Health & Medical Acne

The Use Of Lasers For Acne Scar Removal

Laser Acne Scar Removal - Overview

Fortunately advances is technology and medical procedures have brought about many new techniques to the field of medical science, and dermatology (skin) is no exception, laser acne removal is fast becoming a widely accepted, if expensive technique to treat the scarring left by acne.

It is a sad fact that for the most part, this type of treatment will only be affordable by those who have a fairly decent income and are able to quickly accumulate the necessary funds for these treatments.

On a cautionary note treatments mentioned here require great professional knowledge and skill to perform, only dermatologists, surgeons or other professionally qualified people should be entrusted to carry out these procedures, under no circumstances should you use anyone who is not professionally qualified.

Scarring Types

For this article about laser acne removal, let us first take a quick look at acne scarring, in terms of their appearance and how they are formed.

Formation And Types Of Scars

Acne scars occur as a result of inflamed tissue under the surface of the skin (the dermis layer) with the origin resulting from the acne condition itself, and the scarring that may remain is made by the body's own repair mechanism attempting to heal itself by the formation of an excess of collagen around the affected areas, thus forming the scars, which because they are formed under the surface layer of skin, are unlike normal scars and can be more difficult to treat.

Collagen is a body protein and is the primary component of connective tissue in the body.

Acne scars take several different forms and are commonly classified according to their shape and/or appearance.

Icepick scars: These are generally the most often seen on the face, are pits in the skin's surface that may be quite deep

Box car scars: Decidedly angular in appearance, this type of scarring may be fairly shallow or fairly deep, often occurring on the side of the face or head.

Rolling scars: These form a ripple effect across the skin rather like a wave.

Hypertrophic scars: These have a thick appearance and are also known as keloid scars.

Pigmented scars: This term is a bit of a misnomer, as these are neither scars nor do they have any permanent effect on the pigment of the skin.

This type of scar is generally what results from nodular or cystic acne, that may leave behind marks just under the surface of the skin.
Pigmentation scars usually clear on their own, but may take from three to 24 months to do so, although it is possible the marks can become permanent if left untreated.

The above then lists the most commonly seen types of scarring, and what are most commonly noticed on older generations of people who had bad acne when they young and before the condition was properly understood or any procedures like laser acne removal was available.

Laser Acne Scar Removal - Likely Costs

Any kind of laser surgery such as this is extremely expensive, with prices generally starting at around one thousand dollars up to maybe six thousand dollars per treatment, and in a lot of cases more than one session of treatment will be required.

Due to the expense of laser acne removal getting your acne treated this way will probably be out of reach for many people, who can do little except live with their condition.

For this reason there seem to be a myriad of new anti-scarring products that have appeared on the market to take advantage of the situation as usual, it is unlikely if your scarring is anything other than superficial that any acne scar products will help you that much, despite some of the claims that are made by some of the purveyors of such products.

At best they may help to make the scarring less obvious by covering minor imperfections in the skin, and of course this may give a helpful psychological boost to people who are very conscious of their condition which can only be a good thing, so if you lacking the funds for laser surgery, these products, and the careful application of certain cosmetics is just about your only option, and if they help you to look and feel better then they are probably worth the cost.

CO2 Lasers

This treatment which generally is the most aggressive uses a Carbon Dioxide laser
and medically the process is referred to as Ablative laser surgery.

For this type of treatment, that is usually performed under a local anesthetic, on medium or severe scarring, the laser is used to precisely burn off layers of skin including the scar-damaged areas, therefore allowing new skin cells to grow at the normal rate in their place.

The outcome of the surgery cannot be guaranteed or predicted until healing has taken place, and as this is such a new technique the results obtained can vary, but reported success rates are quite high, your chances of success will be further explained to by your dermatologist, as he or she will have a greater understanding of your particular condition.

Ablative laser surgery may also have a stimulating effect on the tissue collagen, causing it to contract a little, this is good as it assists to make the scars outwardly less visible.

Laser surgery of this type, can be very expensive typically $3-6k dollars per treatment, and more than one may be required. and it does not come without a few side effects, some of which you will undoubtedly experience.

However, do not worry unduly apart from some initial discomfort and soreness, the main thing you need to be aware of and prevent is any infection, so it is very important to keep the wounds properly covered with sterile dressings until they have had time to heal, you will undoubtedly receive the best advice and method to do this for your own particular circumstances from your consultant.

Proper healing will normally take around three weeks, but your skin may be slightly discolored where the surgery was applied for several months afterward.

CO2 Laser - Side Effects

Extract of article from PubMed The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

The short and long-term side effects of carbon dioxide laser resurfacing.

"The incidence of side effects are generally very low for CO2 laser resurfacing, including scarring, post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation, and infection. However, there is a significant and previously unreported risk of hypo-pigmentation in an area of the population who often seek improvement in the appearance".

Complications of Dermatological Laser Surgery

It is important to be aware of any complications from this type of operation as surgery of any kind has an associated risk, but do not get overly worried as there should be few problems if you are a normal healthy adult, this subject is beyond the scope of this site but there is a resource below if you would like to read more into this topic.

Erbium YAG Lasers

Erbium YAG Laser resurfacing is very similar to the CO2 laser in its operation, the whole premise being the removal of the troublesome areas of skin so that fresh layers may grow normally in their place thus making the effected areas much more normal in appearance.

This particular type of laser surgery was developed in an attempt to lessen the side effects that are caused by the more aggressive types, and to some extent this has been successful, the after effects of the Erbium YAG are very similar to that of the CO2 laser but are a lot milder.

This treatment is usually carried out with a local anesthetic and can take anything from a few minutes to an hour or so, this is one of the more expensive therapies and more than one session may be required for optimum results, this will generally be some time after your first appointment, but you will get the best information on this from your own Dermatologist.

As with any kind of new treatment, because the technology is still in its infancy there can be variations in the results obtained as no two people are alike, so far the results are excellent and it as likely they will get even better with time as more testing has been carried out on this relatively new branch of surgery.

With this treatment once again the laser is used to remove skin so new skin can form in its place. This is a relatively new procedure and results can vary.

The recipient will probably have a few after effects of the treatment to deal with, apart from some soreness which is unavoidable, the skin may also become reddened and also swollen to some extent, this will usually disappear as quickly as it would for other skin trauma.

There is also likely to be some discoloration of the skin surface too, the treated area may darken, and it can also become several shades lighter although this is a lot less common with this particular type of laser treatment.

After healing has taken place and things have settled down you may notice that the skin has become noticeably more pink, this is not permanent but it may take a very long time before it returns to it's natural color.

Fractional Laser Acne Scar Removal

The fractional laser used in acne skin therapy, as its name might suggest is only used in very small areas, it is a lot less severe treatment than other forms of laser therapy and consequently the after effects are also much reduced, however the results will usually not be as good as that obtained from the more aggressive forms of laser.

Multiple treatments will also be required and at upwards of $1k a time, it is also a fairly costly procedure.

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