Do I Need Laser Treatment for Acne Scars?

March 27, 2018

While most acne sufferers grow out of their acne or find a successful treatment, the scars left behind can pose serious problems. Discoloration, raised or depressed scars can leave you feeling self-conscious, anxious and discouraged.

If you’re suffering from acne scars, there are several treatments available to help you feel and look better. Laser treatment for acne is one of the most effective ways to mend the scarring that acne leaves behind. To find out if laser treatment is right for you, keep the following details in mind.

How Laser Treatment Helps Acne Scars

Laser treatments work to reduce the appearance of acne scars by resurfacing the skin and generating new collagen. The collagen fills in the indentations and smooths the skin. “The upper layer of skin is essentially vaporized during treatment with a laser beam. The body then naturally works to heal the wound by creating new collagen,” says Sileen Dowis, a certified physician assistant with U.S. Dermatology Partners Shoal Creek.

While results vary, the outcome is typically a reduction in pigmentation issues and smoother skin texture. Some downtime will be required, depending on the type of laser treatment received. Most patients experience very little pain during the procedure, but some discomfort is to be expected.

Types of Treatment

There are several laser procedures that work well to heal acne scars. In consultation with your provider, select a treatment that works best for the type of acne scarring you have.

CO2 Laser Restoration: The carbon dioxide laser vaporizes the skin layers, activating natural collagen production as part of the healing process. This procedure is used to reduce facial scarring and even out skin tone. Side effects are relatively minor and usually go away after 10 days. The number of treatments needed and results will vary depending on the individual.

Fraxel: Using fractional laser technology, this procedure helps to restore skin texture and encourages the creation of new skin. It is particularly effective at erasing brown spots and acne scars. Fraxel penetrates beneath the skin’s surface to eliminate damaged skin cells, replacing them with fresh, healthy skin. Side effects can include some redness and swelling depending on how aggressive the treatment is. You’ll continue to see results over time as the deeper layers of skin continue to create new collagen.

Laser Skin Resurfacing: Laser skin resurfacing is effective for shallow acne scars. During the procedure, a laser beam is concentrated on the problem area. Rapid pulses are delivered to remove skin layer by layer. You may continue to see results over the four months or so following the procedure, as the skin continues to rejuvenate.

Profractional Therapy: This therapy is similar to Fraxel and is used to treat acne scars by stimulating natural collagen growth. The profractional laser penetrates beneath the skin’s surface to eliminate damaged skin cells. Side effects include swelling and redness that can last two weeks or longer. Results will depend on your lifestyle and age, but you should see improvements up to six months after treatment.

Spectra Laser Peels: This procedure was designed to improve uneven pigment and skin texture. It’s especially effective for people with acne scars and skin tone issues. The laser, giving off quick pulses, is passed over the skin. In between passes, the skin is sprayed with a saline solution to keep the laser cool. Redness after the procedure usually only lasts a few hours, but some patients experience itching and swelling for a few days.

Your provider will help you select the appropriate laser treatment. The choice will likely depend on the type of acne scars you have (raised, depressed or discoloration) and your lifestyle.


While many patients experience excellent results, it’s important to manage your expectations. “Results will most likely be gradual, and only work to reduce the appearance of scars,” says Dowis. “Remember that no treatment can remove acne scars entirely.”

Laser treatments can trigger cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth, so tell your doctor if you’re prone to developing either. Always select a well-qualified surgeon to perform the procedure.

Looking to Visit a Dermatologist for Acne Treatment?

Acne scars can have a significant effect on a patient’s mental health. While the acne’s gone, the scars serve as a reminder to a painful time. Are you suffering from acne scars? To learn more, contact U.S. Dermatology Partners today to make an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists. We have multiple locations throughout the country, so fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us. One of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.


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