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Best Acne Scar Removal Methods NYC

Treatment for hypertrophic acne scars, atrophic scars, rolling scars, as well as icepick scars.

Acne vulgaris, also known as acne, is by far the most common skin condition in the U.S. today. Whether you are a teenager or an adult, you have likely experienced some form of acne breakout, or perhaps you’re experiencing a breakout right now. Acne itself is a frustrating skin condition and, for some, pesky red pimples can lead to permanent acne scarring on the face and body.

For many patients, acne scars are a source of discomfort and embarrassment, as these small marks can be a reminder of frustrating blemishes of the past. Most patients experience acne scars that are atrophic (depressed scars), and they can often develop red or brown discoloration. Some patients also experience hypertrophic scars (raised scars), such as keloids, that develop due to skin trauma where the acne lesions once were. Thankfully, the world of dermatology has developed a wide variety of treatments to not only calm active acne breakouts, but also reduce the appearance of acne scars on the face, back, and other areas of the body. Procedures like laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, microneedling, microdermabrasion, and topical treatment options can all help to reduce the appearance of acne scars and help patients restore their skin.

If you’re struggling with the appearance of acne scars on the skin, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green is here to help. Dr. Green is is an expert in NYC in the cosmetic treatment of acne breakouts, acne scars, skin care, subcision, dermal fillers, Fraxel® laser, microneedling with PRP, V-Beam® laser, Vivace®, radiofrequency lasers, and eMatrix® laser. She has over two decades of experience in treating all skin tones, removing dark spots and blemishes, and initiating the healing process. Dr. Green will help recommend the best skin care products and treatments to improve your skin texture, pigment, and the appearance of your acne scars.

Woman treated with acne scars treatment - eMatrix

eMatrix for acne scars

How to Remove an Acne Scar

There are a variety of different acne scars that can all be treated through non-invasive procedures and topical treatments. For patients who experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a mild discoloration that develops once an active acne breakout subsides, the removal process is quite simple. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a temporary discoloration of the skin, and therefore can disappear on its own. Treatment for this form of acne scar typically involves a combination of topical treatments, over-the-counter skin care products, and prescription bleaching creams. However, in-office procedures like chemical peels, Cosmelan peels, and microneedling can vastly expedite the reduction of this type of pigment on the skin.

For patients with atrophic scars like icepick scars, boxcar scars, or rolling scars, the acne scar removal process may be more involved, as the skin typically requires additional collagen production and resurfacing in order to fully remove the scar. For atrophic scars, patients can typically rely on acne scar treatments such as laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, microneedling, and dermal fillers to reduce the appearance of scars and improve overall skin texture. Atrophic scars are the most common form of acne scar that Dr. Green treats in her boutique Upper East Side dermatology office, as these types of acne scars are more prominent amongst current and former acne sufferers.

For patients who are seeking treatment for raised scars like keloids, Dr. Green has found great success at reducing scar tissue through the use of steroid injections, and rejuvenating the skin through a series of VBeam laser treatments. Additionally, further skin texture and skin tone improvements can be achieved for any type of acne scar through the use of a regular skin care routine that includes nourishing serums, hyaluronic acids, hydroxy acids, as well as a gentle cleanser, non-comedogenic moisturizer, and daily sunscreen of SPF 50 or higher.

Acne Scar Removal with Laser Treatments

The eMatrix, Fraxel, Vivace, and V-Beam Lasers are some of the most effective lasers for improving the appearance of acne scars and redness. Laser resurfacing techniques, such as those used by the eMatrix, Fraxel, and V-Beam lasers, all rely on targeted energy to boost collagen production deep within the layers of the dermis. Laser treatments have become a popular method to remove acne scars, particularly when it comes to scars that previously were removed through dermabrasion.

With modern technology, laser resurfacing has become a popular method to not only reduce the appearance of atrophic scarring on the skin, but also reduce the appearance of pigmentation and fine lines. Through targeted treatments, laser resurfacing can help to boost cell turnover on the surface of the skin while restoring collagen production in order to improve the health of the skin overall. This process can reduce the appearance of acne scars in as little as a single treatment for some patients. When relying on laser resurfacing for acne scars, it’s important to work with an expert dermatologist, like Dr. Michele Green in NYC, who can determine the best treatment for your scar type and skin type. Dr. Green has vast experience with laser skin resurfacing for a variety of patient needs, and can work with you to help determine the safest and most effective laser treatment for you.

