Safely Removing Embarrassing Acne Scars

When you finally find a regimen that works for your acne, you probably feel relief. However, you may still have scars to remind you of your acne. They can take the form of pits within the skin or bumpy patches of excess tissue. Whatever the type of scar, there are treatments to help you achieve softer, smoother skin.

More severe forms of acne have been linked to more severe acne scarring. The earlier you treat your acne, the better chance preventing or lessening the severity of scarring. Delaying acne treatment by even three years is likely to increase the risk of acne scarring.

Acne scars may also form because you picked at pimples in the past. When acne is squeezed, the infected debris from the pore is driven deeper in to the follicle. When the infection enters the dermis, scarring can be the result.

Although you may think that you have to live with these acne scars forever, there are a number of different treatments to help treat them and improve the appearance of your skin.

This article will discuss:

Why Acne Scars Form

Acne scars are a result of your natural body repair. Although the immune response to kill bacteria in acne is a necessary thing, scarring can sometimes be the unfortunate side effect.

Acne scar formation involves 5 steps:

When the sebaceous glands in your skin produce oil, it can mix with debris and acne-causing bacteria, which plugs your pores.

  1. As bacteria builds up in the pores, they become red and swollen.
  2. The infected debris then bursts into the deeper layer of your skin, essentially causing a wound to the dermis.
  3. Your body attempts to eliminate the deep bacterial infection with a healing inflammatory response.
  4. As your body struggles kill the bacteria and heal the wound in the dermis, it sometimes replaces infected skin tissue with rougher, more fibrous scar tissue.

Types of Acne Scars

Even with the most careful and conscientious treatment, acne scars may still occur. Typically, those with more inflammatory or cystic types of acne are likely to have more severe scars. Not all acne scars are alike.

Generally, acne scars fall under two categories, those caused by:

  • Loss of tissue (atrophic)
  • An excess of tissue (hypertrophic)

Within these categories, acne scars fall into one of four types, which include:

  • Ice Pick Scars. Ice pick scars are deep, narrow scars which form pits in the skin. This type is the most common.
  • Boxcar Scars. Boxcar scars have angular, well-defined edges, which usually form on the temples or cheeks. They resemble chickenpox scars.
    • Rolling Scars. Rolling scars create a wave-like appearance on the skin’s surface.
    • Keloid Scars. Keloid, also known as hypertrophic, scars are over growths of tissue which expand beyond the original wound site. The scar is rubbery and firm and may itch. Often they form to be much larger than the original wound.

Another factor you may experience that’s related to acne scarring is discoloration, known medically as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). The different coloration of your skin can include pink, red, purple, brown, or even black, depending on your skin tone and depth of the discoloration. Discoloration is not technically a scar because it is not permanent and will eventually fade away with time. It also responds well to topical treatment.

Acne Scar Treatment

As with other scars, acne scars are the result of the skin’s healing a wound, resulting in too much collagen in that specific area. Unlike most other scars, the wound occurred within the dermis from the original acne infection. Thus, the scar is within the skin, rather than on its surface. This makes acne scarring difficult to treat.

In recent years, more effective treatments have been discovered. It is important to note, most scars can’t be completely erased, but having the right treatment can significantly reduce the visibility of the scars. Some medical treatments are riskier and more complicated than other options, and some can result in side effects almost as bad as the scars themselves.

Some of the different types of treatments include, but are not limited to:bottles

  • Laser treatment
  • Dermal fillers
  • Chemical peels
  • Skin care products

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment are used on acne scars by either targeting tiny blood vessels to take away redness or to stimulate the production of collagen and new skin cells. With any type of laser treatment, side effects such as severely dry, flaking skin may occur. Your face is likely to be swollen, sensitive, and have a sun burned appearance.

Many types of laser treatments require a course of multiple treatments, meaning you must experience these side effects on multiple occasions. Laser treatment can also get very expensive, costing anywhere between $1,500 to $2,500.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers can be used to treat acne scars by injecting a substance like collagen or fat. This is intended to plump up the tissue under the scar and raise it to the same level as the healthy skin.

