The worst part about acne isn’t getting a front-and-center pimple right before a job interview or first date (okay, that’s pretty bad), but the lasting scars zits leave behind. So what’s a breakout-prone person to do? We asked NYC dermatologist and founder of the Clear Clinic, Dr. Eric Schweiger for the lowdown on how to get rid of acne scars.
Types of Acne Scarring
The first thing you need to know is that not all acne scars are created equal. According to Dr. Schweiger, “There are three different categories of acne scars: Atrophic (meaning there is a loss of skin tissue), hypertrophic (which is a raised, mass of skin) and post-inflammatory pigmentation (red or brown marks left behind after acne lesions disappear).” Each type requires a different treatment plan.
How to Get Rid of Acne Scars that Are Pitted or Raised
“Atrophic and hypertropic scars require in-office laser resurfacing treatments with the fractional CO2 laser,” Dr. Schweiger explains. Fraxel Re:pair, MiXto, TotalFX and Matrix CO2 are all types of fractional CO2 lasers. This type of laser resurfacing treatment can be painful and requires about four days of downtime, but many patients see significant results in just one treatment. If lasers aren’t appropriate for your skin type or tone, “Derma fillers can also help treat atrophic scars,” Dr. Schweiger adds.
Can’t deal with a sore, red face for days? “I have developed a new way to use the CO2 laser to treat acne scars with improved results and decreased downtime,” Dr. Schweiger says. “The technique is called the F.A.S.T. procedure (Focal Acne Scar Treatment) and it utilizes increased fractional CO2 energy to treat focal areas of acne scarring on the face, rather than treating the entire face with medium levels of energy, which is the typical way acne scars are addressed.”
How to Get Rid of Dark Marks
Clearing up red or brown spots is a bit easier. “The KTP laser can help treat post inflammatory pigmentation, as can chemical peels,” Dr. Schweiger says. There’s no downtime with the KTP laser, which means you can cover up any redness with a BB cream and go back to your everyday activities. Chemical peels vary in strength, and the downtime varies, too — anywhere from zero to a few days. Over-the-counter creams with retinol or hydroquinone can also help improve pigmentation issues over time.
Read more: Tea Tree Oil for Acne: Does It Work?