Acne can leave at least some residual scarring in 95% of patients, but Laser treatment can minimize the damage done, according to studies from the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy.
This approach breaks up scar tissues by focusing beams of light on the outer parts of a patient’s skin, which encourages the growth of new and healthy skin cells that fill in the small gaps. But, for those with very wrinkled or darker skin and active acne, this procedure is not always recommended, so it’s important to see a dermatologist first.
How Much Does the Procedure Cost?
Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t typically cover the costs of laser treatment for acne scars. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that ablative laser skin resurfacing costs around $2,000 out-of-pocket, and non-ablative costs $1,100. The total costs depend on a few different factors which include:
- How many scars you want to treat.
- The size of the area covered by treatment.
- The total number of treatments necessary.
- The level of experience your doctor has.
There’s no recovery time with this treatment, so you can go back to work within 48 hours or less.
It’s best to consult and compare offers from a couple of different doctors first, but keep in mind that you may have to pay for a consult to determine the best plan of approach.
How Does It Work?
First of all, the laser in this treatment targets scars by removing a thin layer from the top part of your skin, which then makes your skin look and feels smoother. Then, the growth of new and healthy skin is promoted when scar tissues are broken apart. As a result of the laser’s heat, blood flow is increased in the area which reduces inflammation.
Types of Laser Procedures for Acne Scarring
There are a couple of different lasers used in acne scar removal, including CO2 lasers, erbium YAG lasers, and pulsed-dye ones, all of which work a little bit differently.
Ablative Laser Resurfacing: A CO2 or erbium YAG laser is used with this method to completely remove a patient’s top layer of skin that presents with scarring. The subsequent redness takes 3 to 10 days to subside.
Non-Ablative laser Resurfacing: With non-ablative scar removal, doctors use an infrared laser to boost collagen production and the replacement of damaged and scarred skin through heat.
Fractionated Laser Treatment: Those with ice pick or boxcar scars should consider fractional laser treatment as it’s known to help with this type of scarring. The laser in fractionated treatment targets darker tissues beneath scars and the top layer of skin.
Which Parts of Your Body Are Suitable for Laser Treatment?
While lasers are mainly used to treat facial scarring, you could also use them in other areas with acne scarring such as your:
- Upper Torso.
Possible Side Effects and Risks of Laser Treatment
Some side effects are possible when using a laser to remove acne scars, but they vary based on the laser used, a patient’s skin, and the number of treatments required.
Common side effects might include:
- Localized pain.
- Slight swelling.
While pain subsides in a few hours, redness can take up to 10 days to pass.
Risks for this form of scar removal include infection and hyperpigmentation, but are very rare and easily preventable. However, if you experience a fever, excess swelling or pus, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
The crucial thing with cosmetic procedures is to be informed and have realistic expectations. Laser treatment doesn’t completely remove acne scars, but it does make them much less visible. Results are not apparent immediately but within 7-10 days
Moreover, you will have to take special care of your skin based on your doctor’s advice in the months following your procedure such as wearing sunscreen, avoiding makeup for a week, and not having any excess sun exposure for up to eight weeks.
How to Prepare for a Laser Treatment?
Sometimes lifestyle changes might be necessary to qualify for this procedure. To prepare, you might need to do the following:
- Stop taking blood thinners and aspirin for two weeks before your appointment.
- Stop smoking two weeks or more prior to the treatment.
- Stop using skin products with retinol two weeks before scar removal.
In certain cases, patients will also need to stop using acne medication and may have to take antibiotics if they tend to get cold sores.
- “Treating Acne Scars: What’s New?” US PMC, J. Clin Aesthet Dermatol, 8 August, 2015,
- “Efficacy of low-level laser therapy on scar tissue,” tandfonline, 22 April, 2013,
- “Laser Skin Resurfacing,” plastic surgeon match,
- “Collagen – What is it and What is it good for?” Healthline, Kerri-Ann Jennings, 9 September, 2016, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen