Laser acne scar removal: How it works and results to expect

Read Time: 8 Minutes
Suitable For: Anyone who is considering laser acne scar removal


This post was written by admin

August 22, 2018

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An introduction to laser acne scar removal

Acne and acne scarring can be a source of frustration, embarrassment and discomfort. Many people suffer from acne from all ages and across all skin types.

This skin condition can be painful, sore and highly irritating and in many cases unsightly. If diagnosed with acne, your doctor or dermatologist will talk you through various treatment options to reduce acne inflammation and acne scars.

The end goal is to be acne-free with minimal scars and clear, smooth skin, just like you see in the magazines! But this is a medical condition so all types of treatments explored should be well-informed and carefully considered.

The good news is that are many modern ways to treat acne successfully. However, we always advise seeking medical assistance as your first port of call.

What is acne and acne scarring?

First let’s consider exactly what acne is. In a nutshell, it’s the blockage and infection of pores in the skin which cause swollen, red pimples that can become painful and uncomfortable.

Naturally, our pores contain glands that produce sebum, but hormonal imbalances trigger the overproduction of sebum and it is this, combined with dead skin cells and bacteria that cause this unsightly inflammation across the dermis.

In many cases, acne is severe and attempts to ‘fix’ it by picking often damages the skin, resulting in unsightly scars.

Key treatments for acne scar removal

There are many types of acne and acne scar treatments available.

Depending on skin types and the type of acne in question your doctor or pharmacist may recommend antibiotics, emollient creams and offer general advice on self-help techniques for acne. Such treatments have varying success rates but generally, they are slow and steady processes taking up to three months to show improvements in the skin.

To reduce varying types of scars your dermatologist my recommend various options within your treatment plan to get the best results. For more serious acne scarring, the treatments below are commonly recommended.

Dermabrasion (non-surgical)

Dermabrasion is where the top layer of skin is removed using a specially-made wire brush or laser device. After the procedure, skin can look red and tender for several weeks but will later heal to reveal smoother skin with less visible scarring.

Microdermabrasion is a lighter abrasive treatment where the skin is sprayed with exfoliant crystals to remove dead skin cells. A much lighter treatment, it is less effective if you have prominent acne scarring.

Overall, these abrasive techniques can leave the skin red and vulnerable for 12 weeks following treatment. Extra care must be taken during that time to protect the skin from sunlight.

Laser treatments (non-surgical)

Laser treatments can be used to target acne and acne scarring.

Non-ablative laser treatments work by heating up the underlying skin tissue without harming the surface. This stimulates your body to produce new collagen (a type of protein found in the skin) which helps repair the damage caused by scarring and can vastly improve skin appearance.

Ablative laser treatments work to remove the top layer of skin. The best-available lasers work at a gentle and optimal depth to resurface the acne-scarred skin. This improves skin texture and tone as the laser gently vaporises thin layers of the scarred surface to reveal healthy, undamaged skin below.

Laser resurfacing is a fast, safe and simple procedure with accelerated healing time thanks to the production of the body’s own collagen.

Punch techniques (surgical)

Punch techniques are surgical procedures used when treating acne scars known as ‘ice pick’ and ‘boxcar’ scars.

The techniques range from excision to elevation and grafting, each with the aim to surgically remove scars and either seal the wound, elevate the sunken skin or take a skin graft from elsewhere on the body (usually behind the ear) to reduce scar visibility.

These treatments usually require rest to heal, due to their invasive nature.

Subcision (surgical)

Subcision is a surgical treatment used when treating acne scars known as ‘rolling’ scars.

During surgery, the upper layer of skin is removed from the underlying scar tissue. During the process, blood pools under the affected area of skin and the clot of blood helps form new connective tissue. This pushes up the rolling scar making it level with the rest of the surface of the skin.

Once the surgical subcision has been completed, additional treatments such as laser treatment and dermabrasion are used to further improve the skin’s appearance.

Opting for laser acne scar removal

Ideally, you need a treatment with high success rates, minimal healing time and lasting, great-looking results.

Laser treatments that use the best technology have the highest success rates, heal quickly and don’t require surgery or medication. They can be carried out on any area of the body where acne prevails; such as the face, neck or back. Depending on the severity and surface area the problem is usually dealt with effectively within 3-5 treatments.

If you decide laser treatments are worth exploring, speak to your dermatologist who should offer a detailed consultation.

How does laser acne scar removal work?

The best laser systems make use of two wavelengths – one for the treatment of deep-lying tissues (known as Nd: YAG) and one for the treatment of surface imperfections (Er: YAG).

Er: YAG laser technology is used to remove micron-thin layers of skin. This means new skin can form in its place as the laser gently removes the scarred surface, revealing undamaged skin below.

Nd: YAG laser technology is used for active acne. This targets and destroys large sebaceous glands that overproduce sebum and cause acne in the first place. This wavelength also stimulates the production of collagen in the skin, which is vital in the successful treatment of acne.

Are there any side effects?

Some ablative laser treatments may cause a slight redness in the skin, itching or mild irritation. Avoiding heavy creams following the treatments allows the skin to breathe and heal.

Generally, patients see very minimal side-effects to laser acne scar revision treatments. Particularly those which use the safest and most advanced laser technology.

How will I benefit from laser acne scar removal?

Providing you seek out a reputable clinic which uses the very latest laser technology, you should be able to enjoy the following benefits:

  • A quick, safe and effective procedure
  • An overall improvement in skin texture and tone
  • A fast and gentle solution with no medication required
  • Accelerated healing process thanks to advanced Nd: YAG lasers
  • An increase in collagen production
  • Long-lasting results with minimal downtime

Results to expect from laser acne scar removal

Here are some visual examples of ‘before and after’ from patients suffering from acne scarring.


If you’d like to know more about laser acne treatments contact your doctor or dermatologist.

Or, use our treatment locator to find out where the best laser treatments are available in the UK. All locations recommended by us use only the best available, award-winning laser technology from Fotona.