How Does Laser Skin Resurfacing Work for Acne Scars?

Acne scars can be emotionally debilitating, whether they surface as discoloration or more as a textural issue, like a deep pitted scar. For some, lingering acne scars are a reminder of past acne struggles and can serve as a constant reminder of those not-so-clear-skin days. For some, acne scars fade away on their own (that’s more so the case with minimal hyperpigmentation), but laser skin resurfacing is often the go-to solution when your skin requires a little extra help. Despite the various skin-perfecting treatments available, laser skin resurfacing is the most effective solution because it can safely remove the uppermost layer of skin while working deeper to stimulate new collagen for less visible acne scars.

Laser skin resurfacing for acne scars is an incredibly popular procedure for those wishing to improve the look of their scars permanently. While there are different types of laser skin resurfacing for acne scars, it’s essential to discuss with your provider your ultimate skin goals so they can recommend the proper laser treatment to help improve your skin.

Does laser skin resurfacing get rid of acne scars?

Lasers can seem like a magic wand that makes all your skin concerns disappear. However, while laser skin resurfacing for acne scars is effective in getting rid of acne scars, how it improves the appearance of the skin is a bit more complicated.

Different types of acne scars respond to different treatments. While you may be able to improve some spots with an exfoliator or spot-fading gel, others require a heavier hitter, like a laser. The deeper the scar, the more stubborn it is and the harder it is to improve it—but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them look better.

Treating acne scars is not a one-size-fits-all procedure. The type of laser skin resurfacing your provider will recommend is primarily dictated by the kind of acne scars you have. Acne scars can range from small hyperpigmentation spots to skin depressions and even keloid-type scars. It’s normal for skin with acne scars to have visible discoloration. It’s best to research laser skin resurfacing before and after acne scars to understand better what your skin may look like after. This will provide a general idea of the degree of improvement you can expect.

What is the best laser resurfacing for acne scarring?

Different types of acne respond to different treatments, and some patients need to take a mix-and-match approach to smooth out the skin and lighten discoloration. These are the best laser resurfacing treatments for acne scars: 

  • Fractionated resurfacing laser: To improve thick, bumpy acne scars and reduce brown discoloration, a fractionated resurfacing laser to smooth your skin. Fractionated resurfacing lasers increase collagen production within the skin, smoothing out scars so they’re less visible.
  • CO2 lasers: These more ablative lasers rely on more intense wavelengths to emit energy into the skin that removes the outermost layer of skin. The skin starts the natural repair process, which stimulates the production of new collagen for noticeably smoother skin.

How do laser treatments for acne scarring work?

Each laser modality has a unique mechanism of action to eliminate the bothersome signs of acne scars. For example, more ablative lasers physically remove the outermost layer of skin while stimulating new collagen to even out divots, indents, and dips in the skin. There are varying degrees of ablative lasers available. This new collagen helps to smooth the skin’s surface and give it a more evenly textured and toned appearance.

Is laser resurfacing worth it for acne scars?

Most patients who choose to undergo laser skin resurfacing for acne scars are pleasantly surprised with the degree of improvement in their skin. With fewer acne scars on the skin’s surface and a more even tone and texture, the insecurities that come with acne scars are often pushed aside.

The best way to determine if it is worth investing in laser skin resurfacing acne scars treatments is to consult your provider. At this time, they can walk you through the treatment, explain the pros and cons, and even show you laser skin resurfacing before and after acne scar photos so you can get a sense of what to expect.

However, you’ll want to ensure the recommended treatment fits within your budget and lifestyle and that if there is any downtime, that works for your schedule.

What is a laser skin resurfacing acne scar treatment like?

Each laser treatment is different. However, most lasers can be uncomfortable, so topical numbing cream makes the treatment more comfortable. Less invasive treatments that use light energy are more tolerable than more ablative ones. The lower the setting, the less you’ll feel on the skin.

Laser treatments can feel like anything from a rubber band snapping on the skin to a warm sensation that lingers. The treatment intensity depends on the laser setting, which should also consider skin tone to prevent hyperpigmentation. Often, any discomfort is only felt during the treatment and dissipates soon after.

How should the skin be cared for after laser skin resurfacing?

When treating acne scars with laser, the aftercare portion of the treatment is equally as important as the treatment itself.

Ideally, avoiding the sun at all costs is your best approach. Sun exposure can delay healing and even prevent any redness from entirely dissipating. Sometimes, the sun can undo the effects of the laser, too. It’s also best to take a gentle approach with your skincare products post-laser and not use anything that will irritate or inflame the skin, which will delay healing and cause potential discoloration.

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Download our exclusive Charette Cosmetics Services & Pricing Guide to learn more about our service menu & treatment prices.