Acne Scar Treatment Options

Strategies to reduce the appearance of acne scars and prevent new ones from forming

Treatment suggestions to make acne scars look less conspicuous.

Strategies to reduce the appearance of acne scars and prevent new ones from forming

By Edward Victor Ross, MD, Dermatologist

Acne can leave a lasting reminder of its presence in the form of a scar on your skin. While these telltale bumps and depressions have no serious health ramifications, they can damage self-esteem — which is never a good thing.

Thankfully, there are treatments available to make acne scars look less conspicuous. Talk to a dermatologist about your options. Here are a few you may want to explore:

Topical creams

Acne scars are caused by inflammation, so anything that reduces it can help the healing process. There are a number of over-the-counter creams that can accelerate healing, such as cortisone. In addition, there are a variety of fade creams that can make the scars less apparent.

Laser treatments

There are several different types of laser treatments. Non-ablative lasers stimulate collagen production. Ablative lasers reduce bumpiness by taking off the top layer of skin and the scar with it. From there, the natural healing process takes over.


Dermabrasion takes away the top layer of skin, smoothing out your appearance. Patients are placed under local anesthetic and a rotating brush is used to remove the blemished skin. Recovery usually takes about two weeks.


Sometimes the solution is adding rather than subtracting. Fillers, like collagen, can be injected into the skin to smooth out scars and make them less noticeable.


For deep acne scars, surgery may be the solution. For example, a procedure called a punch excision cuts out scars. The skin is then sutured and a graft applied.


There are a number of ways to prevent scars from forming, or make them less noticeable. Again, acne scars result from inflammation, so it’s best not to do anything that can increase it, such as picking at pimples or going in the sun without sunscreen. I also recommend against vitamin E. While it was thought to reduce scarring, new research is showing it actually does the opposite.

There are a lot of options for taking care of acne scars, but it’s important to choose the ones that will be most effective based on your skin type, condition and age. Your dermatologist can help you sort through the many options and help remove the acne scars that are marring your appearance.

This health and wellness tip was provided by Edward Victor Ross, MD, a laser and cosmetic dermatologist at Scripps Clinic in San Diego.