How to deal with acne scars

Acne affects people of all ages, not just teenagers. It can be devastating for many people and not only that, but scars from acne can be hard to shift if at all.

Adult acne can come about for various reasons including hormonal changes, exposure to environmental pollution, stress and having a poor diet.

Patients suffering from acne are right to be concerned about scars post breakout. We’re approached by many patients looking to minimise acne scarring and have put together some information to help anyone with similar concerns.

Scar factor

The following factors will affect how someone scars after an acne breakout:

  • Scars are more likely to appear with cyst and nodules type acne
  • If you develop acne at an early age, it may leave your skin with a reduced ability to regenerate itself
  • Individual tendency to scar

Types of scars

Scars come about when the skin tissue is damaged. When this happens, the skin will naturally start to heal itself by producing collagen and elastin to help replace the damaged skin structures.

There are different types of scars which relate to how much collagen is produced during the healing process:

  • Depressed/pitted scars – too little collagen
  • Raised scars – too much collagen
  • Discoloured scars – post inflammatory pigmentation due to melanin over production


We see better results the sooner the patient seeks advice and treatment following a breakout. It also allows us to protect more of the surrounding skin tissues.

Not only this but when we are young, cells responsible for producing collagen are more efficient. As we age, this decreases and our skin loses collagen content which can make scars more pronounced.

Treatment for acne scarring involves stimulating skin cell renewal. The most popular and effective procedures which practitioners recommend are moderate to deep chemical peels and micro-needling.

Mild scarring – microdermabrasion and chemical facial peels

If you have mild scarring issues, you may be a suitable patient for both a microdermabrasion and light skin peel. These treatments combined can deliver great results and require very little downtime.

A microdermabrasion treatment will polish and exfoliate the skin’s surface, improving smoothness and tone of the area being treated. It will get rid of any dead skin cells and allow for better penetration of a chemical facial peel.

A chemical facial peel such as the Epionce Lite Refresh (malic and salicylic acid) or the Obagi Blue Peel Radiance (salicylic, glycolic and lactic acid) will stimulate deeper layers of the epidermis to encourage cell regeneration.

Deeper scarring - TCA facial peel and Dermaroller

Patients suffering with severe acne scarring will be referred to see a dermatologist or Doctor for a thorough medical assessment. Both TCA facial peels and the Dermaroller micro-needling treatment work well on deep scars and require more recovery downtime.

TCA is a trichloroacetic acid and it is used in a deep medical skin peel which can only be undertaken by a Doctor or nurse. This peel is able to effectively remove several layers of damaged skin. When applied, it causes the top layers of skin cells to dry up and peel off over a period of 7 days.

Because of its much deeper penetration, you can expect more downtime. Initially the skin will be red and may be sore and tender. For the first two days, the face will feel very dry and tight and then around the third day, the skin will start to flake away unveiling new, healed skin. It is good to plan your treatments well in advance as you may require a day or two off work and want to avoid any social events.

Another effective treatment is Dermaroller. This is definitely one of the best and well known treatments on the market for acne scarring. The Dermaroller uses tiny needles to create micro injuries on the skin.

Prior to the treatment, the skin will be treated with an anaesthetic cream to lessen any discomfort. Immediately after the treatment, the affected area will be feel hot and more sensitive than usual. Over the next couple of days, the skin will be red and flaky until it has healed. Over time, scars should appear less prominent than pre treatment.

With both procedures, it’s essential that for the first week patients use gentle skincare products and a SPF 50 whenever out and about.


Every patient has to remember that treating acne scarring is a very individual process and may take a while to correct especially when using a combination of treatments.

In terms of results, the treatments we’ve recommended will help make scars less prominent and noticeable.

 By Gosia Liszewska, Transform Aesthetician

 More information

Find out more about facial peels

Find out more about microdermabrasion

Find out more about Dermaroller treatment