The risks of dermal fillers include:

  • Over correction resulting in bumps
  • Infection, which was the cause of the original scarring
  • Bruising
  • Pain at the injection site
  • Granuloma formation, or firm, ball-like inflammation due to tissue injury

On top of all this, the results are not permanent, so even if they do help, they must be repeated. Dermal injections cost anywhere from $300 to $2000 per treatment.

Chemical Peel

The term chemical peel encompasses a broad range of chemical treatments to your skin. Chemical solutions, such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and salicylic acid, are applied to your skin to dissolve skin cells. The dead cells are then shed off, revealing fresh ones. This helps spur the growth of new tissue and improve the texture of the new skin.

Costing aorund $1,000, chemical peels can be extremely irritating and even damaging to the skin. The stronger peels are more effective for acne scarring, but also carry more risks. The face appears red and feels raw and painful after a chemical peel. There is a notable risk of infection, additional scarring, and discoloration.

Another possible side effect is the loss of your skin’s ability to make pigment. This means that not only will your skin be lighter in color, it will also have less natural protection from the sun.

Skin Care Products

Not all acne scar treatments are as complicated and expensive as laser treatments, dermal fillers, or chemical peels. Using topical skin care products can help improve your skin as well, but are much less expensive and work without risks or complications.

To start, treat your current acne with the Perricone MD Skin Clear Regimen. When you treat and prevent acne, it helps reduce your chance of new scars from forming. The cleanser, toner, and hydrator use ingredients such as salicylic and lactic acids to help prevent acne by reducing excess sebum and unclogging your pores.

The adult acne products also contain powerful anti-aging ingredients like Alpha Lipoic Acid and DMAE to tighten and smooth skin, even discoloration, and help erase fine lines.

To shrink pores, even hyperpigmentation, and smooth and refine skin texture to improve the appearance of acne scars, try Advanced Face Firming Activator and Pigment Corrective Topical.

Advanced Face Firming Activator is formulated with:

  • DMAE, which works to:
    • Improve skin’s elasticity
    • Lift, tighten, and tone skin
    • Diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid, which helps to:
    • Reduce fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, pore size, puffiness, imperfections, and uneven skin tone
    • Refines skin texture and protects skin cells
  • Sodium Hyaluronate, which works to:
    • Lock in moisture to help diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles
    • Renew skin’s suppleness

Pigment Corrective Topical is also formulated with DMAE and also includes:

  • Vitamin C Ester, which helps to:
    • Improve firmness and elasticity
    • Diminish fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration
    • Create a smooth and luminous appearance
  • Pycnogenol, which works to:
    • Improve skin health and renew collagen
    • Provides brightening benefits
    • Known for centuries-old healing properties

At a fraction of the cost of laser treatments, dermal fillers, and chemical peels, this suggested combination of topical treatments will help treat acne, prevent new scars, and improve the appearance of acne scars you already have.


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20 Comments • Please comment below


  1. I have suffered with severe cystic acne for over 15 years and the reason being due to PCOS (Which I was recently diagnosed). I have started treating my condition and finally I have had no break outs in over six months.

    All my life I have been eating healthy, drinking 1.5 litrs of water a day and exercising. Fortunately this has helped me to keep my weight in check.

    However my acne scarring is terrible. I have had numerous lasers and peels done and while I have got about 40% improvement I would like to have further results. Therefore it would be great to be on your program and see the benefits.

  2. I have acne scars would love to be a tester!

  3. I’m a 25 year old Asian woman. My skin used to be flawless up until a few years ago that I developed acne and I would pick every single one of them. Now I’m left with pores that always have blackheads and acne scars of all types. I’m pretty desperate.

  4. Some of my skin discolorations from acne scars have lightened and my skin appears brighter and smooth. I use the Rosehip Hibiscus Serum from Made from Earth, which is great b/c I have oily, acne prone skin, so it doesn’t exacerbate this problem. I use it in the morning. The serum is thick, but absorbs quickly into the skin.

