The 4 types of acne scars—and how to get rid of them all

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With a whopping 40 to 55 percent
of today’s adult population suf
fering from persistent breakouts, acne is a more common daily annoyance for grown-ups than you’d think…which seems so cosmically unfair. There should be a rule that we only have to deal with pimples or fine lines, dammit.
The good news is that there are much, much better face wash options, medications, and topicals available today than back in your high-school days. The only downside is that even if you are able to clear up breakouts, you might be left with acne scars that permanently reside on your face. (Double ugh.)
“Acne scars are very challenging to treat and are even more challenging to treat once they’ve been given time to age,” says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Omaha, Nebraska. Although he says the best option is prevention (but if you just can’t resist popping your pimples, do it the doctor-approved way!), there are ways to treat acne scars to drastically reduce their appearance.
Here’s why you’re noticing scars on your pretty face in the first place—and what dermatologists recommend to get rid of them.
Why do acne scars form in the first place?
Even if you have amazing willpower—like the willpower of a Girl Scout with a full inventory of Thin Mints under her bed—and never, ever mess with your acne, you can still scar. “Acne scars result from damage to the skin following repeated in-flammation from acne cysts,” says Judith Hellman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “Pimple popping can make the process worse, but acne can cause scarring even without pimple popping.”
How big of a scar you’ll be left with after a blemish (if any at all) depends on the depth of the breakout, Schlessinger says. “As our pores become engorged with oil and form a blemish, the pore may swell and collapse the follicle wall,” he says. “The depth of the resulting lesion determines the severity of the scar. Shallow lesions usually heal quickly and leave little-to-no scarring, while deeper lesions spread to nearby tissue, causing a more pronounced scar.”
You can apply all the topicals you want, but un-fortunately, most treatments you’ll find at the drug-store won’t help with acne scars, Hellman says. However, she notes that derma rollers (at-home microneedling devices) may help with acne scar-ring. If you’re on a tight budget, that should be your first stop. You can get one on Amazon for less than $20. (Use yours once a week followed by a Vitamin C serum for best results—here’s how to pick the best ones.)
“Derma rollers can help produce new collagen in the skin and may help soften the scars,” Hellman says. “Beyond that, professional treatments are needed to deliver an improvement.”
If a derma roller isn’t effective at getting rid of your scarring, your next trip is to your dermatolo-gist’s office.

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