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The majority of people experience an acne breakout at one point or another. The American Academy of Dermatology has identified acne as one of the most common skin conditions seeking treatments around the world. While a pimple or a breakout is frustrating enough on its own, it can be even more difficult to deal with the aftermath – acne scars. Acne scars may present in varying textures and shades, but they all share a common denominator, and that is that acne scars can be even more challenging to resolve than the acne itself. Luckily, with the help of board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Michele Green, it is possible to eliminate acne scars and achieve a clear, smooth, even-toned complexion with long-lasting results.

In the field of cosmetic dermatology there are constantly technological advancements being made. Thanks to developing technology, there is now a wide range of cutting edge laser treatments available to choose from that target skin concerns such as acne and acne scarring. Dr. Michele Green is a world renowned expert when it comes to treating acne and diminishing the appearance of acne scars, with over 25 years of experience treating some of the most discerning men and women from around the globe from her private medical office in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She is consistently identified as one of the best dermatologists by Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, and New York Magazine. Patients flock to her practice in New York City because of the phenomenal cosmetic results she provides.

As an expert cosmetic, board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Green uses the most cutting edge modalities to treat acne scars including dermal fillerschemical peels, Fraxel laser, VBeam laser, subcision, microneedling, and eMatrix laser, among a number of other treatment options. When you work with Dr. Green to reduce the appearance of your acne scars, she will create a customized treatment plan that is best suited to your unique skin situation. When it comes to effectively minimizing acne scars, a combination treatment approach using multiple treatment modalities is generally needed to produce the best cosmetic results and leave patients with a smooth, clear, lasting, healthy looking complexion.

Acne treatment before laser treatment

One of the most important principles in treating acne scars, according to Dr. Green, is ensuring that your acne breakouts are first under control before commencing laser treatments. It is important to consider whether or not you are having a continued pattern of acne flares before initiating acne scar laser treatment. If your acne is still flaring, despite good topical skincare, exfoliating creams, retinoids, and antibiotic treatments, Spironolactone, oral contraceptives, or other medications, Dr. Green may suggest Accutane therapy. Accutane (Isotretinoin) treatment for acne is the gold standard for treating recalcitrant acne and preventing further acne scars and discoloration. Once your acne is permanently cured, you can begin the process of treating your acne scars with laser treatment. One important consideration with Isotretinoin therapy is that it will delay your laser treatments for acne scarring by six to twelve months, depending on the modality selected. Ideally, the acne is resolved prior to beginning treatment for acne scars in order to make the most of your acne scar treatments and prevent the formation of new acne scars.

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3 eMatrix treatments and 3 vbeam laser treatments

Laser treatment for acne scarring

Lasers have been a boon for dermatology for skin brightening, lightning, tightening, and boosting collagen in the skin. Laser treatments are perhaps one of the best modalities for treating acne scars. There is no specific optimal treatment method for minimizing acne scars since there are no two acne scars which are exactly alike. Deciding on the best laser treatment for your acne scars depends in large part on both your skin type and the type of acne scarring involved. Since acne scars may leave you red, hyperpigmented with uneven discoloration and textural changes, a combination of lasers or treatment modalities is often necessary to address all of these aspects. From radiofrequency to microneedling, dermal fillers, pulsed dye lasers, and Fraxel laser, it takes an acne scar expert, like Dr. Michele Green, to create the best treatment plan for you.

Acne scar treatment with lasers

There are many different types of acne scars, from atrophic scars, boxcar scars, rolling scars, icepick scars, and keloid or raised scars. The treatment for atrophic scars, including boxcar, ice pick, and rolling scars, involves reducing the depth of the scar and resurfacing the texture of the skin. Strict volume replacement is done with either a hyaluronic acid filler, such as Juvederm® or Restylane®, or a collagen stimulating injection such as Sculptra®. Laser technology can be used to stimulate neocollagenesis, or the formation of new collagen, in the skin. The following lasers are some of the best acne scar laser treatments which Dr. Michele Green suggests:

Fraxel Laser Treatment

The Fraxel laser has dual treatment parameters, with the 1927 and 1550 wavelengths to treat both sun-damaged skin, skin texture and acne scars, respectively. The 1927 wavelength is a “magic eraser” at removing brown pigment and discoloration. The Fraxel laser is the gold standard of fractionated laser resurfacing, with the 1550 wavelength, the most effective setting in evening out skin texture, fine lines, and acne scars. This non-ablative fractionated laser uses microscopic laser columns that penetrate deep into the skin to increase the body’s remodeling of collagen. Since the Fraxel laser only uses a fraction of tissue at time, it leaves the surrounding tissue untreated and intact, which leads to rapid healing of the treatment area with very little recovery time. Sunscreen use is always an important part of the after care process after any laser treatment, to minimize sun exposure to the treatment area, prevent hyperpigmentation or redness, and allow the healing process to occur.

