Ask Dr. Parks, Skin Care

How to Reduce the Appearance of Acne Scars

Glytone Mild Cream Cleanser, Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser, NewGel_ Dot, Elta MD Sunscreens

As if having acne weren’t bad enough, many people are reminded of the terrible experience day in and day out when they look in the mirror and see their acne scars. Not everyone who has acne will also have acne scars, however, some are more prone to it than others. If you have cystic acne, the most severe type of acne, where the lesions are actually cysts and there is severe inflammation, it is likely that you will develop scars. It’s also probable that you’ll experience scarring if you pop your pimples, so as much will power as it takes, don’t do this!

Chances are that if you had acne, you were willing to do whatever it took to get rid of it. The same will likely be true for your acne scars. When it comes to treating, and getting rid of acne scars, it will depend on the type and severity of the scars. I see a lot of patients in my office who suffer from terrible acne scarring and I always like to discuss their options with them – because there definitely are options. These are some of the best and most effective treatments out there:


Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that’s usually performed by an esthetician. It uses a high-revolution sanding machine that sands down and evens out the depth of the skin. If you have depressed acne scars it can make them appear less noticeable. You would need 4-6 treatments to start seeing results.

Micro Needling:

Micro needling is another cosmetic procedure that can be performed by an esthetician and promotes collagen production and the healing of the skin. Not only that, micro needling will enhance the benefits of any skin care products that you’re using, as it allows them to absorb deeper into the skin. Micro needling uses multiple tiny needles to make punctures in the skin. While there are micro needling devices that can be purchased for at-home use, they would not be as effective as having it performed by a professional because the needles will not penetrate as deeply. You will need 3-5 treatments to begin seeing results.


A dermatologist or plastic surgeon should perform any laser treatments. This procedure will help to even out the depth of the skin and will penetrate the skin deeper than both microdermabrasion or micro needling. Therefore, laser treatments will likely be more effective. You will need 2-3 session to begin seeing results.


Fillers work to push up the indentation in the skin from the acne scars and a dermatologist or plastic surgeon should inject these. Certain fillers used to treat acne scars specifically, such as Bellafil, will last 18 months to 2 years. This is a more recent solution to the problem of acne scars and is not a permanent solution. You may, however, get the most correction with this, even if it is only temporary.

Products to Eliminate Scarring:

Most skin care products will not actually eliminate scars, but instead will remove the discoloration that occurs from acne scarring. One excellent product to actually heal the scarring are the NewGel+ Dots. These are best for use on small raised acne scars. These medical grade silicone gel sheets are clinically proven to reduce, flatten, fade and smooth both old and new scars. You should wear these every day from 6-23 hours for a minimum of 2 months (additional improvement may occur with continued use up to 6 months).

Products to Eliminate Discoloration:

Discoloration is the result of inflammation that occurs with scarring. There are some excellent products that can eliminate this discoloration. Not everyone experiences discoloration along with their scarring, but if you do, even if you have the procedures mentioned above performed to eliminate the actual scars, you may still experience discoloration.

The best way to minimize discoloration in the first place is to wear sunscreen on a daily basis. I love the Elta MD products. They have a wide variety of choices, many of which come in tinted and non-tinted versions. The tinted sunscreens should help even out your skin and therefore the acne scars won’t be as visible.

You can also use products that contain glycolic acid such as the Glytone Mild Cream or Mild Gel Cleansers. Using a product containing 2% hydroquinone (the highest percentage available without a prescription) will help as well. Hydroquinone is a very powerful ingredient to reduce hyperpigmentation and the Glycolic Acid will help to even the skin tone. Some great products containing hydroquinone are the Glytone Dark Spot Corrector or the Clinicians Complex 6% Skin Bleaching Cream.

About Dr. Alan J. Parks

Dr. Alan Parks is a board certified dermatologist. Dr. Parks founded his practice, Eastside Dermatology, in 1986 and has been practicing there ever since. In 2016 Dr. Parks launched DermWarehouse, an eCommerce website selling professional strength skin care products to customers across the United States.

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