Can I clear up my acne scars?
August 16, 2012 10:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm in in my 40s. I have scars on my face from teenage acne. Is it too late to do anything about it?

That's pretty much it. I want cleaner, smoother skin. I want to go from crater to mare. It's been 25 years since I had any serious acne though I still do get the occasional zit.

I'm happily married and I love life. My skin doesn't really hold me back or bother me too much but every time I look in the mirror I wonder if I could improve it.

I'd prefer a minimal amount of work on my part and nothing too drastic.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you'd need to ask a dermatologist and/or plastic surgeon about this. I wouldn't waste your time buying any kind of treatment that you could get without medical advice as it's likely to be a ripoff at best.

There probably will be something that can be done to improve matters.
posted by tel3path at 10:25 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am in your situation and I've looked into this a bit.

you can do a serious of microdermabrasion. its not too extreme in terms of cost or down time for healing, but its not permanent. it does improve the surface texture of the skin a lot though.

you can do a laser or chemical peel type thing, but these are expensive and can have unpredictable results and do have long healing times. it is permanent though...

honestly looking into these things made me realize I can live with my scarred skin, I'd rather spend the money on a vacation...

I have noticed personally that when I am well-rested, hydrated and taking good care of myself my skin texture is at its best. poor sleep, partying, not enough water all make it look at lot worse....
posted by supermedusa at 10:31 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

also agree with tel3path first step is a consultation with dermatologist and then plastic surgeon if that is the way you want to go. I would get multiply consultations and research any procedure very carefully before committing...
posted by supermedusa at 10:33 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

YES! Google around and read about Fraxel laser treatments. Your better laser-wielder (find a dermatologist who specialises in this sort of thing, and not a "medispa"-type place that also does hair waxing and toenail clipping and so on) will have other good options, too. There are "fillers" and other techniques if your scars are deep? But, anyway, the answer here is yes yes yes, and even though you are probably the only one who notices, if it bugs you that much -- you will likely be happy to have something done about it.

(My Fraxel healing time was pretty much nil; it was like a light sunburn, and the cost would not have paid for any vacation of note)
posted by kmennie at 10:35 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dermarolling! It's the same as laser treatments except with tiny needles instead of lasers. You'll want to supplement your routine with vit c and retin-a. Emphasis on the retin-a! It's not a lot of work, would just be rolling the areas once a month.
posted by Sayuri. at 10:52 AM on August 16, 2012

For minimal work, you might want to ask your dermatologist about Retin-A (a prescription cream, not to be confused with Retinol-A). Just apply it at bedtime after washing and drying your face. Can be a bit drying and if you're fair-skinned, you will be more sun-sensitive, but it really does help with scars/acne/stretch marks.
posted by lily_bart at 10:56 AM on August 16, 2012

I've heard very good things about Make Up Artist Choice's facial peels. I'm terrified of the more intense ones but they have them in varying strengths, and they're inexpensive.
posted by sonmi at 11:06 AM on August 16, 2012

Nthing that the best answer is probably some kind of laser treatment.

If that's too extreme, but you could commit to an extra daily step in your face care routine, there are a number of primers out there that dramatically, temporarily fill even deepish wrinkles by plumping the skin. They do nothing to actually fix the scar, they just disguise it slightly by making the skin look smoother; think of it as spackle. Go into Sephora and say that's what you're looking for, they will show you a number of options, try them out.
posted by slow graffiti at 11:13 AM on August 16, 2012

Jane Marie from the Hairpin has previously espoused love for the TCA peel for facial spots and scarring.

As a personal recommendation, while my acne scarring is not completely gone, I have see improvement in the look and texture of my face after investing in the Clarisonic. There are a few crazy deep divots that will probably always remain but my pores just generally look tighter.
posted by itsonreserve at 11:38 AM on August 16, 2012

Chemical peels, retin-A, microderm - these all can work over a long period on mild scarring, but real results come from more drastic measures, like laser resurfacing (Fraxel). You may well need a couple of sessions several months apart. The cost is about 2K (it has come down drastically).
posted by Dragonness at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2012

It depends on what kind of scarring you're talking about. If it is redness, then there are intense pulse light (IPL) treatments available that can reduce or eliminate certain kinds of redness. If you have so-called crater or ice-pick scars, then you are probably looking at dermal fillers (basically little injections to plump up the area) that you will repeat periodically if you want to keep the results. You definitely want to find the most reputable, cosmetic dermatologist in your area and get a consultation with them.
posted by pinetree at 12:25 PM on August 16, 2012

Mild peels with AHAs or other forms of glycolic acid give nice results. I've tried the Fade Peel from Make Up Artist's Choice. The results were pretty impressive but it was a bit too aggressive for my dark skin. The before and after photos on the site are a real sell and I've liked a few of their other products. It's worth a look.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 5:40 PM on August 16, 2012

I use a series of the Make Up Artist's Choice (the tca peel!) and Beauty Obsession (I think.. from amazon.. I like the alpha beta peel!) chemical peels, and my scars have lessened a bit! I might wait a couple months because they make you pretty sun sensitive though. I also started using hyaluronic acid serum on my face under my makeup and I feel like it's brightened up my skin a bit too, it's really good for evening out blotchiness for sure.

I'd do a LOT of research into the laser treatments before you do one.. there's a lot of opinions that it might damage the fat under your skin, so it looks better for a little while, but then after it starts wearing off in 6 months or so, they look even worse than before and you also end up with more wrinkles than you had before perhaps. I decided against the treatments for mine, deciding to go with gentler things and not risk it.

my sister takes an herbal supplement called Perfect Skin and her skin HAS been looking nicer lately, and also if I drink a lot of water I tend to look better?
posted by euphoria066 at 6:17 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had cystic acne scars completely removed with Fraxel & V-Beam laser treatments by my dermatologist. He did an alternating plan of Fraxel, two weeks later V-Beam, two weeks later Fraxel, etc with three sessions for each. The recovery wasn't a big deal. My face would be a tad red after the Fraxel for a few days.

I should add that my scars were fairly new at the time, so can't speak for how well it works on older scars.
posted by side effect at 9:55 AM on August 18, 2012

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