Acne is a troublesome skin condition that often leads to scars. Acne can be embarrassing and frustrating to clear up successfully. And it can be very difficult to get rid or remove acne scars.
All scars result from some type of wound or injury and are part of our skin’s natural healing process. Surface wounds to the outermost layer of skin (the epidermis) usually heal without scarring. However, when the dermis (the innermost layer of skin) is damaged, scars form.
Acne scarring is caused by inflammation. The inflammation occurs when a pore fills up with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. The pore swells up and infected material can leak out into the dermis, destroying healthy tissue. The greater the inflammation on the skin, the more likely you are to develop scars. To attempt to fix the damage to the dermis, the skin makes new collagen, the protein that makes our skin strong and flexible. But it does not always do a perfect job. Sometimes our bodies produce too much collagen which results in raised scars called hypertrophic, or keloid, scars.
If acne inflammation changes your collagen structure, pock marks and other unattractive scars can develop. You may develop dark and lightly pigmented areas as well.
Today, there is a method available to help fade these acne scars!
How does microdermabrasion acne scars work?
Microdermabrasion is a skin-resurfacing technique that removes the very top layer of skin. Not only does it firm and improve the appearance of skin marred by acne scars and increase collagen production, it is also beneficial for aging skin and is often used to treat wrinkles and age spots. The treatment results in a vibrant, healthy appearance and complexion.
The microdermabrasion acne scars method is very versatile and can be used on all types of skin. It has been available in the US since 1990. According to the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, microdermabrasion was one of the top five most popular minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures performed in 2010. Popular with men and women, more than 825,000 procedures were performed last year.
The microdermabrasion acne scars method is a sophisticated method of exfoliating your skin. It uses a high-speed device (like a sand blaster) that sprays tiny aluminum oxide crystals across your face to blast off dead skin cells. Those dead cells are then suctioned off along with the leftover crystals. The procedure typically takes less than one hour and requires little recovery time. It is great for mild acne, whiteheads and blackheads.
Don’t confuse microdermabrasion with “dermabrasion” which is traumatic to the skin, requires anesthesia and has a long healing period. If you have serious acne scarring however, dermabrasion may be your best solution but is significantly more expensive.
Who can have this treatment?
Microdermabrasion acne scars can be performed on all skin colors and types. This is a plus because many other cosmetic skin procedures are not recommended for dark and black skin, such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing.
The best candidates are healthy, have good skin tone and are realistic about what to expect. If you have sensitive skin that reacts to chemicals or oily, acne-prone skin, microdermabrasion is ideal.
You may not be a good candidate it you have:
- Keloid or raised, red scars
- Undiagnosed skin lesions
- Recent herpes outbreaks
- Active acne
- Uncontrolled diabetes or autoimmune system disorders
How many microdermabrasion acne scars treatments will I need?
To reach your goal of reducing your acne scars, you should plan to have treatments on a regular schedule. You should be able to feel the difference in your skin right away but may need a few treatments before you are able to see results. Expect to undergo six to eight treatments spaced about two weeks apart followed by maintenance treatments every month or two.
Is microdermabrasion acne scars safe?
Yes, microdermabrasion is one of the safest skin-rejuvenation procedures. However, as with every medical procedure, there can be unexpected risks or complications. While these are uncommon, you may experience infection, hyperpigmentation, or tiny round red spots that indicate bleeding beneath the skin.
Reduce your chance of complications by choosing a qualified professional to perform your microdermabrasion. Physicians and licensed cosmeticians with specialized training in microdermabrasion can perform the treatment. If you choose to have your procedure done at a spa or salon, make sure the person doing the procedure is properly licensed.
Is it painful and are there any side effects?
Microdermabrasion for acne scars is not painful. Patients say it feels like mild scratching or tingling of the skin or sometimes like mild sunburn. You may have some discomfort under the eyes because they tissue there is more sensitive.
Redness should disappear in a few hours. You should not expose your skin to direct sunlight until is has a chance to heal (about one week). Always apply a good sunscreen and avoid using chemicals on your skin, such as any product with alpha hydroxy acid or glycolic acid in it.
A rare side effect of microdermabrasion acne scars is the feeling that your skin is burning if you do an activity that raises your blood pressure, such as running, immediately following your treatment.
You should feel the difference in your skin right after treatment. It will feel smooth and firm. Most patients are thrilled with the results and see a steady fading of their acne scars over time.
Microdermabrasion acne scar removal costs
Microdermabrasion acne scars treatment sessions cost about $75 to $300 per visit. This depends on where you live and who is doing the procedure. At an average cost of $120 per session, a complete treatment program will cost about $1,600.
As you may expect, doctors will usually charge higher prices than licensed cosmeticians. You may be able to purchase a discounted pack of sessions at a spa or salon to cut down on the cost of the procedure. Also, there are different brands of machines available. Some are safer and more effective than others.
Cosmetic procedures such as microdermabrasion acne scars are not covered by most health insurance carriers.
There are also some home microdermabrasion kits for acne scars available. They may be less expensive ($15 to $200) but you will not get the same results by treating yourself as your would having the treatment done by a professional. The crystal scrubs in these home kits are not the same quality as the crystals used by doctors and cosmeticians. Be sure to follow the directions carefully if you decide to do it yourself.