The V-Beam laser is considered the “gold standard” for treating redness and red acne scars. Both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne conditions are proven to be reduced with VBeam laser treatments. The V-Beam laser treatment relies on pulsed dye light energy which is converted to heat when it reaches the skin. This energy is able to move through the surface of the skin and into the middle layer of the dermis. Through this method, only the targeted areas of the skin are affected, and this helps the V-Beam laser to treat issues of redness and discoloration on the skin. Additionally, the V-Beam laser is an effective treatment for a variety of skin types, sensitive skin, and atrophic and hypertrophic scars. With the V-Beam laser, a series of 4 to 6 treatments given at monthly intervals is usually all it takes to reduce the appearance of acne scars. Inflammatory acne lesions are reduced by an average of 85% and non-inflammatory lesions by approximately 70% – and the appearance of acne scars and skin redness is improved. The skin is rejuvenated and redness is reduced without any downtime or discomfort.

The Fraxel laser provides one of most effective treatment options for atrophic acne scars. Fraxel laser treatments rely on two different wavelengths to offer precise treatment of dark spots on the skin, as well as issues of skin texture such as acne scarring. In only 4 or 5 sessions with the Fraxel Dual laser, acne scars will be significantly improved. The procedure takes less than an hour, and side effects are typically incredibly mild, just slight inflammation or redness for the first 48 hours post-treatment. The benefit of fractionated technology is that only a fraction of the skin is resurfaced, which allows the skin to heal quickly without significant downtime. Since microscopic laser energy bursts are precisely delivered to the skin, the healthy skin between these tiny dots remains untouched, ensuring fast results after each laser treatment.

ematrix laser for acne scars 

The eMatrix RF laser is a great solution for skin resurfacing and acne removal. Since the eMatrix is “color blind”, it is highly effective for all skin tones, including Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, and Hispanic skin types, all of which are very sensitive and prone to hyperpigmentation. The eMatrix works by heating the skin through radiofrequency technology and delivers heat deep within the dermis to remodel and form new collagen in the skin. This new collagen allows the skin to heal and reduce acne scars after just a few treatments. The eMatrix laser has minimal downtime, with some redness and peeling for up to 48 hours.

Chemical Peels for Acne Scars

Chemical peels are a highly successful method to reduce the appearance of acne scars. Chemical peels use the topical application of a peeling agent to peel away the topmost layer of the dermis, helping to remove dead skin cells and imperfections from the skin and revealing new, healthy skin underneath. Chemical peels can be used to treat unwanted pigment, active acne lesions, and acne scars. When it comes to treatment for acne, glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and alpha hydroxy acid can all be used in gentle concentrations. After a chemical peel, the skin will typically appear red and sensitive, but the healing process is brief and patients will typically experience smoother, restored skin in a matter of days.

Chemical peels are safe to use on all types of scars, and some formulations are particularly beneficial for specific types of acne scars. For example, for patients dealing with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, Dr. Green can combine a traditional chemical peel with various strength hydroquinones to brighten the skin. Through repeated chemical treatments paced four to six weeks apart, patients can reduce the appearance of deeper scars and discoloration. While undergoing chemical peel treatment, it’s important that patients use a daily sunscreen of SPF 50 or higher in order to prevent damage to healthy new skin.

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Sculptra and Restylane – 3 months before and after

Trichloroacetic Acid Peels for Acne

For those with mild to moderate acne and acne scars, trichloroacetic acid peels quickly and gently exfoliate dead cells on the surface layer of the skin and prevent further acne outbreaks. Acne-prone skin usually has a slower rate of natural exfoliation, which provides an opportunity for clogged and enlarged pores to cause nodular acne, whiteheads and blackheads. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels promote new skin cell growth and remove these dead and damaged cells, giving your skin a healthier glow.

TCA Cross for acne scars

The TCA Cross chemical peels process is an strong option to treat atrophic scars, particularly ice pick scars. In this process, a high TCA concentration of between 30-100% is applied directly to each acne scar with a fine needle. Though this process is effective in removing ice pick scars, it’s only recommended for patients with paler skin types. Patients with darker skin tones would risk discoloration (hyperpigmentation or a loss of pigment) when using this high level of trichloroacetic acid. For patients with darker skin tones, Dr. Green typically recommends using gentler chemical peel formulations, V-Beam or eMatrix laser treatment, dermal fillers, or microneedling, to treat acne scars.

