Acne scars make you want to hide your face.
They're very hard on self esteem. I can't tell you how many women I've had call me desperate for a way to make their scars look better! Fortunately, micro-needling is very effective for depressed acne scars – in all colors of skin (unlike lasers).
Here are the advantages of micro-needling acne scars:
- It is more cost effective than lasers with minimal down time.
- Micro-needling can be safely done near the eyes and in other areas that chemical peels and lasers cannot.
- Micro-needling acne scars allows scarred areas to be treated without treating the entire face or blending treatment edges. No visible line is formed between treated and untreated skin after micro-needling – like is commonly seen after other resurfacing procedures.
4. There is no risk of photosensitivity or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (if you stay out of the sun and care for your skin as directed!) because the top layers of skin are never removed.
5. Micro-channels created during the procedure close quickly, so the risk of infection is extremely low.
Here’s the proof for micro-needling acne scars:
In one study (Fabbrocini, et al.), 60 patients were treated for acne scarring with 3 micro-needling treatments. They got a 31% average improvement in skin texture with no discoloration. Micro-needling acne scars was effective on all skin types, from light to dark.
The technique works great for sunken areas on the skin caused by acne, but not for deep, narrow “ice pick” scars, says New York Dermatologist, Doris Day. Dr. Day says she generally sees a 60% to 70% improvement in broad acne scars with four to six treatments.
Clinical studies have shown the response to micro-needling acne scars is closely tied to the type of scar treated. It gets a good to excellent response in rolling and shallow boxcar scars. However, there is a definite improvement in deep boxcar scars as well. Pitted scars show only moderate improvement. Deep tunnels and other complicated scars respond best to surgery. In scars like these, micro-needling can be used in combination with surgery to improve appearance. To learn more about the different kinds of acne scars - and the best treatments for each kind - read our post about Acne Scar Treatment.
Micro-Needling can be combined with other acne scar treatments to maximize results.
In one study (Leheta et al.), micro-needling was combined with a 20% TCA peel to treat depressed acne scars. (A TCA peel is a medium depth chemical peel that takes 5 - 7 days to heal.) The results were comparable to a deep phenol peel. This is impressive because deep phenol peels have a profound effect on wrinkles.
The reason people don't get them is that deep peels require anesthesia and 2 weeks of recovery time. They are also very expensive and leave you looking sunburned for 2 - 3 months, among MANY other things.
Another study (Sharad J) got excellent results on post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkened areas of skin) with acne scarring. The study combined micro-needling with a 35% glycolic acid peel. (A glycolic acid peel is the most common alpha-hydroxy acid peel, also known as a fruit peel. It is simple, inexpensive, and has no downtime.) There was no increase in adverse effects.
Micro-needling can also be combined with fractional laser treatments to get better results. This combination must be used carefully in patients with dark skin because of a higher risk of skin darkening from the laser. To learn more about skin color changes with laser treatments, read our article, What are hypo and hyperpigmentation? Why do some people get color changes with skin treatments?
In another study (Garg S., Baveja S.), micro-needling was combined with a 15% TCA peel (a medium depth peel) and surgical subcision to treat moderate and severe acne scars. 63% of patients with severe acne scarring got excellent results. 32% of the patients with with moderate acne scars got excellent scar reduction.
Here's What to Expect:
Micro-needling acne scars causes thickening of the skin and a dramatic increase in new collagen and elastin. You will start to see results after about 6 weeks. Your skin texture will continue to improve for about a year as your skin makes new collagen.
Results vary between patients, but everyone gets some improvement from micro-needling acne scars. The number of treatments needed will depend on your collagen response, the condition of your skin and the kind of results you desire. Best results are achieved with 6 treatments. Most patients are happy with 3 treatments spaced 4 weeks apart.
Learn More About Micro-Needling:
- Medical Micro-needling - An Overview
- Medical Micro-Needling | 3 Ways It Works to Improve Skin
- 6 Reasons to Try Micro-Needling for an Active Lifestyle
- Micro-Needling Is in the News!
- Cosmetic vs. Medical Micro-Needling | How They're Different
- Micro-Needling Is Better Than Other Kinds of Skin Rejuvenation | 9 Reasons Why
- Why Micro-Needling Is the Best Choice for Scars & Stretch Marks
You can see before and after photos of acne scar reduction in our blog post, Scar and Stretch Mark Reduction Results.
Amy Takken, RN
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery. She's also been quoted on Dermascope.com.
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If you liked this post, you'll LOVE these:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3875240/ Glycolic acid peel therapy – a current review
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3481880/ Comparative study of 15% TCA peel versus 35% glycolic acid peel for the treatment of melasma
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09546634.2012.742949 Percutaneous collagen induction: an effective and safe treatment for post-acne scarring in different skin phototypes
Garg S, Baveja S. Combination therapy in the management of atrophic acne scars. J Cutan Aesthet Surg 2014; 7(1): 18–23
Leheta T, El Tawdy A, Abdel Hay R, Farid S. Percutaneous collagen induction versus full-concentration trichloroacetic acid in the treatment of atrophic acne scars. Dermatol Surg 2011; 37(2): 207–16
Sharad J. Combination of microneedling and glycolic acid peels for the treatment of acne scars in dark skin. J Cosmet Dermatol 2011; 10(4): 317–23
The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some - like melanoma - can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!