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Clear and Brilliant Laser

Clear and Brilliant laser, also known as the “mini-Fraxel,” is a great solution for patients who want the benefits of the Fraxel without any down time. This gentle fractional laser technology allows treatment of targeted areas of your face in order to achieve smooth and even results without any redness or recovery. It is the ideal treatment for enlarged pores and to rejuvenate the texture of the skin with just 5 to 6 sessions spaced two weeks apart. Dr. Green utilizes both the Clear and Brilliant laser and the Permea handpiece, which is designed for sun damage and areas of pigment, sun damage, and melasma. However, for deeper acne scars, one of the other laser options such as Fraxel® or Ematrix™ would have increased benefits.

VBeam laser treatment for acne and acne scars

The Vbeam® laser is the “gold standard” for treating facial redness, broken blood vessels, and rosacea. The Vbeam is a pulsed dye laser that sends concentrated light energy directly into the target area without and damage to surrounding tissue. Ideally, treatments are scheduled at monthly intervals, and a series of 4 to 5 treatments will reduce redness from acne and acne scars. Dr. Green utilizes the VBeam Perfecta, which is the latest VBeam laser, to treat sun spots as well as unwanted redness. The VBeam laser is especially good at treating keloid or raised scars as well. There is no recovery time with the VBeam laser, and the laser treatment can be done in 15 minutes, during your lunch break. The V-Beam is also highly effective at treating hemangiomas, leg veins, and stretch marks, leg veins, angiomas, inflammatory acne lesions, and surgical scars.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy, also known as a Photofacial, is a way to improve both the redness, pigmentation, and texture of your skin. IPL treats photo-aging, acne scars, skin tone and increase collagen production. Unlike lasers, which use a single wavelength of light, the IPL can use more than one wavelength of pulsating light, to treat many different skin conditions at the same time. It can treat redness, hyperpigmentation, and discoloration from acne scars. Melasma, however, should not be treated with the IPL (or Fraxel laser), as this can cause a worsening of pigment and ultimately make the cosmetic correction of melasma more difficult.

PRP and Microneedling for acne scars

Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is an alternative to laser treatment for acne scarring. Microneedling is a skin rejuvenation process which creates micro-perforations in the skin, which allows for PRP, peptides, or growth factors, to be infused into the skin, and promote the growth of collagen, elastic and new healthy skin. In PRP, a small aliquot of blood is  taken from your own body, centrifuged, and the PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) is separated out. Since the PRP is processed from one’s own blood, there is no risk of allergic reaction or rejection. This PRP is then applied to your skin during the microneedling procedure. The microneedling process opens up pathways to the deeper layers of skin, and helps smooth out wrinkles, fine lines, tone, texture, and acne scars. Microneedling also has the potential to increase the absorbency of your favorite skin care products by creating micro channels within the skin, allowing for greater penetration.

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eMatrix Sublative Rejuvenation

eMatrix laser utilizes bipolar radiofrequency energy to heat the skin below the surface, while not affecting the top layer of the skin. The eMatrix laser is considered the gold standard for treating acne scars in Asian patients and those patients with darker skin tones. Through radiofrequency heat, new collagen tissue is stimulated, acne scars are reduced, and younger, healthier-looking new skin cells are formed. A series of 4 to 6 monthly treatments of eMatrix are generally required for the best cosmetic results. With the production of new collagen, acne scars are reduced, and younger and healthier-looking skin is formed.