Dermal Fillers for Acne Scars

Dermal fillers can often be a successful method to reduce the appearance of a depressed scar. Dermal fillers work to boost volume at and around the injection site by igniting collagen production. This in turn is able to reduce the appearance of atrophic acne scarring and create a smooth, youthful look to the skin. Dermal fillers are also effective at reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin, creating pan-facial rejuvenation.

Dr. Green offers a variety of options for treatment with dermal fillers to make sure you’re getting the right solution to meet your appearance goals. These dermal fillers include hyaluronic acid fillers, which rely on a naturally occurring substance in the body, as well as poly-L-lactic acid and calcium hydroxylapatite dermal fillers, to boost new collagen growth and reduce the appearance of acne scars. These dermal fillers include:

  • Belotero Balance — One of the newer hyaluronic acid fillers, Belotero Balance replaces lost hyaluronic acid (HA) caused by the natural aging process, filling in deep wrinkles. Its unique properties offer soft, even correction throughout the face.
  • Juvederm — Dr. Green was one of the first doctors in New York to begin incorporating Juvederm treatments into her practice. This advanced formulation of hyaluronic acid (HA) can be used for deep lines and wrinkles, and results can last up to 12 months.
  • Juvederm Voluma — Juvederm Voluma is designed to help restore youthful contours by plumping up the cheeks and chin where the aging process has caused volume loss. This advanced formulation of hyaluronic acid (HA) can last up to 18 months.
  • Radiesse — Radiesse is an injectable filler made of calcium hydroxyapatite, which replenishes the lost collagen under your skin and promotes an increase of natural collagen production for lasting results.
  • Restylane — Restylane is specially formulated to repopulate the loss of hyaluronic acid (HA) that is partially responsible for the appearance of aging and the development of wrinkles.
  • Restylane Contour is one of Restylane’s newest hyaluronic acid dermal filler formulations, which contains advanced cross-linking technology to create a smooth skin texture, helping to correct imperfections such as acne scars. It’s a popular option for patients looking to restore volume in the cheeks and midface, with results that last up to a full year.
  • Restylane Lyft — Restylane Lyft, formerly called Perlane, is an HA filler that adds fullness and volume in order to correct deep lines and wrinkles. However, since Perlane uses larger particles, this treatment is ideal for deeper injections, especially around the nasolabial folds.
  • Sculptra — Sculptra is a safe, effective dermal filler that combines the immediate results of other fillers offered from our New York practice, while simultaneously boosting the skin’s natural collagen production to help results last even longer.

Microneedling for Acne Scars

Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is an excellent option to treat acne scars. Microneedling uses tiny pinpricks to the skin to activate the wound-healing properties of the body, which can spark new collagen growth in the treatment area. This in turn rejuvenates the layers of skin in the treatment area and helps to heal the skin cells of the acne scar. Microneedling is also able to reverse the skin’s natural memory of acne scarring, which in turn can help to vastly reduce the appearance of acne scars in as little as one treatment.

Additionally, microneedling opens up micro-channels in the layers of the dermis, which can offer additional revitalization through the use of nourishing serums and growth factors. One treatment that takes advantage of these micro-channels is PRP Microneedling. This process uses a concentration of platelet-rich plasma to revitalize the skin. By using the growth factors and proteins in your own blood, Dr. Green is able to improve cell growth and restoration on the surface of the skin, helping to reduce your acne scars and create a hydrated, smooth skin texture.

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RF Microneedling with Vivace for Acne Scar Treatment

Vivace RF Microneedling is a new innovation that combines the application of radiofrequency energy with microneedling in order to maximize skin rejuvenation. Through this combination, patients are able to receive the best of both treatments: collagen induction and wound-healing activation on the top layers of the dermis, and targeted heating and collagen production in the deeper layers of the dermis. These two components of Vivace RF Microneedling are able to quickly and effectively treat acne scars with virtually no downtime, leaving the skin smooth and firm.

