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Can Acne Scars Be Removed?

Different Types of Acne

Scars from acne can seem like double punishment — first you had to deal with the pimples, now you have marks as a reminder.

What's your go-to source for information about acne?

It helps to understand the different kinds of acne so you can figure out what to do about different types of scarring: Acne lesions or pimples happen when the hair follicles (or "pores") on the skin become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. A plugged follicle is the perfect place for bacteria to grow and create the red bumps and pus-filled red bumps known as pimples.

Acne comes in different forms:

Most serious scarring is caused by the more severe forms of acne, with nodules more likely to leave permanent scars than other types of acne.

The best approach is to get treatment for acne soon after it appears to prevent further severe acne and more scarring. If you have nodules, see your doctor or dermatologist for treatment.

Treating Acne Scars

Most of the time, those reddish or brownish acne marks that are left behind after a pimple eventually fade with no need for treatment. Picking or squeezing acne can increase the risk for scarring, though.

Acne scars take two forms:

  1. scars with a gradual dip or depression (sometimes called "rolling" scars)
  2. scars that are deep and narrow

A person's acne needs to be under control before scars can be treated.

Mild vs. Severe Scarring

Treatments depend on how severe the scars are. In some cases, a doctor or dermatologist may suggest a chemical peel or microdermabrasion to help improve the appearance of scarred areas. These milder treatments can be done right in the office.

If you have serious scarring from previous bouts with acne, there are several things you can do:

For "rolling" scars, doctors sometimes inject material under the scar to raise it to the level of normal skin. Finally, in some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove deeply indented scars.

One thing you shouldn't do to deal with acne scars is load up your face with masks or fancy lotions — these won't help and may irritate your skin further, making the scars red and even more noticeable.

If you have a red or brownish mark on your face that you got from a bad zit, it should eventually fade. However, it may take 12 months or longer. Talk to your doctor if you're upset about acne marks; he or she may have advice on what you can do.

Reviewed by: Patrice Hyde, MD
Date reviewed: March 2013

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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