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Most of us have had to deal with acne breakouts at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, after an acne breakout, many of us are left with acne scars long after the acne has cleared up. The good news is that there is a wide range of new laser treatments for both acne and acne scarring which will remove these acne scars. Dr. Michele Green is an expert in treating acne scars for over 25 years in New York, and a specialist in laser treatments for acne scarring.

As a highly trained, board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Green uses the most cutting edge modalities to treat acne scars including dermal fillers, chemical peels, Fraxel laser, non-ablative lasers such as the VBeam laser, TCA cross, subcision (breaking up scar tissue beneath the scar), microneedling, eMatrix, and other treatment options. She will create a customized treatment plan that is best to reduce the appearance of your acne scars and improve your entire skin tone. A combination approach, of multiple treatment modalities, is generally needed to have the best cosmetic results to remove acne scars.

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.

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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 Isotrtinoin therapy is that it will delay your laser treatments for acne scarring by six to twelve months, depending on the modality selected.

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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 single treatment for 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 neo-collagenesis, 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.

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 the Photo facial, 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.

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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. This laser treatment is more aggressive than a non-ablative laser, such as Fraxel laser, with an increased recovery time. 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.

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

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

Although acne scarring commonly occurs on the face, many patients have extensive acne scarring on their chest, arms, neck, back, and buttocks. The same laser treatments which are used on the face can be used to treat acne scars on these other areas of the body.

Are there side effects to laser acne scar treatment?

  • 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?

  • Avoid tanning or self tanners for several weeks before treatment
  • Refrain from smoking for at least two weeks prior to treatment
  • Discontinue use of Retin-A or Retinols for one week before treatment
  • No blood thinners or aspirin for two weeks before an ablative laser procedure
  • Pre-treat with Valtrex if you are prone to oral herpes or cold sores

Do lasers work on different skin types?

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 bypasses 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 lower settings 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?

The price of treatment varies depending on which laser is needed and how many treatments are necessary. Fractionated laser treatments generally cost $1,500, with radiofrequency lasers running similar range. Vascular lasers, such as the VBeam laser or IPL can range from $700 to $1,000, depending on the area being treated. Microneedling with PRP is similar in price. The price for dermal fillers depends on which dermal filler used, Restylane, Juvederm, or Sculptra, to replace the lost volume from these acne scars. TCA Cross for depressed scars can vary in price depending on the amount of acne scars being treated. 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?

It is so important to consult an expert, board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist, like Dr. Michele Green in NYC, to treat your acne scars with laser treatment. There are risks and side effects with every treatment, but having an experienced professional treat your face with laser therapy, minimizes the risks and potential side effects of treatment. Dr. Green has been practicing cosmetic dermatology in New York for over 25 years, is board certified by the American Academy of dermatology, and an expert in acne scar treatment. When choosing a healthcare provider for treating your acne scars, it is important to research the physician and look an acne scar before and after photos as well. With a myriad of acne scar lasers to choose from, from Yag lasers, to PDL, to Fraxel and Erbium lasers, and consulting with an expert like Dr. Green is essential to having the best acne scar treatment.

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6 months – accutane before and after

What are the benefits of acne scar laser treatment?

Acne and acne scarring can severely affect one’s self esteem and confidence. Both acne and acne scars can be improved, and there are multiple treatment options now available. Treating your acne scars is a part of self care and wellness and improving your overall emotional health.

Dr. Michele Green is a board certified cosmetic dermatologist, who specializes in treating patients with acne scars. With the most cutting edge laser treatments, skin care, and acne scar treatments, Dr. Green will provide you the best acne scar laser treatment to rejuvenate your skin.  To schedule a consultation call 212-535-3088 or contact us online today to start on your journey of improved skin.

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