Acne Scar Treatment

Acne can be one of the most distressing dermatological conditions to suffer from.

It typically affects younger men and women, during puberty, at a time when they are looking to find a partner and can be particularly distressing psychologically. Although it is often associated with adolescents, it can also relatively commonly affect older adults. It is normally managed by your GP using a combination of topical skin care products and prescription antibiotics. Occasionally, in severe cases, it can also be treated with a drug called Roaccutane under the supervision of a consultant dermatologist. Conventional antibiotic treatment or specialist treatment by a dermatologist is the mainstay of treatment for this condition. Occasionally, if you have a less severe form of acne, or if you do not wish to undergo conventional drug treatment, a treatment called Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) can help improve some of the symptoms.

Non-surgical treatments for acne scars 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 in turn generates a healing response. Traditional laser resurfacing burns the entire surface of the skin off. More recently advances in ‘fractional’ technology means that only a percentage of the skins surface is removed, using microscopic laser beams. This has the effect of still stimulating a healing response, but with a shorter recovery period afterwards. 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 from this procedure is usually around one week, although it can be up to 10 days. There can be some persistent redness in the skin following this treatment for up to a couple of months, although this can normally be covered using make up. You will normally notice a benefit 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 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 the acne scars).


A derma roller 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. 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 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. This can also help create a modest improvement in acne scars.

Deep Chemical Peel

Deep chemical peels can be effective at reducing acne scars. In this technique a corrosive substance is applied to the skin, burning 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 more dilute acid, so it does not penetrate as deeply. Consequently, these have a much more rapid recovery with people usually returning to work straight away. There is normally some dry skin and peeling around days 3 – 5, although it is usually not significant enough to stop people 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 the more minor peels results in more collagen remodelling in the deeper layers of the skin. This tends to have a modest impact on acne scars over time.

silver arrow divider image


Have a private online consultation from the comfort of your own home Consultation


Schedule your appointment instantly using our online booking system BOOK ONLINE


To get in touch with us at the clinic you can call us or use our online contact form
Contact Us

Can't find what you're looking for?