin and increase inflammation.

Acne Scar Removal Procedures

While our acne scar prevention best practices can help prevent new scarring, they may not help with keloids, ice-pick scars, and rolling scars. For these scars, you may need a procedure.

We recommend getting the following dermatological procedures for scarring:

  • Microdermabrasion: A treatment that uses a handheld device to remove surface skin. While microdermabrasion requires multiple sessions, there’s no downtime.
  • Dermabrasion: A treatment that’s similar to microdermabrasion, except it’s more intense and removes more in-depth scarring. It can take three weeks to heal fully.
  • Laser: Your dermatologist can use a laser resurfacing treatment to lighten redness, contour your skin, and remove its outer layer. Healing can take 3 to 10 days.
  • Chemical Peel: Dermatologists will add a chemical solution to your skin that removes its outer layer. You’ll experience peeling and redness for up to 7 days after the procedure.
  • Microneedling: Also known as collagen induction therapy, microneedling involves pricking the skin repeatedly to stimulate collagen growth, causing redness.

You can also add collagen fillers or have punch excision surgery, but they’re more expensive and intense than other removal procedures. Only consider these options if nothing else works.

Improving Acne Scars Takes Time

Some acne scars are more stubborn than others, but some over-the-counter remedies and cosmetic procedures might help. Keep in mind that dermatological procedures may not completely restore your skin, so set your expectations before you undergo treatment.