Microdermabrasion for acne scar removal

Microdermabrasion is a mild form of dermabrasion (removal of the outer layer of skin) that can reduce mild acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles, as well as stimulate collagen and elastin production with no recovery time. Our New York practice uses the latest in diamond microdermabrasion technology to reveal the healthy skin beneath the dry surface cells that dull your complexion. After microdermabrasion, the epidermis begins to rapidly produce new cells, and this deeper layer of skin thickens due to the resulting increase in collagen production. In effect, microdermabrasion damages the skin in order to promote healing and produce younger and more luminous skin.

For optimal results, Dr. Green recommends four to six microdermabrasion treatments every two to four weeks. Dr. Green combines microdermabrasion with her fabulous Oxygen facial to give you the best results. After the application of special serums and minerals, Oxygen is infused into the skin to give you an immediate glow. Over time, your skin will look younger and your skin tone will be more even.

Acne scar treatment with patients with darker skin tones

For patients with darker skin tones, Dr. Green highly recommends the eMatrix laser to treat acne scars. The eMatrix laser is a gentle laser that is safe to use on all skin types without increasing a patient’s risk of discoloration or hyperpigmentation. As it uses radiofrequency energy to heat the dermis, its process is not pigment-based, and it’s able to safely stimulate new collagen formation. Over a series of five eMatrix laser sessions spaced about a month apart, patients can experience full acne scar removal and improved skin texture.

Treating dark marks from acne

One common aspect to acne scars is that of dark spots that remain on the surface of the skin after an acne breakout subsides. This discoloration can appear as small, flat red or brown marks on the skin, commonly referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or as red or darkened atrophic or hypertrophic scars. In the case of discoloration, Dr. Green typically recommends a combination of Cosmelan, chemical peels and retinoids and hydroquinone creams, to brighten and smooth the skin. It’s good to note that the use of some intensive lasers can exacerbate issues of hyperpigmentation or melasma among patients with darker skin types, so Dr. Green recommends caution when engaging with laser resurfacing for dark spots. When you work with Dr. Green, she will make sure your treatment plan protects your skin from any additional unwanted pigmentation.

Resurfacing treatments for acne scars

One approach to treat acne scars is the use of the carbon dioxide (CO2) resurfacing laser, which is an ablative laser that can help to treat skin imperfections like warts, wrinkles, and acne scars. This ablative laser approach uses a high-energy light beam to create small injuries to the skin. This process engages the wound-healing properties of the body, helping with collagen and elastin production, and can help to remove atrophic scars on the skin. This process requires a short amount of downtime–one to two weeks in total–while the skin heals itself.

This skin resurfacing method is more intensive that a fractional laser treatment, such as the Fraxel Dual laser approach. Fraxel Dual is non-ablative, which means that it targets specific areas of the dermis without disturbing the skin around the treatment area. Non-ablative lasers tend to be the more popular than ablative laser resurfacing, as they require no downtime and patients can resume normal activity immediately post-treatment. However, either approach may be right for you, depending on your individual needs and goals.

How to Remove Scars from Acne Breakouts

When treating acne scars while patients are experiencing active acne lesions, it’s important to treat the active acne breakout to prevent further acne scars from forming. Treatments such as chemical peels, acne facials, Hydrafacials, and Blu-U Photodynamic Therapy for acne and acne scars can all help to simultaneously treat acne lesions and acne scars.

Acne facials use a combination of surface cleansing, microdermabrasion or glycolic acid application, and steam and extraction to reduce dead skin cells and unclog pores. After this process, a purifying mask filled with nourishing antioxidants and vitamin E is applied, followed by cleansing oxygen. This facial is able to treat acne lesions, reduce discoloration on the skin, and prevent the future likelihood of acne breakouts and acne scar development.

The Hydrafacial is a medical-grade, FDA-approved facial that is able to treat acne blemishes and acne scars. It uses an Active-4 cleanser, gentle acid peel, extraction process, and hydrating application of nourishing serums to clear clogged pores and remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Through repeated Hydrafacial sessions, patients can experience revitalized, clearer skin, which can help smooth the skin and reduce future acne breakouts.

Blu-U Photodynamic Therapy is a blue light therapy that eliminates acne-causing bacteria, reduces oil production on the skin, and lessens irritation and redness caused by acne breakouts and acne scars. Blu-U treatment sessions are typically only 15 minute sessions twice a week, with virtually no downtime. Plus, Blu-U Photodynamic therapy can be used in tandem with other laser resurfacing treatments, such as the V-Beam laser, to optimize acne scar treatment.