CO2 laser treatment for acne scars

Ablative resurfacing lasers, such as carbon dioxide CO2 lasers, remove the entire top layer of the skin in the area where you have acne scarring. At the same time, the laser heats up the underlying dermal layer of the skin, stimulating new collagen production in the treated area. This laser treatment is more aggressive than a non-ablative laser, such as Fraxel laser, with an increased recovery time. With non-ablative skin resurfacing lasers like Fraxel, the laser beam creates precise and controlled micro-injuries to a targeted treatment area, while leaving the surrounding skin untouched. Non-ablative lasers do not remove the top layer of skin like ablative lasers do. CO2 lasers promote collagen remodeling, produce improved skin tone and texture, skin tightening, and are commonly used for treating deeper lines and wrinkles as well. There is a considerable amount of downtime associated with CO2 laser treatment compared to non-ablative skin resurfacing laser treatments such as Fraxel.

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CO2 treatment before, immediately after, 3 days and 7 days

Which areas of the body can be treated with a laser for acne scars?

Acne breakouts can occur anywhere on the body where there are sebaceous glands, most commonly it is found on the face, chest, arms, neck, buttocks, and back. Since inflammatory acne can affect a number of different areas of the body, it is entirely possible to develop an acne scar in any of those areas. Any of the laser treatments that Dr. Green utilizes to diminish the appearance of acne scars on the face can also be used to treat the acne scars that may develop on other areas of the body.

Are there side effects to laser acne scar treatment?

Some of the most common side effects of having a laser treatment for acne scars are listed below:

  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Skin infection
  • Swelling
  • Discomfort
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypopigmentation (white spots)
  • Scarring
  • Pain
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight

How do I prepare for acne scar laser treatment?

Ahead of an appointment for acne scar laser treatment, Dr. Green recommends that her patients adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Avoid tanning or self tanners for several weeks before treatment
  • Refrain from smoking for at least two weeks prior to treatment
  • Discontinue the use of topicals that could increase skin sensitivity such as Retin-A or Retinols for at least one week before having treatment
  • Discontinue the use of any medications that act as blood thinners, and stop the use of aspirin, vitamins, and supplements that may increase propensity for developing bruises for at least two weeks before having a laser treatment for acne scar removal
  • Pre-treat with the medication Valtrex if you have a history of oral herpes or cold sores

Do all lasers work on different skin types?

Despite significant advancements that have been made when it comes to cosmetic laser skin resurfacing technology, not all laser treatments are equally safe and effective for use on every skin type. There are many different types of lasers and not all lasers are best for use in every skin type. Patients with skin types four or greater on the Fitzpatrick scale, with darker skin tones, have increased sensitivity to lasers and special caution must be treating these patients. Dr. Green is an expert in treating darker skin tones, especially Asian patients, with laser treatments. Lasers which utilize radiofrequency heat, such as Thermage, eMatrix, Vivace, are “color blind” lasers, and the epidermal layer is bypassed and protected from discoloration with these laser treatments. These types of lasers are generally safer with most skin tones and treat the deeper layers of the skin, protecting the epidermal or top layer of the skin.

Other laser skin resurfacing treatments, such as carbon dioxide, or even fractionated carbon dioxide lasers need to be used on lower settings with patients with darker skin types. There is no “one size fits all” treatment for acne scars. Before the advent of Fraxel and radiofrequency lasers, patients relied only on dermabrasion and CO2 laser treatments for acne scar treatment. Both of these procedures are extremely ablative and cannot be used on patents with darker skin tones without serious side effects.

Depending on the type of acne scar, different modalities are more appropriate. The choice of treatment really depends on all of the following: the type of scar, the severity of damage, the skin type, and acceptable recovery time. For example, ice pick scars require a different laser treatment from raised scars. Each different type of acne scar requires a different method of treatment, and this treatment always needs to be adjusted based on skin type.

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How much does acne scar laser treatment cost?

There are a number of factors that will impact the total cost of your non-ablative laser resurfacing treatment for acne scars. One of the first considerations to make when determining total cost of acne scar removal is the type of laser device that is being utilized for treatment. Laser treatments with fractionated technology typically cost, on average, around $1,500 per treatment. Radiofrequency laser treatments are usually similar in price to fractionated laser treatments. Vascular laser treatment sessions with devices such as the VBeam laser and Intense Pulsed Light technology typically fall within the price range of $700 to $1,000, depending on the area of the body being treated. The number of treatment sessions required to achieve the desired cosmetic results is another factor that will influence the total cost of laser acne scar removal. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to determine how many sessions a particular individual will require in order to get the results that they want since every patient has a unique response to laser treatment. Some individuals observe phenomenal results after a single treatment session, whereas others may need to have up to five sessions of laser treatment for acne scars to get the skin texture that they are after. The severity of the acne scarring can contribute to how many total treatment sessions are needed and ultimately have a large influence in the final cost of treatment.

