One of the problems with acne is that it affects skin in more than 1 way. After breakouts have cleared, discoloration and scarring may remain. Discoloration — called a pseudo scar or macule — usually occurs as a flat spot that’s red, brown, black, gray, or blue, depending on the patient’s skin color. The condition is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Acne also forms 2 main types of scarring: atrophic and hypertrophic. Each represents a way that collagen responds after an acne outbreak. With atrophic scarring, replacement collagen production is either inadequate or non-existent, creating pits and hollows on the skin. Hypertrophic scars are raised, due to too much collagen made in response to the skin damage. These can be itchy and painful, often are difficult to treat, and may return even after successful treatment. The lesions from hypertrophic scars, called keloids, can be red or purple in color.
Chemical peels remove the outermost layers of the skin, typically those most affected by acne scarring. This reveals deeper layers of healthier skin, both smooth and moist. Certain peel formulations prove better against acne scars. Depending on the chemicals used, recovery time varies. Glycolic acid peels, for example, prove relatively mild with little recovery time. On the other hand, medium-depth peels, such as trichloroacetic acid, require several days for redness and swelling to subside. Laser treatments provide effective alternatives to chemical peels in some situations.
Essential Aesthetics and Laser uses CynoSure’s Icon and PicoSure® laser systems to treat skin discoloration and scarring. The Icon system works with several different handpieces to match the patient’s unique needs. The principle behind every handpiece remains the same, however. The subdermal tissue is heated by the laser, while surface skin remains minimally affected. This heating causes the body to produce new collagen and remove existing tissue, providing a new support base for the surface skin. This fills in pits and lines and reduces discoloration, improving the appearance acne scarring. The PicoSure uses a high-energy, short-duration laser that proves very effective on certain discolorations.
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