Non-Surgical Treatments for Acne Scars

We offer effective non-surgical acne scar treatment in Glasgow at our cosmetic clinic

Active acne can be one of the most distressing dermatological conditions to suffer from. This is all the more reason that we shouldn’t let ourselves be haunted by the aftermath — acne scarring.

Acne typically affects younger men and women during puberty, at a time when they are looking to find a partner, which can be particularly distressing psychologically because of the effect it has on their confidence. However, although it is often associated with adolescents, it can also relatively commonly affect older adults.

Unfortunately, about 1 of every 5 people with acne will develop acne scarring thereafter. In these cases, acne scarring is the result of inflammation of acne blemishes – this is what causes skin damage. When there is a loss of tissue, an indentation scar forms on the skin’s surface; but when there is too much collagen production for scar tissue in the repair process, raised scars can form on the top layer of skin instead.

Book an appointment for your acne scar treatment in Glasgow

Acne vs Acne Scarring

Acne scar treatments differ significantly from acne treatments.

Acne Scar Treatments

We offer a number of popular treatments for different skin types with acne scarring.

Your options for acne scarring treatments may depend on whether you have rolling scars or not, the appearance of your scars, and various other factors. Recovery time for most of these is between 24 hours and 10 days, depending on your chosen procedure and the severity of the case.

Overall, most of these methods used for acne scarring also aim to give patients better skin in other ways — positively impacting general skin texture, pigmentation, and fine lines as well.

Acne Treatments

We offer a number of effective treatments for acne in an attempt to prevent scarring in acne sufferers as far as possible. Acne treatment is normally managed by your GP using a combination of topical skincare products and prescription antibiotics.

In severe acne cases, acne treatment could include a drug called Roaccutane, used under the supervision of a consultant dermatologist. For those with less severe acne who do not wish to undergo conventional drug treatment, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) can be a good acne treatment when trying to improve some of the symptoms.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Acne Scarring include:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Laser Resurfacing

This is broadly considered to be the gold standard treatment for acne scars.

The CO2 laser is the most aggressive laser available for skin resurfacing. It works by burning the top layers of the skin off, which generates a healing response. Traditional laser resurfacing burns the entire surface of the skin off. More recent advances in ‘fractional’ technology mean that only a percentage of the skin’s surface is removed using microscopic laser beams. This has the effect of stimulating a healing response, but with a shorter recovery period.

The CO2 laser we use is the CO2RE from Syneron-Candela, which has the ability to work in both full field and fractional mode. For treating acne scarring we normally use it in fractional mode, using a combination of medium and deep settings for the most effective results. The down time for this procedure is usually around one week, although it can be up to 10 days.

After the initial healing period there is a longer-term healing process under the skin, characterised by remodelling of ‘new’ collagen. This means the final results are often not appreciated until three months after treatment. Therefore, there can be some persistent redness in the skin following this treatment for up to a couple of months. This can normally be covered using make up.

You will normally notice the results from this treatment after one session, but sometimes two or three sessions are required to achieve optimal results.


This is an old fashioned method of skin resurfacing using a rotating wire brush. Due to the lack of control with this technique, the results can be unpredictable. There are few doctors who still practice this technique since the advent of laser technology.


This is a beauty therapy treatment that uses fine crystals to blast against the surface of the skin. This creates a nice exfoliating effect on the skin and can give the skin a nice glow (similar to what you would achieve from using a glycolic cleanser or facial scrub). This is a very superficial technique that does not penetrate to the level of acne scarring.


A dermaroller is a rolling device that has hundreds of small needles attached to it. It is rolled over the skin a number of times, creating thousands of needle incisions in the skin. This can create a modest improvement in acne scarring.

The theory is that this stimulates a healing response and tissue remodelling in the deeper layers of the skin. Smaller needles can be used by beauty therapists. When using deeper needles it can be used by a doctor – along with local anaesthetic – to create better results.

There is normally a few days of down time with each treatment.

Deep Chemical Peel

Deep chemical peels can be effective at reducing acne scars. For this technique, a corrosive substance is applied to the skin, which burns the top layers off. The chemical used (phenol) can be bad for the heart (cardiotoxic) so it should only be used in a hospital setting with two doctors present so that the heart can be safely monitored. To be able to peel down to the level of the skin where the acne is based it is necessary to go beyond the layer of the skin where the pigment producing cells live. Because of this, phenol tends to lighten or bleach the skin at the same time.

This has also fallen out of fashion since the advent of laser technology.

Lighter Chemical Peels

A course of lighter chemical peels can sometimes be used to treat acne scarring. A lighter chemical peel is one using a mild (dilute) acid, so it does not penetrate as deeply. Consequently, these have a much more rapid recovery time, with people usually returning to work straight away.

There is normally some dry skin and peeling around days 3 – 5. It is usually not significant enough to stop people from going about their normal day-to-day activities. Normally a course of 5 or 6 treatments would be suggested — one each week.

The philosophy behind this treatment is that the constant inflammation produced causes minor peel results and collagen remodelling in the deeper layers of the skin. This tends to have a modest impact on acne scars over time.

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