Something else to consider when determining your budget for acne scar removal is the benefit of a combination treatment approach. Dr. Green often suggests that her patients with acne scars have intermittent subcision treatment sessions with dermal fillers in order to break up scar tissue and restore lost volume deep within the skin. The price for a treatment of subcision with dermal filler typically depends on the type of dermal filler that is used and the number of syringes that are used. Dr. Green frequently utilizes dermal filler products such as Restylane, Juvederm, and Sculptra to replace lost volume in tissue associated with acne scars. Since it can take a combination of several different modalities and treatments to improve the appearance of acne scars, it is crucial to consult an expert in treating acne scars, like Dr. Michele Green, to have the best cosmetic results.

How to choose the best acne scar removal treatment for you?

The world of cosmetic dermatology is constantly evolving, and with all of the different treatment methods that are available for erasing the appearance of acne scars it may feel overwhelming to try and determine which are best suited to you and your unique skin situation. It is critical to consult a board certified dermatologist with the experience and expertise, such as Dr. Michele Green in New York City, to safely and effectively minimize the appearance of your acne scars with laser treatment. With any cosmetic procedure for acne scars there are potential risks and side effects associated with treatment. However, when you entrust an experienced medical professional with your laser therapy treatments, the risk of developing unwanted potential side effects from treatment is greatly reduced.

Dr. Green has been practicing cosmetic dermatology artfully and skillfully in New York for over two and a half decades, is board certified by the American Academy of dermatology, and is an expert when it comes to acne and acne scar treatment. If you are struggling with the appearance of acne scars and are in the process of selecting a health care provider for the cosmetic treatment of your acne scars, take some time to research each physician you may consult with. View the gallery of before and after acne scar treatment photos to gauge your expectations and become familiar with what kind of results a provider is able to deliver. There is a myriad of acne scar laser treatments to choose from including YAG lasers, Pulse Dye Laser, Fraxel and Erbium lasers among others. Consulting with an expert like Dr. Green is ultimately the best way to learn about which acne scar removal method would be ideal for treating your acne scars.

SF 6 Months Before and After Accutane ANGLER MGWatermark

6 months – accutane before and after

Does acne scar laser treatment work? 

Of course! Acne scar laser treatment works to treat the appearance of acne scars so that they are much less noticeable. Laser treatment is an effective way to treat acne scarring, and stimulate new collagen to allow these acne scars to heal. The new new collagen which is produced helps to remodel these acne scars, giving the skin an overall smoother appearance. Since collagen regeneration can take several months, the process is a gradual one, and can take many months to see the full cosmetic results from laser treatment. Dr. Green will help create a unique treatment plan for your specific type of acne scars, and replace the injured skin with new rejuvenated, healthy skin.

Does microneedling permanently remove acne scars?

Microneedling treatments can be an effective way to achieve long-lasting results when it comes to permanently reducing the appearance of acne scars, and particularly with atrophic acne scars. Microneedling, also referred to as collagen induction therapy, works by creating micro injuries in the epidermis of the skin which stimulates the body’s natural wound healing process. The damaged tissue that is associated with acne scarring is essentially broken up and the process results in kickstarting collagen production within the skin. By increasing collagen production the elasticity of skin is improved and lost volume is restored, creating a smoother and more even skin texture. The majority of patients experience drastic changes to the appearance of their acne scars as well as a permanent improvement in the look and the feel of their skin.

Can laser treatment remove acne scars?

Laser treatment can significantly reduce the appearance of acne scars on the skin as well as effectively minimize any pain, discomfort, or itching sensation that may be caused by the scar. Laser treatment cannot, however, completely remove an acne scar. Laser treatments for acne scars achieve exactly what they are designed to do, which is diminish the appearance of the scar to make it much less noticeable. Laser treatments for acne scars work by inducing the natural wound healing process of the skin, stimulating the production of new collagen and elastin in the treated area. Essentially, when having a laser treatment for acne scars, the laser is effectively replacing the acne scar with a more inconspicuous scar that is more even in tone and texture with the surrounding skin. The result is a complexion that is smooth and clear.

