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Acne Scars Laser Treatments | Illinois Dermatology Institute

Acne scars may develop in the skin after the actual acne lesions disappear. Scarring is more common with the more severe types of acne but may accompany any type, especially if the patient has picked at or squeezed the pimples.

Typical acne scars appear as indentations in the skin of variable depth that do not improve substantially over time. This should be distinguished from skin discoloration in the areas of former pimples that do improve over weeks to months.

Depressed acne scars can be shallow or deep, very narrow (“Ice pick”) or wide (“Dish type”), Rolled type, or in between (“Boxcar type”). They can be limited to the skin or also involve subcutaneous fat.

Thickened acne scars can be Hypertrophic (the scar’s surface is limited to the size of the original lesion) or Keloidal (Larger than the original lesion). The latter is more common on the chest and back.

Acne Scars Treatments

We treat acne scars only when the inflammatory lesions (Papules, Pustules, Nodules, Cysts, etc.) have completely subsided. Also, the surrounding inflammation (Redness) has to have completely subsided. The reason is that, even when the lesions are completely flat, the persistent surrounding inflammation (redness) will continue tissue destruction with consequent enlargement of the scars.

To expedite the elimination of any persistent inflammation, we often use Intense Pulsed Light treatments with the Aurora or the Isolaz.

Depressed Scars

  1. Moderately deep scars: We generally prefer the Smoothbeam Laser because there is no downtime (peeling and scabs), and it can be done on all skin types, including African American
  2. For deep scars that do not involve the subcutis, we use:
  • Ablative Laser Resurfacing can be used instead of or in addition to punch excision. We often use the two together for best results.
  • Pixel CO2 Fractional Laser Resurfacing: FRACTIONATED LASER RESURFACING can deliver excellent results by creating precise, microscopic vertical burns in the Epidermis and Dermis. As these burns heal, they create bridges over the scars.


Schedule A Consultation to learn more about cosmetic dermatology or how to determine the right laser treatment for you.

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