Even if acne scars are relatively minor, many people want to smooth them out if possible. Thankfully, there are many options at your disposal. If your acne scars aren't of the ice-pick variety and are fairly superficial, you may be able to use some non-invasive treatments. Here are some scar treatments you may want to try.
1. Shea Butter
While you may have heard of cocoa butter for scarring and cellulite, shea butter may be better for acne scars since it's less likely to clog your skin. Like cocoa butter, shea butter is a rich, fatty ingredient that is derived from a tree nut. It's fully of saturated fats, oils, vitamin A and vitamin E--all of which are great for moisturizing and healing skin.
One study found that components in shea fat are great at fighting inflammation. This anti-inflammatory property is important since repeat acne infections could cause your skin to become inflamed and your scarring to look worse. Shea butter is also great because you can get it over the counter just about anywhere. However, you may want to ask your dermatologist for some brand recommendations.
You may have been on a retin-A--a form of vitamin A--in the past without much luck; however, Isotretinoin (also known as Accutane) is a much stronger retin-A that is great for scarring and cystic acne. Isotretinoin causes your skin cells to rapidly turn over to unveil new skin. Isotretinoin also improves collagen, a protein that affects your skin's elasticity, plumpness, and structure.
Keep in mind, however, that if you are trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant, you will have to wait on this treatment. Because Isotretinoin causes rapid skin cell turnover, it is incredibly dangerous for fetal development. If it is safe for your to pursue this treatment, your dermatologist will help you enroll in the FDA iPledge program. This program requires women to take contraceptive measures and urine tests before the Isotretinoin is dispensed to them, just to make sure that the medicine is helping your skin and not hurting an unborn child.
While dermabrasion does use abrasive in-office devices, it is much less invasive than other procedures. During this scar treatment, your dermatologist will use either salt crystals, a wire brush, or a diamond wheel to buff and remove the topmost layers of the epidermis. The epidermis has no blood vessels and requires a lower layer of skin (the dermis) for oxygen and nutrients. When the epidermis receives some microtrauma from the dermabrasion, then that will signal the dermis to repair the epidermis and encourage skin cell turnover. Once your skin heals from this procedure, you should see smoothness and reduced scarring.
4. Acid Peels
An acid peel has a very similar approach to dermabrasion: the top layers of scarred skin are stripped down so that new skin can come up and replace it. When you go in for an acid peel, your dermatologist will apply an acidic solution to your skin, which will cause it to become incredibly dry and mildly blistered. The skin will peel over, become flaky, and then slough off over the next few days. While you may experience some soreness at first, there are few complications and the recovery should only take a week or two. And since your scarring is minor, you may be able to do a milder acidic solution, meaning that your recovery will be quicker.
Talk with your dermatologist for more ideas on how to reduce your acne scars.