Acne. Just the very word brings anger and frustration to those who suffer from it. Although acne can cause a variety of problems in one's life, severe acne can be profound and leave scarring that is difficult to treat. Acne scarring is most often caused by what is known as pustules that develop deep within the skin. These type of infections cause an abnormal amount of tissue damage. The type of scarring which can occur because of this damage varies greatly and usually results in four distinct kinds of scars.
Ice Pick Scars: Deep pitting scars which are not only the most classic type of acne scarring but also the most common type.
Box Car Scars: These are an angular type of scarring that most often occurs on the cheeks and temples. These can be shallow in depth or very deep and resembles chickenpox scars.
Hypertrophics Scars: These are thickened scars which are generally higher than the surrounding skin and are also called keloid scars.
Rolling Scars: Scars that may give the skin a wavy looking appearance.
There are also what is know as pigmentation scarring which occur as a result of nodular or cystic acne. These are not true scars as most of the time they do fade with time.
Before treating acne scars most physicians or dermatologist will first try and evaluate the severity of the scarring by means of a grading scale. There are 3 main types of grading scales used and all use a numerical scale from 0 - 10 or somewhere in between. 0 being the least severe and the higher number on the scale they are using as being the most severe. Once you have been properly evaluated and the scarring graded you can then begin to explore the options available to you for treatment.
Successful treatment of acne scarring can be rather complex and has been hampered over the decades due to limited research but new and exciting treatments are emerging. Most people do not experience the exact same type scarring. In fact, most are very different from each other so treatment must be designed on an individual basis. With that in mind lets explore the different type of treatments available and the costs associated with them.
1. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels are generally recommended for those with mild scarring and appears to be very beneficial in up to 80% of those choosing this type of treatment. Chemical peeling can improve and smooth the facial skin by removing the outer damaged layers of skin. Generally phenol, tricholoracetic acid and alphahydroxy acid are used in varying strengths to accomplish the depth of peel desired. The benefit of chemical peels no only reduce the appearance of scarring but actually even control acne itself in certain cases. Make sure you consult carefully with your doctor prior to treatment. The cost of chemical peels can range up to $500 or more depending on how many treatments are required.
This type of treatment involves using lasers to remove the top layer of your skin which then permits new skin to grow and replace it. laser resurfacing in a relatively new procedure but results appear to dramatic. It too is used for mild or shallow scarring. There are two types of lasers which can be used. Pulsed carbon dioxide is the strongest type available. It is used mainly when the entire facial area is to be treated so that pigmentation throughout the face will remain consistent. Erbium laser, also known as Er:YAG is used more for minor and localized areas. Researchers are finding that by combining the two greater effects are produced and the recovery period appears to be shorter. The cost of this treatment can range up to $2500 and it too depends on the actual amount of treatments needed.
Dermabrasion also known as dermaplaning can be performed on small localized areas of skin or the entire face. It is also used for mild scarring and can be implemented along with other treatments such as chemical peeling. Dermabrasion involves the scrapping away of the outer layer of skin. Diamond burrs are most often used and you may liken this type of treatment to actually a sanding technique. An instrument called a dermatome is also used. A dermatome is like a razor which utilizes oscillating blades that effectively skim off the surface of the skin. This procedure can be used more than once. Results from this type of treatment can also be dramatic. Please not that it will take some time for the full effects to be realized but most report the treatment to be very effective. The costs range around $750 to $1500 per treatment.
4. Punch Techniques
As the name implies this treatment involves the actual punching out and replacing of the scar tissue itself. This type of procedure in most effective with ice pick type of scarring. The punch is most usually replaced with a skin graft. There is also punch excision which is actually removing the scar tissue and then closing the incision and allowing the area to heal. Your physician may consider combining this procedure with other treatments such as laser, chemical peel or dermabrasion to enhance the results. Cost are based on actual punches which can be as high as $75 each.
This type procedure involves injecting collagen or fat under the scar itself thereby causing it to rise to the surface. This is effective for deeper scars. This is a very promising procedure and research is continuing to determine the best type of material to use. The results seem to be temporary at this time especially with collagen. More permanent solutions appear to be on the horizon. Pricing is in the $200 to $750 range and is based on cubic centimeters treated.
Acne can be difficult but as you can see it is not impossible. Please be aware that all these procedure should be done by a qualified physician. With persistence and determination you too can have the healthy, beautiful skin you desire. Technology in this area seems to be doubling every 2 years or so. If you suffer from acne do not give up hope. With better research and procedures you can expect better results and lower costs.