Don’t be Scarred for Life

[By Magdalene Tan]

You may think some scars are cool, some are a beautiful part of your life story, but most of the time, scars are ugly things you would love to erase.

Acne scars especially are stubborn reminders of the agony of past breakouts. We spoke to a few experts to learn more about acne scars and the different types of treatments available.

What are scars?

Scars are a natural part of the body’s healing process. When the skin is damaged, collagen, which is a naturally occurring protein in the body, is used to repair and close the wound. Scars are formed from damaged and deformed collagen in response to the inflammation acne causes.

People with darker skin tones can sometimes experience hyperpigmentation within the scars, while people with lighter skin tones may show redness or erythema within the scars.

The different types of acne scars


Acne scars can generally be formed in two different ways. When there is an excess of tissue, they are known as hypertrophic scars. Atrophic scars, which occur more commonly in acne, form when there is a loss of tissue. Atrophic scars can typically be classified into ice pick, boxcar and rolling scars.

Treatments from the doctor’s office

Forget the creams and the peels if you are looking to significantly improve the appearance of your acne scars. Lasers are now a commonly used treatment modality.

VBeam Perfecta

If you are troubled about your post-acne breakout skin redness as a result of tiny broken capillaries at the site of healed acne lesions, the pulse dye laser VBeam Perfecta would be the best treatment for you.

Fraxel Restore

For atrophic acne scars, a new fractional resurfacing procedure, Fraxel, is a new breakthrough as it offers patients the positive results of ablative resurfacing with the low down time of non-ablative therapies.

“This laser utilizes a wavelength that penetrates deep into the skin tissue to create tiny zones of micro-damage, which stimulates a healing process where the body creates new collagen that remodels the skin’s surface to make it smoother.

In doing so, not only does it improve the appearance of your acne scars, it can also treat fine lines and pigmentation problems like melasma.” explains Dr Chua Han Boon from The Sloane Clinic.

Mixto MicroResurfacing

Another innovation in micro-fractional laser therapy, the Mixto MicroResurfacing laser is also one of the effective laser treatments available for acne scars. It combines advanced fractional CO2 technology with a high speed computer scanner to deliver a precise matrix of micro-laser pulses which are highly effective in erasing skin imperfections while facilitating rapid skin healing without any of the much dreaded prolonged down time.

Besides the improvement in scar appearance, you will be happy to know that this treatment also results in skin tightening which helps to reduce wrinkles and loose skin.

Surgical Methods

Apart from laser therapy, you doctor may also want to perform some minor surgical correction such as Punch Excision or Subcision.

– Punch Excision

Ice pick and deep boxcar scars may be excised and skin edges sutured together as a fine, uniform line, which may fade on its own.

– Subcision

This is a procedure that helps to break fibrous bands of scar tissue that are creating tension between the epidermis and deeper structures and also helps to induce new collagen formation.


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8 thoughts on “Don’t be Scarred for Life”

  1. I recently have started v-beam with a dermatologist who specializes in lasers. I have had 2 treatments and its been just 2 days since my last treatment.

    After the first treatment I had some bruising and swelling. I looked like someone had punched me in the face. The swelling went down after 3 days and the bruising took about a week and a half to fully go away. The worst bruise left a slight brown spot but it’s probably only noticeable to me. What I did notice and didn’t expect is that the v-beam seemed to lighten my under eye circles, major plus!

    It definitely lightened the broken caps but I feel I will need more treatments to get rid of them completely. After second treatment I am still swollen and have more bruising but I told her it was fine to leave bruises as this means the laser is going deeper and more affective.

    The pain with v-beam is slight even when she went deeper with the laser. The flashes of light were actually more startling to me than the pain.

    I would recommend v-beam for broken caps and under eye circles as its worked well for me.

  2. I had awful acne scars. Mixto Micro Resurfacing made a big change in them, they were so deep, it changed them to about 50%-60%.

    No pain at all on the first day, the rest of the days it was very mild on a scale from 1-10 (10 would be the worst) I say the pain was number 2 maybe 3.

    What makes this procedure a big challenge is wearing thick layers of thick healing ointments (like vaseline, aquafor, etc.)
    It is very annoying at night when going to sleep, you have this super thick layer of vaseline on your face touching your hair, neck, pillow is very greasy in the morning, etc.
    It’s a challenge very well worth the time! The thick layers of vaseline are only for 7 days or so.

    I was looking very red for 8 weeks, and for 2 months I was not able to wear make up, eye liner and lipstick, yes; but not foundation. I tried wearing foundation 3.5 weeks after the procedure, my face was so red, the make up made it look purple. Once again the downtime is very well worth it!

