Acne scars are a frustrating side effect of dealing with acne. In the absence of treatment, they will only fade to a certain extent over time. However, now there are scientifically proven methods you can use to make the scars disappear permanently and minimize the risk of additional hyperpigmentation (scar darkening).
Below are reviews of the most effective scar removal products and procedures uncovered through extensive research. The length of time, cost and amount of effort each method will take to achieve results varies, and these factors have been taken into consideration when ranking these treatments. The treatments are listed from most effective to least.
#1 Over-the-Counter and Prescription Creams, Ointments or Gels
Prescription creams and over-the-counter topical products are one of the most popular ways people treat acne scars and blemishes left behind by cuts, wounds and other skin injuries. This group of products include steroid-based ointments prescribed by doctors, antihistamine creams and herbal formulations. Be aware, though, that some of these products (steroid based) can cause itching or skin to become very sensitive. It’s essential that you speak to your doctor or dermatologist to ensure the prescription scar removal cream you choose is safe to use.
One of the most popular topical remedies on the market is scar cream. It’s clinically proven to be effective at treating all types of scars including those caused by burns, surgery, acne and other trauma. cream is formulated with proteins, vitamins and other all-natural skin-supporting substances that help increase cell turnover rate, fill in scars with collagen and reduce hyperpigmentation by slowing down the production of melanocytes.
A strict regimen that includes the daily use of for 5 to 6 months can remove most noticeable long-standing scars, improve skin tone, eliminate pimples, rapidly fade dark spots and leave the face with a healthy fresh glow. It works for people of all skin tones—from dark to light—and skin types including sensitive. However, how quickly the product works depends on several factors such as you age, sex, genes and ethnicity.
It costs $120 for a six month treatment, but it is still an affordable remedy that outdoes other treatments that cost more
#2 Laser Scar Removal
Laser scar removal can be an effective way to deal with acne scarring and other types of blemishes. These procedures fall into two categories: ablative and non-ablative.
In ablative procedures, the laser is turned to a high level and used to burn away the skin’s top layer. In addition to removing the scar tissue, this technique forces the skin cells to turn over and produce new skin and collagen. This helps further minimize acne scars.
In non-ablative techniques, the laser is turned to a lower level. It doesn’t damage the epidermis as much as ablative techniques do, but it still forces the dermis to make the necessary changes. However, the results are not as good.
These laser treatments can also reduce acne production by heating the oil glands, which helps reduce oil production. At the same time, the heat also forces the dermis to tighten, which makes the skin look smoother.
It typically takes three to five treatments to see results, and the average cost according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons was $2,200 in 2011. How much you actually pay for laser skin resurfacing depends on your location and doctor.
#3 Scar Removal Surgery
Most topical products and laser surgery only treat mild scarring. If you have deep indented scars, then you may opt for surgery. There are a couple of different options in this category.
One way to treat deep acne scars is to graft skin from a donor site on the body. The site can be anywhere, but is most often places that are easily hidden by clothing. The procedure is fairly safe, though this depends on the patient’s risk factors (e.g. diabetes). While recovery time is typically only a few days, the skin may take longer to fully heal, and you’ll be restricted in what you can do while it does.
Another surgical option is called subcision (also known as punch excision). This procedure helps erase deep scars by stimulating your body to produce collagen to fill in the pockets. It consists of using either a needle-studded roller or a miniature scalpel to puncture the skin and break up the fibers underneath. The body begins producing collagen to repair the damage, leading to smoother skin.
Subcision is safe for all skin types and tones and can be combined with other types of dermatological treatments such as scar revision, laser surgery and dermaroller. Multiple sessions are required, and it can take as long as 9 months to see results. The cost is about $300 to $900 per session.
For overgrown scars such as hypertrophic and keloid, a doctor may prescribe steroid injections to reduce them. It’s essential that you discuss the possible side effects of the treatment before agreeing to it.
Dermabrasion is another treatment that fixes acne scars by stimulating collagen and elastin production. In this procedure, anaesthesia is injected into the skin and then frozen in place. A tool called a burr or fraise resembling a wire brush (sometimes a wheel with diamonds on it) is used to strip the top lay of skin. You can expect a little bit of pain once the medication wears off and the area may bleed. However, the cells under the skin will begin repairing the damage by ramping up collage and elastin production.
It can take anywhere from 6 to 9 days for the skin to grow back, and it may appear red or pink. This discoloration goes away in 6 to 13 weeks. The cost varies depending on your location and the medical professional who performs the dermabrasion.
#5 Tissue Fillers
Dermal fillers have long been used to make sagging skin look fuller, and it also works in a similar fashion to correct indented acne scars. Collagen, body fat or another safe substance may be injected into the scars to stretch the skin and make the area appear smooth. This treatment works best for light scars.
While effective, the results only last a short period of time, anywhere from 3 months to a year. If the dermatologist uses the patient’s body fat (removed via liposuction), the results will last about 3 to 6 months. Patients will have to continue getting treatments for as long as they want the effect.
Some patients have reported side effects such as burning and stinging at the injection site. These treatments cost about $550 to $850 per session.
#6 Home Remedies
Scars rarely disappear completely with home remedies. Unlike above options, there is no medical evidence supporting claims that home remedies make scars go away completely.
