What is worse than acne? The discoloration and scars they leave behind. Acne is annoying enough, but the discoloration and scars left behind are often worse.

It affects our confidence, well-being, and quality of life. It is important to understand that there is a difference between discoloration and scars. The discoloration is a result of inflammation which revs up pigment production (also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and creates tiny blood vessels. It may appear as pink or dark marks that are smooth and flat, signifying that there is no permanent damage to the skin. There isn’t much you can do to treat the discoloration. Prevention is the key. The most important aspect of this is to stop the acne, which is easier said than done. Cortisone creams are the only other effective preventive measure, but this is hard on your skin (it weakens it long term), so it’s not practical.

Acne scars are formed when there is damage to the skin which leads to abnormal collagen production. They usually leave a depression in the skin, but can also appear raised and bumpy. There are different categories of scars which include:

  • Ice-pick scars – Look like a large scooped out pore.
  • Boxcar scars – Rectangular depressions with steep defined edges.
  • Rolling scars – Broad depressions that have rounded sloping edges.
  • Hypertrophic scar – Raised and pigmented
  • Keloid scar – Raised, thick, dense and rubbery

The discoloration will fade on its own over time, but it tends to be more severe and longer-lasting for people with medium to dark complexions. It can take months to years to fade. Acne scars are difficult to treat, and treatment outcome varies depending on the type of scar. Treatment options include dermal fillers, laser skin resurfacing, and microneedling.


Dermal Fillers

Hyaluronic acid-based filler can be used to “fill” certain types of acne scars, such as those that have resulted in a depressed appearance of the skin. Dermal fillers are temporary and repeat treatments every 6-12 months will be necessary to maintain results. A topical numbing cream is applied before the treatment which makes it comfortable. There is no downtime, which makes this treatment a great choice for those looking for improvement without the need to take time away from their busy life.


Microneedling is the insertion of very fine short needles into the skin from 0.5 to 2.5 millimeters to create new collagen. This can improve acne scars, texture, and pore size. Microneedling must be done in a series of treatments to see the best results. A topical numbing cream is applied before treatment which makes the treatment comfortable. Six or more treatments spaced one month apart are recommended. Microneedling involves some downtime ranging from 3-5 days. During this time the skin is pink and tender and requires special care. The great thing about Microneedling is that it can be used on all skin types.

Laser Skin Resurfacing (Pixel)

Pixel is a skin resurfacing laser. Skin resurfacing involves the ablation (removal of old skin cells) to encourage new collagen and replace old skin cells with new healthy skin. This improves acne scars, texture, and pore size. The Pixel treatment needs to be done in a series of treatments for the best recommended results. A topical numbing cream is applied before treatment which makes the treatment more comfortable, and it is recommended to have a least six treatments spaced one month apart. Pixel has some downtime ranging from 3-5 days. During the first day or two, the skin will be red and sore and feel like a sunburn. However, it is noted that Pixel shouldn’t be used on all skin types, we treat lighter skin colors safely with Pixel. Darker skin colors require a test patch to ensure Pixel is the best choice.

Acne scars are not your friend, so it’s important to see what you can do to reduce their appearance and improve your confidence and feel great about yourself.

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