    It made a big change in my skin, my self esteem, I will do it again, but YOU MUST BE MENTALLY prepared to know,to tell yourself, to inform your brain that you will not look very attractive for a few weeks, if you don’t mentally prepare yourself for this, you will be feeling sad, and disappointed, thinking your Doctor did it wrong, thinking u made a mistake now u look worse, that kind of thinking. so you might have some kind of depression after the treatment. So anyone of you that want to get it done, it is very well worth your money and time, just prepare yourself for it! I did it, it helped me a lot on all scars the pore size, the bigger ones, etc.

    After the brownish-redness went away, my skin had the most beautiful pinkish healthy glow and the scars were so not noticeable anymore. I am very happy with the result.

  3. I just had my first subcision treatment done 2days ago. the doctor say there may be residual swelling / brusing following the procedure. So here’s the scoop, They loaded me up with the numbing cream (such a pain, and in my honest opinion, it really doesn’t do anything for you) and advised me to take two tylenol (which they never gave me).

    Once I was prepped and ready to go, the doctor started the treatment, he stuck the needle in through my pores and began to move up and down underneath the scars, which feels weird at first, but once he/she has done it a few times you will get used to it. The doctor actually hit areas on my skin that were not pre-numbed with the numbing cream, but it felt virtually the same (I have a very high threshold for pain, so you may have a different result depending).

    Following the procedure I cleaned up my face, etc.. which was very swollen and red. The doctor told me I did very well, and I should receive good results from the treatment. I had the doctor focus on my two temples and my cheeks, where the scarring is the worst. After I had cleaned myself up, I was handed a mirror to check the results. I have to say that I am very pleased (at least right now) with my skin following this procedure. My left temple / top of my left cheek which had noticeable scarring (depressed, not very deep) has disappeared, and my temple was basically clear. The right side of my face was also noticeably better, though there are a few scars left on my cheek that are still there.

    All in all I am very happy with this first attempt, and I am planning on having another subcision treatment done, possibly with the V-Beam laser (my doctor performs the two procedures routinely, and says the two combined work wonders….. we’ll see). The doctor also tried to sell me on the Fraxel II laser, as I saw him for the Fraxel I laser originally. I want to see how this treatment affects my skin before I decide to try out another laser. I will try to post some pics in my gallery when I get a chance.

  4. Just completed Punch Excision on Ice Pick acne scars and wanted to share my experience. The procedure was painless, except for the novocaine needle which actually hurt more than I expected. It’s very important that you trust your Dr. because there is cutting and sutures involved in this procedure if not done correctly, it will look worse than before the procedure.

    I had to keep the bandages on for 6 days and not get my face wet so if you have the option, I would take off work unless you feel like explaining to everyone why you have bandages on your face, greasy hair and a full beard. I am please with the texture and am looking forward to the skin healing properly. Also wanted to share that I have had two Fraxel treatments prior to doing this and received very little to NO improvement on my acne scars. I did benefit from an overall improvement in my skin, but that was it. If you have deep acne scars, do not bother with Fraxel laser and go right to excision.

    I had to get 11 holes excised on my right side and 2 on my left. One day later it still looks like this.

  5. I have many acne scars on my face and I have tried 3 sessions of chemical peeling without visible improvement. I had 5 sessions of dermaroller and after the second session, my pores look smaller so much that my relatives thought that I had laser treatment.

    Up to that point, I was still scared about having laser treatment, but then I met my old-time friend, who used to have acne scars as well, and her acne scars have nearly disappeared. Her face was reddish when I met her so, I immediately knew she had laser treatment.
    I asked for the price, and she told me that for 1 session of Erbium laser, it cost her SGD 137. That was very-very cheap. Much cheaper than my 5 sessions of dermaroller that cost me SGD 1500.
    So I went to her doctor, and after 7 sessions, the improvement is very visible.
    My acne scars haven’t completely disappeared but they have faded, and my pores are smaller, my skin is more supple, my cheek bones accentuated, my jaws look sharper, and because my doctor always do my neck, now my double chin has disappeared.

    I look much prettier not only because my skin is fresh-looking but also because the unwanted fat on my face and neck was dissolved as well.

    I still have the ice-pick and rolling scars, but they are less visible because the color is more even now, and at least they are not amplified by my sagging skin around the jaw anymore. I am going to try another treatment for my acne scars but I plan to keep on getting erbium laser at least every six months to maintain my current skin’s youthfulness.

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