If you've ever suffered from acne, then one of your greatest fears is the type of scarring that can be left behind after the acne has cleared up. Unfortunately, most scarring is caused by the way you handle acne in the first place. The skin in and around acne spots is damaged when you pinch or prick the acne in an unhygienic way. Afterwards, injured cells, dead cells and re-infection all combine together and result in a scar. This scar can be either temporary or permanent.
Even temporary scars can take a long time to heal. Some will clear up in six months, but others may still be visible for two or three years. Sometimes there are flat reddish spots that remain on the skin surface for about the same length of time after the inflamed lesion has cleared up. These are known as macules or pseudo scars. Other times the skin around the inflamed region may become slightly discolored, and this can last two or three years as well. It can become worse, too, if the skin is exposed to excessive sunlight too often.
Basically, scars develop because skin tissue is lost at the site of the acne. A particular type of scar, which is small, but the indent can be shallow or deep, is called an ice pick scar. This type of scar can also be soft or hard. If it's soft, then it's possible to stretch the scar in order to remove it, but this doesn't work for hard ice pick scars. Over time, an ice pick scar may evolve into a depressed fibrotic scar. These are firm and unyielding, and they are very deep with steep sides. Unfortunately it's normally necessary to resort to surgery to remove this type of scar.
In other cases, it's the formation of excess tissue that causes scarring. Called Keloids or hypertrophic scars, they are formed because the skin produces an excess of collagen at the acne site and eventually it forms into an amorphously shaped scar. These are usually around 1-2mm big.
One of the most common of the dermatological and cosmetic procedures suggested for scar removal is the injection of collagen. Once injected into the scarred area, the collagen lifts the skin that helps to fill in soft scars or depressions. This method doesn't work particularly well for ice pick scars, however. In that situation, it may be necessary repeat the procedure on a regular basis, such as every three months. It's important to check for collagen allergy before undergoing this procedure. If you find you're allergic to collagen, then you will need to have an autologous fat transfer instead. Other options include dermabrasion and microdermabrasion, which can be helpful in erasing scars.
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