Acne scar treatments and realistic expectations

Can you “fade” acne scars?

5 minute read

We’re here to tell you what we know, but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider about your specific health concerns.

The last thing you want to see after recovering from a breakout are unfriendly reminders left behind. But if you’ve got some marks where pimples used to be, try not to worry! You can most likely fade dark marks (different from true scars) with time and the right treatments, and take comfort in the fact that they likely aren’t as noticeable to others as they may be to you.


Let’s get the bad news out of the way: acne scars are technically permanent 😔 We know that’s disappointing, but there are options! Some just take more time and patience than others. As always, we’re here to help you through it.

How to prevent acne scars

To prevent acne scars, one thing is absolutely essential: do not pop pimples. Don’t pick at your skin at all. Meanwhile, use the best recommended treatments for your skin consistently, and check in with your dermatology provider if your breakout is not responding.

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Wear sunscreen to help protect your skin’s ability to heal itself by rebuilding collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and an essential part of the healing process.


How to get rid of acne scars

We’ve got good news—and some not-so-good news. We’ll give you the less pleasant first: acne scars are permanent. We’re talking about depressed or pitted scars, which are not expected to improve on their own over time. (The darker brown or red marks that acne leaves behind? These do go away eventually—read our guide to learn more.)

The good news is that you might improve the appearance of scars until they’re barely noticeable. It takes time, patience, and persistence—but it’s usually possible. But first, remember: it’s just as important to relax and not be hard on yourself as it is to be consistent with your routine. Don’t let scars bring you down, as there isn’t anything inherently wrong with them! Keep in mind that a lot (and we mean A LOT) of people have acne scars and most likely, you don’t even notice them.


In-office treatments for acne scars

We aren’t saying you should necessarily want or need to get rid of acne scars. Your scars are part of what make you you. Our skin bears the evidence of our lifelong journeys, and we think that’s worth embracing. Then again, that holds true even if you’d rather improve them for cosmetic reasons, which we also totally understand. In short: you do you!

If you do want to pursue options to reduce the appearance of acne scars, we’ll lay out the options for you. Different types of acne scars require different treatment approaches in order to achieve the best results. “If you want to pursue in-office treatment, I’d suggest reviewing your options in person with a local cosmetic dermatologist,” says Curology medical provider Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C.

Acne scar treatment options provided by dermatologists in-office may include:

  • Microneedling - involves a tool that repeatedly punctures the skin with tiny needles to stimulate collagen formation

  • Laser - including fractional and ablative

  • Fractional radiofrequency - microneedling with heat

  • Minor surgery - such as subcision: cutting the fibers that pull the surface of the skin down in depressed scars; or punch excision: cutting out ice-pick type scars

  • TCA peel solution - Trichloroacetic acid peels are a type of chemical peel that can range in depth, from superficial to deep

  • Dermabrasion - rotating instrument removes the superficial skin layers

  • Injectable fillers - such as hyaluronic acid fillers

Each person’s case is unique. When it comes to treating scars, it can take multiple treatments and months to see improvement. We know how hard it can be to be patient when dealing with skin issues like acne scars, but it helps to set a realistic expectation for improvement by speaking with professionals.

Some scars are more stubborn than others, and it may take a few different kinds of treatments to improve them (which, unfortunately, can be pricey and time-consuming). We’re here for you through it all. Check out our Guide to Acne Scars to learn what kind of acne scars you have, which can help you get a better idea of what to expect where treatment options are concerned.


Prevent acne scars by preventing breakouts

The best way to prevent acne scars is to prevent acne from happening in the first place. That’s where Curology comes in! Consider your skincare routine your first line of defense against pesky permanent reminders of breakouts past. Topical treatments like your custom Curology cream can help keep acne under control. If you’re dealing with breakouts, sign up for a free trial of Curology, upload some selfies, and get checked out by one of our medical providers. Skincare really can be that easy. Check out our other Guides for more tips and product recommendations for every skin type.

• • •

We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.

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