by Elonah B. February 05, 2019

Ask An Expert: Can Laser Treatment Really Lighten Acne Scars?

If acne scars are a constant reminder of your past breakouts or unhappy teen years, you may want to investigate skin-smoothing procedures to help lessen their appearance.

"Laser treatments for acne scars" is one of the most-searched terms on the internet in regard to beauty—and it makes sense, as acne scars are common. If you have acne scars, however, you don't need to feel pressure to treat them at all. Your face is your own, and it's unique and beautiful regardless of your past issues with breakouts. Some can be helped through topical skincare, like exfoliation and scar-fading spot treatments.

"Acne scarring can be difficult to completely cure, takes multiple treatments, and is costly."

But atrophic scarring, the indented scars that form below the upper layer of skin tissue as a result of severe acne, is harder to treat since it prevents the skin from being able to regenerate tissue correctly, leaving behind uneven texture. That's where lasers come in. While we've had laser facials for brightening, tightening, and boosting collagen, we weren't sure of the specifics when it came to lasers to treat acne scars. So we asked one of our most trusted sources, Marnie Nussbaum, MD, a top dermatologist in NYC.

"Regarding textural change," Nussbaum notes, "the Fractionated Laser Resurfacing using the 1550 wavelength is by far the most effective at evening out skin concavities. It creates micro-columns of destruction while surrounding intact areas of skin in order to induce neocollagenesis (form new skin) and heal epidermal and dermal injury." She continues, "The Fractionated Laser Resurfacing using the 1927 wavelength is great to reduce brown pigmentation," Nussbaum says.

For redness, Nussbaum suggests using the VBeam laser, as it targets any redness from increased vascularity. IPL laser can also help reduce both pink and brown pigmentation. Lastly, radio-frequency micro-needling with blue-light technology is one of her favorite treatments.


"It has been great at creating microperforations in the skin, which allow for easy penetration of peptides or growth factors to induce healing. It also emits radio frequency while penetrating your skin to tighten your pores and the surrounding skin," Nussbaum says. "The added blue-light technology can reduce the acne-inducing bacteria in the skin."

"The benefits are smoothing out textural deformities and evening out skin tone to create a more unified canvas and clear complexion," says Nussbaum. "Acne scarring can severely affect self-esteem and confidence. Therefore, if there is room for improvement, it is usually worth the investment," she notes. "However, acne scarring can be difficult to completely cure, takes multiple treatments, and is costly. It is extremely important to go to a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in acne scarring in order to get the best results."

Elonah B.
Elonah B.

Elonah is a creative type from the Philippines, writing all sorts of stuff from fashion tips, beauty how-to's to lifestyle bits. If not writing, she loves to take photos, style people and drink coffee on the side.


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