Treatment options for acne scars in Portland, OR – is laser therapy a good choice
Dr. Adam Maddox and the team at Thrive are well-known in Portland and beyond, having earned a reputation for excellence in aesthetic and wellness-related treatments. We see patients with a wide range of concerns, but perhaps none so common as acne.
Modern myths assure teens that they will outgrow acne. Often, the pimples do fade as puberty-related hormones subside, but not always. When it does clear, many people are left with lingering discoloration or deep scars. Sometimes acne returns later in life. The reality is that nearly everyone will experience this condition at some point, and it often leaves lasting marks.
Scar causes and prevention
Acne scars are caused by picking at or “popping” pimples. You’ve probably read or heard that statement many times and it is quite true – but it is misleading. When you puncture or squeeze a lesion, you are causing skin damage. It can cause the infection to spread, actually worsening acne, and it most certainly increases the risk of scarring. However, it is not the only cause of scars.
Even if you never touch a pimple, it can still leave a scar. This is most common with deep cysts and severe inflammation. As the lesion heals, it does not form enough new collagen to replace lost tissue. This leaves deep depressions, such as icepick or boxcar scars. Although less common, the opposite can occur, with excess collagen production causing a raised scar. Many people also experience discoloration, known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which is not technically a scar but troubling nevertheless.
The most important thing you can do to prevent scars is seek treatment for acne right away. The longer inflammation remains, the more skin damage it causes. We offer a variety of laser and light therapies, chemical peels, topical products and more. These treatments are designed to clear outbreaks quickly and help prevent future outbreaks.
How laser treatment improves acne scars
Skin injury triggers a response within the body, including rapid collagen development. When it goes right, destroyed tissue is replaced and new, healthy, soft skin forms. When the body cannot completely repair damage, it must protect the area. In this case, a layer of tougher, more fibrous collagen forms, creating what we know scar tissue. Effective improvement of sunken acne scars requires a dual-action approach. The treatment must replace tissue loss and break up scar tissue.
That is exactly the goal of laser therapy. The procedure targets deep dermal layers. As tissue absorbs light energy it creates heat, which can soften rigid scar tissue. This process also “tricks” skin into activating healing mechanisms and producing new collagen.
Lasers for PIH
The discolored spots left by acne are temporary, they will usually fade over time. However, it can take years. If you don’t want to wait that long, laser resurfacing can be a good solution. This technique targets the upper layers of skin, eliminating damaged cells and stimulating rapid rejuvenation. As a fresh layer of skin forms, it is often free of discoloration, fine lines, and other blemishes.
Beyond lasers – additional options in acne scar treatment
Depending on the type and severity of scars, complete removal may not be possible. Laser resurfacing may eliminate superficial scarring but, the amount of new collagen generated is limited. Deep scars are not likely to disappear, though they can be improved considerably. In some cases, scars can be further improved with other types of treatment. This may include:
- Chemical peeling – Similar to lasers, a powerful chemical peel can resurface the skin and stimulate tissue regeneration. Milder peels induce gentle rejuvenation and deep exfoliation. Various types of peels may be used to improve scars, treat active acne, or both.
- Infini – This dual acting treatment can improve stubborn, hardened acne scars. It works with radiofrequency energy, which creates a therapeutic thermal reaction similar to laser treatment. However, the energy does not pass through the epidermis. Instead, it is delivered directly to deep layers via insulated microneedles. This technique allows optimal tissue heating with minimal impact on the skin’s surface, while the microneedling action manually breaks down thick scar tissue.
- Dermal fillers – Even with the help of various medical treatments, your body may not be able to create enough tissue to smooth out acne scars. Dermal fillers can replace missing tissue, raising the area to the same level as surrounding skin.