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Are acne scars permanent?

Acne scars, by nature and name, sound permanent. We all know what they look like – dimpled pitfalls in skin that thought it had won its battle with dreaded acne. How could this irregular skin texture not be permanent, right? When we think of the word ‘scars’ we think of sores that didn’t heal properly that we are now, unfortunately, left with to bare for the rest of our lives. Acne scars aren’t permanent, however, when they are treated by professional hands. Who would’ve thought that something previously permanent could now be, well, not permanent!


How do acne scars form?

Dimpled acne scarring, also known as boxcar scars or rolling scars, appear as concave bumps in the skin. Boxcar acne scars occur when an inflammatory breakout damages the collagen in the skin, lessening the tissue’s strength. The skin over this area loses its support, causing it to fall in itself and create a dimpled and depressed area. Rolling scars, which appear to seem like a continuous wave of skin depressions across otherwise healthy skin, makes the skin look uneven. Rather than self-contained depressions like boxcar scars, rolling acne scars make whole areas of the skin appear craggy. These occur when the skin tries to protect itself, forming another band of tissue directly beneath the surface. This band pulls on the top layer of skin, binding it to deeper layers to keep it safe. This, however, forms a rolling appearance.


Does hyperpigmentation count as acne scars?

Interestingly, a lot of people who have suffered with aggressive acne (and even just mild spots and blemishes) have noticed that their skin tone changes after a breakout. Where some more feisty spots have manifested, a circle of different toned pigmentation sometimes occurs. This is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and the process isn’t entirely different to sun damage. It’s not 100% understood, but it’s thought that hyperpigmentation occurs after acne because the skin is rushing to protect itself, producing excess melanin that isn’t always the matching colour.


How do you treat dimpled acne scars?

Dimpled acne scars, whether boxcar scars or rolling scars, are treated with similar procedures depending on their severity. Laser treatments for acne scars use ablative lasers to resurface the skin and stimulate the fresh production of skin cells and collagen. We use the Pixel laser which creates lots of microscopic perforations while leaving the rest of the skin tissue intact, allowing for rapid healing and effective results.


Microneedling using the Dermapen is also a popular treatment for both acne hyperpigmentation and acne scars. Working in similar way to laser resurfacing, though not as powerfully, this treatment pierces the skin with tiny needles. These piercings create needle columns that close almost as immediately as they’re opened, but the mini-trauma caused prompts fresh collagen production and the shedding of the old, minutely damaged skin cells.


Chemical peels for acne scars are a third and very effective treatment for acne scarring, though they are admittedly far better suited to hyperpigmentation and minor scars. A topical solution of acids and chemical is applied to cleansed skin, creating a controlled wounding of the superficial skin cells. This prompts the skin into drying out and shedding these damaged and dying skin cells, speeding up the replacement process by stimulating the growth of fresh cells. Over time and a course of peels, these blemishes are evened out and resurfaced with fresh, glowing, healthy cells and a more even skin tone.


At Skin Doctor clinics in York and Leeds, acne scars don’t have to be permanent anymore. At your personal consultation, we’ll perform a full skin assessment and advise you on the best treatments for your skin. Enquire online today!