Acne Scars – The Different Types of Scars and Treatments

Acne Scars

There are essentially two basic types of acne scars:

  • Atrophic – Pitted, depressed acne scars
  • Hypertrophic and Keloidal – Raised acne scars

Red/Brown/Purple “Scars”

What about the red/pink/purple/brown colored marks left on our skin when our acne is clearing and skin is healing? These are NOT scars. These dark colored marks are the result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). It is the normal remnant of the skin’s inflammatory process.


These dark marks will be gone, even if you do not do anything. However, the length of time before these dark marks disappear varies for different people and is influenced by a lot of factors, such as one’s intrinsic healing abilities, severity of the acne, age, exposure to sun. Some may take up to a year or more to fade off, especially the darker colored marks.

Ultraviolet rays cause damage to skin cells and slow the healing process. Ultraviolet rays will also darken the skin, preferentially darkening areas of abnormal discoloration. By using sunscreen, it prevents these dark marks from getting darker and it also aids in the healing process. Skinlycious  Brightening Sunscreen  helps to lighten existing pigmentations and reduce occurrence of pigmentations.

Chemical exfoliators
Chemical exfoliators help increase skin cells renewal, speeding up the lightening of the pigmentation. However, do note that over-exfoliation might lead to thin sensitive skin, hyper pigmentation and even inflammation. If you are using a strong chemical exfoliator with high acids content, use it at most once a week. If not, choose a milder lower percentage chemical exfoliator. Skinlycious Glow Exfoliant is a combination of Mandelic Acid (AHA) and Salicylic Acid (BHA). It can be used twice daily on spots but for whole face exfoliation, we recommend not more than 3 times a week in the evening.

Procedures like microdermabrasion and lasers
Likewise, these procedures increase skin cell renewal, speeding up the lightening of these dark marks.

Atrophic – Pitted, Depressed Scars

This is the type of scar that is very difficult to treat and remove. There is said to be no topical skin care products to effectively treat these scars. A consultation with a dermatologist or aesthetic-trained doctor is the best way to approach this issue. If you would like a detailed explanation on how scars can be treated from a doctor’s perspective, I find this article super detailed and useful.


– Chemical peels
– Dermabrasion/Microdermabrasion
– Laser treatment – Fractional CO2 Laser is considered the gold standard.
– Punch techniques
– Dermal grafting
– Tissue augmenting agents
– Needling
– Combined therapies

I’m not a fan of chemical peels after my personal negative experience. The chemical peels session made my skin thin and super sensitive. I was flushing red for many years, especially under the sun. It took quite many years before my skin stopped flushing badly. I would like to share my experience about microdermabrasion(MD) on my acne scars though. Honestly, I have developed a habit of not looking at myself in the mirror due to my past acne issue, I didn’t observe how bad my scars were. My mum was the one keeping track of my progress. After so many years of doing MD monthly with my aesthetic GP, I would say that I do not have any pitted scars or big pores. According to my mum, she said in my younger days before I had MD treatments, my pores were big and there were holes on my face. So, I guess MD did play a big part in reducing/removing my acne scars. Again, patience is the key. There’s no instant fix. Today, I don’t do anymore MD but uses Skinlycious Glow Exfoliant diligently for exfoliation.

Hypertrophic and Keloidal – Raised Acne Scars

This is by far, the most difficult to treat. Hypertrophic and keloidal scars are associated with excess collagen deposition and decreased collagenase activity. Again, only a dermatologist or aesthetic-trained doctor will be able to guide you in treating these severe types of scarring.

–  Silicone Gel – Silicone-based products represent one of the most common and effective solutions in preventing and also in the treatment of hypertrophic acne scars.
–  Intralesional Steroid Therapy
–  Cryotherapy
–  Pulsed Dye Laser
–  Surgery

P.S. If you still have existing acnes, it would be better to clear the acne first before starting these procedures for scar treatment. My dermatologist also advised that acne should be cleared first before moving on to scar treatment.

I trust dermatologists / aesthetic doctors more than beauticians after my bad experience, so I personally would prefer to seek doctors’ help when it comes to such procedures. Furthermore, doctors’ grade machines are stronger than those of beauticians, so results would be more noticeable. Of course, not all doctors are good. Grasping the intensity to use on the different skin types takes experience and using too high an intensity might lead to sensitive skin. The strength of chemical peels to use by the doctor is also crucial. I have had a bad experience with chemical peels with a famous aesthetic GP, causing me to have sensitive skin.

Previously, I went to another aesthetic GP to do microdermabrasion once a month until I relocated to Jakarta. Microdermabrasion helps to remove the outer skin layer and sucks out the whiteheads/blackheads. I saw the strands of whiteheads/blackheads coming out from my nose with my own eyes when the nurse was doing microdermabrasion for me. From then on, I was sold. It’s painless too unlike extractions done in beauty salons. I don’t believe in extractions as if it’s not done properly, it might lead to scarring.

However, I must caution that if we have existing acne outbreak, microdermabrasion might possibly make us break out even more. That’s what happened to me! My GP doesn’t do microdermabrasion for me if I have outbreaks. Instead, we just do a calming and anti-bacterial mask. However, after I relocated from Singapore to Jakarta in 2012. I’ve not went for facials and my skin never looked better just by using Skinlycious routine . The one time I tried doing a hydradermabrasion with an aesthetic doctor in Jakarta left me with super oily skin thereafter for a few days. I took a look at the hyaluronic acid serum they were infusing while doing the dermabrasion, sodium hyaluronate was ranked lower than the preservatives, I knew the concentration was so low that I’m better off using my own hydrating serum

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