Acne marks and scars offer somewhat of a double whammy for acne sufferers. After having suffered through the humiliation of a break out, a person has to deal with the aftermath, red or dark-colored marks or worse yet, pitted or raised scars.
These can be just as unsightly and frustrating for the sufferer as the original breakout. Acne scars and marks appear mostly on the face and upper body.
Acne marks are a form of hyper-pigmentation left over after an acne lesion has reached its final stage. They are flat and sit on top of the skin. Acne marks last much longer than acne lesions. A person may find that they last for weeks or months at a time.
Acne scars are very similar to acne marks. Scars are also a form of hyper-pigmentation. The primary difference is that scars develop after much more severe injury has been done to the dermis and the skin’s underlying tissues. Unlike marks, scars do not fade away. They are often permanent unless treated.
Acne scars develop when acne has damaged the collagen and dermis. There are four primary types of acne scars; ice pick, rolling, boxcar and keloids. Fortunately, scars can be treated. Fillers, chemical therapy, laser resurfacing and subcision, are a few ways in which they can be treated.
What Causes Acne Marks and Scars?
Inflammation: Inflammation causes the skin’s underlying tissues to become damaged, which can lead to scarring.
Destruction of the dermis and collagen: When the dermis and collagen are damaged, marks and scars can form.
Collagen build up: When the body produces too much collagen in response to a breakout or cut, the result is a fibrous raised massed, referred to as a keloid or hypotrophic scar.
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Types of Acne Scars
Ice pick acne scars: Ice pick scars are narrow and deep in appearance. They develop after a bout with inflammatory acne. Inflammation causes the tissue to become damaged. When it is, collagen and fibrin is lost. Because there is no collagen or fibrin to support it, the scar tissue sinks down into the skin and the resulting scar looks like a small, deep hole.. Ice pick scars can be treated a myriad of ways with punch grafting and punch excision being two of the most common.
Box Car: Box car acne scars form an indention or depression in the skin. They are round with sharp, steep edges. They are one of the most common types of acne scars. They develop from inflammatory breakouts. These types of breakouts ruin collagen and the tissue wherever they are formed. Boxcar scars are often treated with dermal fillers, laser resurfacing, punch elevation, or excision.
Rolling Car: Rolling car scars are a mixture of depressed and raised tissues. The result is a wavy-like appearance. They look the way that they do because the tension which underlies the site of the scar has broken down. Subcision is the best way to get rid of these types of acne scars.
Keloids: Also known as hypertrophic scars, keloids are raised scars made up of tissue. They are often bulbous in appearance and are typically red, brown, or black in color. They are unsightly and can be quite embarrassing for those who have them. Keloids are difficult to treat. However, there are a number of commonly used treatment methods. They include the use of steroid creams and injections.
Augmentation – This treatment option involves injecting a filler into the depressed scar. Collagen is most often used for this purpose. Augmentation is a temporary solution and it may be necessary to have a particular procedure performed multiple times.
Laser resurfacing – Laser resurfacing uses lasers to get rid of the damaged cells. This helps to stimulate collagen growth. Most people will need at least 2 or 3 treatments to get the results they want.
Chemical therapy – Chemical peels are often used to get rid of old acne scars. Chemicals are used to essentially burn off the skin’s top levels so that the body generates new skin cells. The result is brand new, unblemished skin.
Dermabrasion – Dermabrasion involves the sanding off of the top layer of skin. It helps to eliminates dark spots, scars, and sun damage. Professional dermabrasion will require the use of at the very least, a local anesthetic. It tends to be painful and for a few days the skin will look discolored and a little raw. It may take a month of two before the new skin grows in completely.
Subcision – Subcision – This is form treatment involves separating the subcutaneous tissue from the dermis. This causes a blood pool to form and the pitted scar to level out.
PRP Treatment for Acne & Scars
PRP therapy is a new generation approach to the treatment of acne marks and scars. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy utilizes the body’s blood platelets to heal or treat common occurring conditions and injuries that affect the soft tissues. PRP helps to regenerate and rejuvenate the tissues as well as stimulates wound healing. It is considered groundbreaking because it is a natural approach to care. No foreign substances are used.
