What Is the Best Treatment for Acne Scars?

If you’ve ever suffered from acne, you’re hardly alone.

It’s estimated that about 50 million Americans deal with this uncomfortable and embarrassing problem each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

And although it affects about 85% of those between the ages of 12 and 24, acne isn’t just a young person’s issue. It can happen at any stage of life, from early adulthood to middle age and beyond.

On top of that, it isn’t just acne itself that degrades the appearance of your skin. It’s also the scars it leaves behind. 

About one in five people who get acne will also have acne scars that linger after their blemishes heal. While they may fade naturally over time, acne scars rarely disappear completely on their own.

The good news is that help is available. Cayce Medical Spa offers a number of personalized treatments for improving the look and feel of your skin, depending on the type of acne scars you have. Here’s what you need to know about acne scars and what to do about them.

Types of Acne Scars

Acne scars can vary based on size, shape and texture. Some appear as indentations on the skin while others appear as raised bumps. The type of scars you have will help your dermatologist recommend the best course of treatment.

  • Ice pick scars appear as a round indention that is larger at the top and narrowing toward the surface of the skin. They tend to appear on the forehead and upper cheeks.
  • Box car scars are square- or round-shaped indentions where the skin appears sunken or pushed inward. They are most common on the cheeks or jawline.
  • Rolling scars are wavy or uneven patches left behind after a blemish heals. They are caused by damage underneath the skin’s surface and usually show up on the lower half of the cheeks or along the jaw.
  • Hypertrophic scars are flat or raised scar tissue that occur when excess collagen is produced as a breakout heals. They are common on the chest, back, shoulders and face.
  • Keloid acne scars are raised bumps that often appear darker than the surrounding healthy skin. They may also feel itchy or painful.
  • Dark spots or staining is common in people with medium or dark skin who have had acne. They are triggered when excess melanin develops as blemishes heal.
  • Perifollicular elastolysis, also known as papular scars, appear as rounded or oval-shaped bumps. They are commonly found on the arms, chest, back, shoulders and face.

Causes of Acne Scars

Not everyone who gets acne will experience long-lasting scars. Here are some of the factors that may increase your risk:

  • Extensive skin damage: Acne blemishes that penetrate deep into the skin, such as nodules or cysts, are more likely to leave visible scars.
  • Touch, picking or scratching blemishes: If you’ve experienced a breakout, avoid touching or picking at the affected area. This increases the risk of inflammation and slows the healing process, which increases the risk of permanent scarring.
  • Variations in the healing process: In some people, the body naturally produces excess collagen as blemishes heal, which can lead to raised scars. At the other end of the spectrum, those who produce too little collagen may be left with indentions or sunken scars.
  • Genetics: If you have close family members with acne scars, you may be more likely to develop them yourself.

Treating Acne Scars at Home

If you have lingering scars after your acne heals, there may be things you can do at home.

  • Topical medications containing retinoids or salicylic acid may reduce the appearance of scars so they’re less obvious.
  • Skin creams containing azelaic acid may reduce redness or dark spots. 
  • Skin bleaching treatments can help you lighten hyperpigmented areas that appear darker than the rest of your skin.
  • Some people use concealer or foundation to help scars blend in with the rest of the skin. 
  • Applying sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher may prevent scarred areas from getting darker. 

Cayce Medical Spa offers quality, medical grade products that can help diminish the appearance of acne scars and discoloration. 

Professional Acne Scar Treatments

Schedule an appointment with Cayce Medical Spa if your acne scars don’t respond to routine at-home care. Our dermatologists and estheticians will examine the type and severity of your scars to determine the best treatment. 

Some patients respond to specialized treatments that can be used at home, while in-office procedures offer the best results for many.

SkinPen Microneedling   

Microneedling stimulates new tissue growth using a device with tiny needles rolled over the skin. SkinPen® is the only FDA-approved medical grade microneedling device and is available at Cayce Medical Spa. 

SkinPen® uses tiny, sterile needles to puncture the skin and stimulate the body’s natural wound-healing process. This remodels the scar tissue while keeping overall skin texture intact. 

Microneedling can be supplemented with platelet rich plasma therapy, in which the patient’s own plasma is harvested and then injected into the affected area. Over the course of multiple treatments, this procedure helps produce visible results faster. 

Chemical peels

A chemical peel uses a chemical solution applied to the top layers of your skin to reveal a smoother, more even tone underneath. Treatments such as Skinceuticals micropeels or glytone peels can be customized for your skin type.

TCA Cross Procedure

This procedure treats pitted acne scars to even out your skin’s surface. Your esthetician will apply a small amount of trichloroacetic acid, or TCA, to the affected area. Results include increased collagen production and a lifting of the scar surface.

Non-Ablative Laser Rejuvenation

Lasers are effective in treating acne scars, as well as other skin problems such as fine lines and wrinkles. The laser heats the affected area and stimulates collagen production. Multiple sessions at regular intervals are recommended for best results. 


With subcision, a fine, sterile needle is inserted into the skin at different angles underneath the scar. This procedure breaks up underlying scar tissue, which promotes rapid healing and improvement of skin texture. It is ideal for depressed “rolling” acne scars.


Radiofrequency energy promotes new collagen production for a skin tightening effect. Morpheus8 uses a fractional device that combines microneedling with radiofrequency technology. 

During this procedure, 24 coated pins penetrate the subdermal layer and break up connective tissue while delivering radiofrequency energy to the skin. Results include exfoliation and collagen formation, along with better texture, skin tone and tightness.

Care After Professional Treatment   

Follow your dermatologist or esthetician’s instructions for best results after your appointment. Keep your skin clean and apply sunscreen every day. Avoid ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds. 

Finally, be patient! Results may not be immediate, and some acne scar treatments require multiple sessions for best effectiveness.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you need personalized care for acne scars, schedule an appointment with Cayce Medical Spa. 
We encourage you to book an initial consultation first, so our team can perform a thorough analysis of your skin. Based on your results, we will recommend the best treatments for getting the results you’re looking for. Give us a call at 573-234-6930 if you have any questions.

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