Unfortunately, acne can cause problems long after the acne is gone. Issues that come up after have to do with acne scars. Mild acne does not usually cause scarring but there are other types that do.
If you have redness and bumps for a while after your acne has been successfully treated, that may not be caused by acne scars. Those usually go away after a while - sometimes it can take up to a year. Those problems aren’t permanent and they are not acne scars.
Real acne scars are caused by changes in the skin tissue caused by healing. As the skin heals, fibrous tissue develops because of changes made to the underlying skin tissue because of white blood cells attacking bacteria. When fibrous tissue develops and stays, you will have permanent acne scars.
Acne Scars - Various Types
Ice Pick Scars
These are small pinholes in the skin. It looks like someone was poked over and over with an ice pick. That is how the name is derived. These can be too deep for treatment with dermabrasion or laser therapies.
These are similar to ice pick scars but they are flatter. These are usually shallower than ice pick scars and resurfacing techniques like dermabrasion and laser treatments may help these types of scars.
These types of scars can grow past the area of the original acne. They are also more firm fibrous tissue caused by an over production of collagen. They are pink or red in color. These types are more difficult to treat than the other kinds of scars.
Acne Scars - Therapies
Dermabrasion is done with a high speed brush that removes layers of skin. A local anesthetic is used first as it can be painful. When the skin regenerates, it is usually scar-free. Microdermabrasion is a form of dermabrasion that does not use a brush. Instead, aluminum oxide crystals are combined with a vacuum that causes them to move rapidly and take off layers of skin. It is not as invasive as dermabrasion but because of this, it may not be as effective.
Laser treatments for acne scars can be very effective for some scarring. They work by changing the size and shape of the acne scars. CO2 lasers can remove some of the tissue. Redness can last for several weeks following a laser treatment because lasers work by burning off the tissues.
Ice pick scars may be treated by “punching”. This is a surgical procedure that cuts into the subcutaneous layers of fat. The hole is then repaired. This can be done with stitches or skin grafts.
Subcisions involve cutting the scar tissue away from the rest of the skin. Sometimes it works but sometimes it can just cause more scarring.
Topical retinoids or steroid injections are the most common way to treat keloid scarring. They are the best choice for keloid scars. Sometimes this manner of treatment works. Sometimes it fails. Keloid scars are the worst type of acne scars to treat.