However, there are a couple of scar removal home remedies that have some anecdotal evidence of being able to slightly decrease the size of scars and change how they look. These home remedies are a safe way to minimize the look of scars, but these treatments can take a long time and consistent effort before they start producing results. How much you’re able to minimize acne scars is not known.
- Ice Cubes
The simplest remedy for newly formed acne scars is to ice the affected area. The coldness of the ice will reduce inflammation and redness, which can minimize the appearance of scars. Simply wrap an ice cube in washcloth and rub it against the area for 10 to 15 minutes each day. You may want to do it twice a day if your scars are fairly old. Alternatively, you can brew and freeze green tea instead of using plain water. Green tea also calms inflammation and may help reduce acne.
- Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a soothing gel-like substance that has been used to heal a variety of skin disorders including sunburns and inflammation. It moisturizes the skin and encourages damaged tissues to regenerate. Used daily on the face, it can make acne scars fade quicker.
It’s best to use fresh Aloe Vera directly from the leaf, which can be found in many natural food stores. However, over-the-counter Aloe Vera products will work also. Be certain get ones that have the least amount of added chemicals. Apply the gel directly to the scars, let it set for 30 minutes and then rinse off. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil—which also promotes healthy skin—to the gel to boost the fading process.
- Avoid Direct Sun Exposure
Avoiding sunlight is essential if you want to fade acne scars. The ultraviolet light in the sun’s rays impedes the healing process and causes the scars to darken. Additionally, the new skin that grows in to replace the damaged skin is more vulnerable to being discoloured and damaged by these rays. Therefore, you should wear sunscreen and/or cover yourself whenever you go outside for long periods of time.
- Rubbing Olive Oil
Olive Oil helps to lighten the pigmentation caused by acne scars. It is essentially a natural way of camouflaging and reducing appearance of acne scars. Olive oil has excellent skin-moisturizing ability. This helps to soften the hardened surface of acne scars. This assists the skin’s inherent healing process.
- Natural Face Mask of Sandalwood Paste
You can prepare a facial mask of sandalwood powder mixed with some rosewater. Allow the paste to dry-out which usually takes about an hour. This helps to smoothen the unevenness of skin caused by acne scars. Use this as a facial mask, twice a week.
- Lemon Juice
Like olive oil, lemon juice too helps to fight pigmentation or spotting caused by acne scars. Lemon juice contains natural vitamins that help to lighten the skin tone.
- Baking Soda
Baking soda is an effective skin cleanser. It is effective for restricting the progression of acne scars/acne. Mix the smallest pinch of baking soda in water to make a thick paste. Apply this on the acne scars only. Leave it on for around 10 minutes and then, repeatedly rinse your skin.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is actually recommended for various types of skin problems, including acne and acne scars. It helps to impair the progression of acne scars. You merely need to moisten some cotton with apple cider vinegar and dab it on the acne scars. Wait for about 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse your face. This can be done daily to prevent progression of an active acne condition too.
- Lavender Oil
The most common type of acne-causing bacteria is referred to as P acne. Lavender Oil is known to deter the multiplication of this bacterial strain. It also reduces the itchiness associated with dry, acne scar-affected skin. It helps to decongest the clogged skin pores around the acne scars, preventing the scars from widening. Just dab cotton dipped in Lavender Oil over the acne scars before going to bed.
- Natural Face Mask of Oatmeal & Yogurt
You can prepare a face mask with one tablespoon of oatmeal added to an equal amount of sour cream and yogurt. Add a few drops of honey and lemon juice to this mixture. Keep this face mask on for about ten minutes and then rinse it.
- Dietary Recommendations
Please note that an acne scar diet cannot comprehensively heal the scars. However, this can prevent the onset of the problem, slow the progression of scarring and expedite the recovery. Acne scar diet tips include:
- Drink more water to flush out the inflammatory toxins from the bloodstream.
- Eat high-bran cereals and green beans for their high Silica content. Silica fastens the skin’s healing process.
- Consume more of high Vitamin C foods like guavas and oranges.
- Regularly eat high-Zinc foods like poultry, seafood and potatoes. Zinc is critical for the skin’s ability to recover from acne scars.
- Cumin Tea is recommended to recover from inflammatory skin conditions like Eczema. This underlines its anti-inflammatory and skin-healing properties, making it ideal for acne scar sufferers too.
Restrict your intake of acne-inducing/skin-irritating foods like chocolates, milk and greasy foods.
Take up Treatment Early:
The longer the scars are left untreated the more obstinate the get so it is better to start treating acne scars as early as possible.
You can choose from various types of cosmetic and skin-treatment procedures for getting rid of acne scars. However, many of these treatments are rather expensive. Some are associated with side-effects too and many popular acne scar treatments solve the problem temporarily. This is why many people opt for safer natural remedies for getting rid of acne scars.
Insurance Coverage for Scar Removal Costs
Typically, medical insurance policies do not cover treatments that have not been deemed medically necessary. This means, you will likely have to pay for most—if not all—of these treatments out of your own pocket. It’s important to consult with your insurance company to determine what it will and will not cover. You should also discuss your treatment options with a licensed and trained dermatologist.