Does acne scar laser treatment hurt?

For any of her patients who are having a laser treatment for the appearance of acne scars, Dr. Green will send a prescription for a topical numbing cream to the pharmacy of their choice. One hour before the scheduled appointment time, patients are advised to apply a thick layer of the numbing cream to clean skin to the entire area to be treated. By using a topical numbing cream in advance of the laser treatment appointment, patients are comfortable throughout the duration of the procedure. Laser treatment for acne scars can be mildly irritating and produce a stinging or tingling sensation or cause skin to feel hot. Any discomfort is very minimal thanks to the use of the topical numbing cream and typically does not last beyond the procedure itself.

JYZ 28 yo female before and after acne treatment RIGHT MGWatermark

28 year old female before and after acne scar treatment

Can acne scars come back after laser treatment?

Dr. Green always emphasizes to her patients the importance of treating acne breakouts before starting to treat the appearance of acne scars in order to prevent the development of any new acne scars. Controlling any active acne breakouts prior to beginning treatment for acne scars will greatly reduce the likelihood of experiencing any acne scars after having laser treatment. In addition, if sufficient treatment is performed in an effective manner, acne scars should not reappear after having laser skin resurfacing treatments for acne scars. While the cosmetic results of laser treatment will be dependent on the severity of the scars and the skin response to laser, the effects of a laser treatment for acne scars should be permanent.

How long does acne scar laser treatment take?

When it comes to the duration of a single acne scar laser treatment session, the procedure itself generally takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Keep in mind that Dr. Green advises patients who are coming for laser treatment for acne scars to apply a topical numbing medication to the treatment area one hour before their appointment time in order to minimize discomfort during the procedure. In terms of the total number of sessions of laser treatment which are required to produce the desired cosmetic results of the patient, it may depend on several factors that can influence how long treatment takes. Some of the contributing factors include the degree of the acne scarring and the type of laser that is being performed. Many patients are able to achieve the results that they are looking for after having between three and five laser treatments for acne scars. The process of completely improving the appearance of acne scars can take up to two years and expectations should be practicable when planning your treatment with laser for acne scars.

Is acne scar laser treatment worth it?

For many patients who have struggled with acne breakouts in the past, diminishing the appearance of their acne scars with laser treatment is absolutely worth it. Acne scars can be a painful and frustrating reminder of their battle with acne and contribute to feelings of self-consciousness and a low self-esteem. That said, having laser treatment for acne scars is an investment in self care that many patients deem incredibly valuable as it restores their confidence and helps them to look and feel their best. Something to keep in mind is that each individual patient may respond to acne scar laser treatment in a unique way. Since no patient develops acne scars in the same way and no two acne scars are identical to each other, the total number of laser treatments necessary to completely diminish the appearance of the acne scars will vary from person to person.

How do I get started with acne scar laser treatment?

Although acne breakouts and acne scarring are incredibly common, their presence can severely impact one’s self esteem and lead to feelings of self consciousness. It is possible to eliminate acne and improve the appearance of acne scars through a myriad of treatment options, many of which are offered in the boutique dermatology office of board certified expert, Dr. Michele Green, located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Treating the appearance of acne scars is a part of self care and wellness. Looking and feeling like the best versions of ourselves has the power to lead to the improvement of overall emotional health by helping to instill a sense of confidence. Dr. Michele Green is a world renowned cosmetic dermatologist with a special interest in treating patients with acne and acne scars.

In her practice, Dr. Green takes advantage of the most cutting edge laser skin resurfacing treatments, provides superlative medical advice, and recommends the best in specially formulated skin care to give her patients the best all-around care. She takes pride in the relationships that she develops with her patients and takes the time necessary to thoroughly understand the concerns and goals of those who seek treatment from her for their acne scars. When you choose to work with Dr. Green to eliminate your acne scars, she will provide you with a customized treatment approach that is catered to your unique skin situation and delivers the best cosmetic results. To schedule a consultation call 212-535-3088 or contact us online today to start on your journey to achieving clear, smooth, beautiful skin.

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