PRP is an effective way to treat acne marks and scars because the growth factors found in the blood platelets, utilized in the treatment, not only regenerates tissues, it also helps create new capillaries and blood vessels which improves the vitality and texture of the skin. The therapy’s stimulation of keratinocytes and fibroblasts creates new skin, in place of the scarred and marked skin caused by acne.
PRP therapy has been used in other medical fields but it is new to the field of dermatology. Because of its effectiveness, expect for it to be around for the long haul. Treatments which utilize the body’s own ability to heal itself, such as PRP and the utilization of an individual’s own stem cells are becoming increasingly popular because there are fewer risks, less side effects and almost no chance of the body rejecting the treatments.
Acne marks and scars are treated a number of ways, amongst them, topical solutions, dermabrasion, laser, augmentation, laser resurfacing, chemical therapy and subcision. Augmentation involves the use of a filler. Collagen is often used for this purpose. Augmentation is used for depressed scars.
Laser resurfacing (cost:$1500 to $5000) stimulates collagen grown and helps to get rid of damaged cells. Chemical therapy or peels (cost:$1000 to $7000) burn off the top portion of the skin. This causes the body to create new skin cells.
Dermabrasion (cost:$2000-$4000) sands off the skin’s top layer and is sometimes effective for acne marks and scars. Subcision (cost: $300 to 500) separates the dermis from the subcutaneous tissue. The blood pools and the acne scar levels out. This is appropriate for pitted scars.
PRP therapy is superior to the aforementioned treatments because it’s natural, safe and has few side effects. It is also a low-risk option which won’t cause further scarring or damage, like some of the above alternatives might. At $500 to $1500, it is also comparatively cost effective.
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PRP therapy is performed in a doctor’s office. Because it is not invasive or requires anesthesia, it doesn’t have to be done in a hospital. The procedure itself is quite simple and straightforward. Because the therapy is considered ground breaking, many people are surprised by this fact. To begin, a doctor will draw about 10ccs of the patient’s blood. The blood is placed in a centrifuge machine. The machine spins the blood and separates the blood’s components. The platelets are taken out and injected into the part of the body that is being treated.
The PRP therapy process takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. However, a patient may need to arrive early and may be asked to stick around so that they can be monitored by the doctor.
One of the best things about PRP therapy is that it is painless. The most pain a person will experience is that of the prick of the needle when the blood is drawn and the platelets injected. A doctor may use a freezing shot or numbing cream may be utilized to minimize the pain.
After the procedure has been completed, a person may experience some slight inflammation and a mild amount of pain. Both should subside within 24 hours, though some people may feel some discomfort for a few days. Patients may be instructed to take a Tylenol or prescribed a mild pain reliever.
A person who undergoes PRP therapy should experience few side effects and none that are severe, extremely painful or life threatening. The beauty of PRP is that because it uses the body’s own components, the risk are almost non-existent. There is no chance of allergic reaction or rejection of the platelets.
PRP therapy injections cost between $500 and $1500. The number of injections a person will require depends on the severity of a person’s acne marks and scars. Some people will need fewer injections then others. The doctor performing the procedure will determine how many treatments are needed.
PRP Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- Is PRP therapy a good option for my particular scars?’
- How does PRP therapy work for acne marks and scars? How does it differ from other options?
- How many treatments will I need?
- What type of payment plans do you offer, if any?
- When should I begin to see results?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent acne marks and scarring because it is impossible to avoid breakouts. Sure, there are actions that people can take to keep their face and body acne and blemish free, like keeping their face clean, taking acne medication(s) if prescribed, eating healthy and drinking plenty of water. However, none of those things will completely prevent a breakout from occurring. The best that a person can do when it comes to acne marks and scarring is to try and curtail the severity of the breakout. The less severe the breakout, the less severe the resulting scar or mark will be.
Questions to Ask
- What type of acne scars do I have?
- Can anything be done about my scars?
- What options are available to me?
- What treatment method would give me the fastest results?
- Which treatment would provide me with the best and longest lasting results?
- How can I better control my acne so that I don’t develop as many scars in the future?
- Is there anything I can do differently to avoid or at least limit scarring?