Acne Scar Removal Products

One of the best ways to reduce the appearance of acne scars is through the use of skin care products that can help to reinvigorate the look and feel of the skin, boosting cell turnover and in turn reducing the appearance of acne scars. In general, it’s best to look for active ingredients such as retinoids (Vitamin-A derivatives) and alpha hydroxy acids that increase the speed of cell turnover and help to form new collagen. Dr. Green’s MGSKINLABS offers an Essential Antioxidant Infusion that combines Retinol and other essential skin vitamins to reduce the appearance fine lines and scars.

Additionally, Dr. Green recommends pairing a retinol or retinoid at night with the use of a topical Vitamin-C serum during the day, such as MGSKINLABS Vita-C Serum, or Skinceutical’s Vitamin C Serum with Ferulic acid. These can be combined with a gentle cleanser, non-comedogenic moisturizer, and daily sunscreen to create a healthy skin routine that can help to heal and prevent future acne scars and breakouts.

Acne Scar Removal Cream

When it comes to removing acne scars that have discoloration, it’s best to apply brightening serums, such as Vitamin-C based serums or prescription hydroquinones. Additionally, one of the best ways to prevent acne scars is to carefully treat acne as it develops. MGSKINLABS offers a three-step at-home acne fighting treatment to cleanse, exfoliate, and spot-treat acne lesions.

Acne Scar Removal on the Back

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, raised scars, such as keloids, are more common on the back and chest than elsewhere on the body. To treat raised scars, Dr. Green recommends the use of steroid injections, targeted chemical peels, or V-Beam laser treatment sessions. These treatments, either used individually or combined in a treatment plan, can all help to reduce the appearance of acne scars on the back.

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Face Acne Scar Removal

For acne scar removal on the face, Dr. Green usually recommends a combination of in-office and at-home skincare treatment to ensure the most effective treatment plan. For patients seeking acne scar removal on the face, it’s important to acknowledge the sensitive nature of facial tissue, which is why Dr. Green will almost always recommend non-invasive treatment methods over surgical procedures such as punch excision (full removal of the scar) or subcision (releasing the scar from its connection to the deeper layers of the skin). Non-invasive methods such as topical treatments, chemical peels, and microneedling are all highly effective at reducing and removing acne scars without lengthy downtime or a risk of further scarring.

Wellness and Natural Methods for Acne Scar Removal

To enhance acne scar removal, there are simple daily skin regimens that can help to reduce acne scar appearance. Some scars, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, can even go away on their own. However, for most patients, over-the-counter skincare products are unlikely to provide optimal results, and patients can benefit from a custom tailored treatment plan that combines topical treatment with in-office procedures. Additionally, when it comes to natural remedies like apple cider vinegar or coconut oil, acne scars are unlikely to benefit, as collagen needs to be re-formed or newly produced in the treatment area in order to fully remove any acne scarring.

How Much Does Acne Scar Removal Cost?

The answer to how much is acne scar removal will vary widely depending on the severity of the acne scars, type of treatment selected, size of the treatment area, and the individual needs and goals of each patient. When you work with Dr. Green, she’ll be able to carefully examine your current skin condition, medical history, and desired outcomes to determine a treatment plan that balances your needs and budget.

What is the best method for Acne Scar Removal?

When it comes to reducing the appearance of acne scars, there is no one best treatment to remove acne scarring, but there are highly effective, FDA-approved methods that Dr. Green offers at her boutique UES practice. For patients with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, patients may benefit from chemical peels and topical treatments. Patients with atrophic acne scars regularly benefit from microneedling, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser treatments. If patents are concerned with hypertrophic scars, steroid injections combined with laser skin resurfacing can be highly effective. When you work with Dr. Green, she’ll be able to carefully examine your current skin condition to determine which treatments will be right for you.

How do I get rid of acne scars today?

If you’re frustrated by the appearance of acne scars, there are solutions that can help. Whether you are struggling with atrophic scars, hypertrophic scars, or discoloration due to acne scarring, Dr. Green can work with you to help you look and feel like the best version of yourself. Dr. Michele Green is an expert in cosmetic dermatology, and in treating acne scars. With over two decades of experience in treating acne and acne scars, she is consistently voted as one of the best dermatologists in NYC by Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, The New York Times, and New York Magazine.  Please call our office today at 212-535-3088 or contact us online to develop your custom treatment plan with Dr. Michele S. Green.

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