    I use about two pumps for my entire face. Prior to buying this product, I tried Clarins Brightening Lotion SPF 20, which cost over $50 and was disappointed in the results. Compared to Clarins or the other department store brands, this product is alot better.

  5. I am a 59 yr old retired nurse. Due to a
    physical disability that forced me to retire early. I recently started having a lot of breakouts on my face. I’m devastated because
    I’ve tried everything, and nothing seems to
    work at keeping my acne controlled. It would
    be nice to be considered as a tester, and I
    would appreciate the opportunity after
    hearing so many good things about Dr. Perricone products. I am thanking you in advance.

  6. I have moderate acne scars and uneven skintone. I also have oily skin, and continue to struggle with acne breakouts. I’ve been reading your book The Clear Skin Prescription and hope that the recommendations contained within will finally result in clear skin for me. I would love to be a tester of your products. Thanks

  7. Hi, i am mild acne scars, and still have breakouts (pre menstrual). I am interested to becoming a tester for your scar-treating products. THanks

  8. It is so true about the comments on self esteem with acne scarring. I had an allergic reaction to anesthesia from a recent surgery and on top of the acne scars I already had, the reaction left scars on my face. It looked like road rash on half my face even though it went away I still have scars. I hate being seen in public just being so self conscious about the scarring. I would love to be a tester for this product and others!!!

  9. I have have recently found your blog and it has interesting info. thanks and good luck

  10. I had a needle breast biopsy-thankfully negative results for cancer but was allergic to the titanium marker and collagen and had it removed.For 4 months I have had pain and an ugly scar inverted on my breast.About 5 days ago I grabbed a sample of Amine Complex Face Lift and the next day saw healing I haven’t seen for 4 months.Skin is growing,the pain left and the cyst/scab broke up!It works and I am of African/Asian/Mid East/Euro mix.I’d love to be a tester for you.

  11. Acne took my self esteem when I was a kid and now I’m almost 40. It has left me scared emotionally and physically. I would love to have my confidence back as so many other people would. I don’t want anyone to go thru the embarrassment and frustration that I have. If I can accomplish both by testing your products I would be thrilled.

  12. Please let me be a tester!! i have scars everywhere and really wish they would go away so i can finally wear shorts and tanktops

  13. Olive skinned Hispanic with discolorations,browning areas scattered over faceas well as adult acne,enlarged pores,blackheads. I think related to post menopause and aging.I also find it difficult to find products targeted to Hispanics. I am terribly self conscious.What works? I am tired of trying to cover up. I am hoping to test your products and be a poster girl for your products which would prove good skin is a possiblity even at 61 years young. Thanks for the opportunity.

  14. Dr. Pericone, you were the first one to bring out what we need to help ourselves and our skin. In turn we feel better about ourselves which affects our mood and outlook and I want to Thank You for that. You have made us aware that there are things we can do other than having surgery to make ourselves look better. You are helping us to help ourselves inside, and outside! Thank you! I have acne scars on my cheeks and I have gone through periods where I have used a product or taken a supplement but then have not seen results. I do not want to go through any surgeries as I had shattered the discs in my neck and have some neck scars. I wonder if this product would help surgical scars? Thanks!

  15. I am new to the Perricone products but have had acne most of my life so I am looking for some help and would love to test products.

  16. I would love to test this product out. If it works I would buy it and tell my friends with acne scarring know all about it.

  17. I have been struggling with acne scars that looks like red spots. I need help, very useful

  18. I am learning so much on this site and hope over time using this line to smooth out my skin after adult acne breakouts. A friend said I should use
    the supplements so I am here looking into that. I would also love to be a Perricone tester!

  19. This is a big problem for me, do you think these products would work well on African American skin where hyper pigmentation is a big problem and common result of acne?

  20. [...] can be spead on age spots to destroy extra pigments. With freezing, there comes a risk of permanent scars or skin [...]