How to Get Rid of Pitted Acne Scars

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As if acne isn’t bad enough, once the blemishes clear up you may be left with pitted acne scars. You’re not alone. The American Association of Dermatology puts the number of Americans suffering from acne as high as 60-million. With 20-percent of those people experiencing acne so severe it will result in scarring.

How Do Acne Scars Develop?

Pitted acne scars are the result of your body trying to heal itself. After a breakout, your body will try to heal itself by replacing the lost skin tissue that has been destroyed. Scarring occurs when the body produces either too much or too little of this tissue.

What Are Different Types of Acne Scars?

Pitted acne scars are difficult to treat. Whether they are the deep, narrow, ice pick scars, rolling scars which are broader and may have slanted edges or boxcar scars characterizes by their width and hole-like appearance these acne scars may effect a person’s confidence as much as the acne itself.

Pitted acne scars are created when skin tissue is damaged. When you pick at or pop a pimple you may be doing damage to the tissue and causing pitted acne scars. So hands off! Severe blemishes, those that are inflamed, are more likely to scar even if you don’t pick at them. For people who suffer from this type of acne, pitted acne scars are hard to avoid.

Why Do People Get Pitted Scars?

There are several factors why some people will get pitted acne scars. Genetics, sun exposure, puberty, acne severity, frequency and gender all play a part in your bodies likelihood to develop pitted acne scars.

For some people scarring is in their genes. Acne genetics determines how your immune system responds to p. Acnes bacteria; one person may develop only minor blackheads while another develops explosive red and tender nodules. Intense sun exposure can make pitted acne scars darker and more noticeable. Puberty and all the hormonal changes that come along with it bring acne and the heightened possibility of scarring. A more serious outbreak, one that is inflamed and deeply rooted in the skin, will cause more severe pitted scarring. And while both men and women can develop acne scarring it is more prominent in men due to the male hormone androgen.

Once the Acne Has Cleared Up

Be patient. Here’s an important point. Before you can begin treating those pitted acne scars, you need to wait for your acne to clear up. At the first signs of the acne outbreak, see your dermatologist. The dermatologist will form a plan to bring the acne under control and help you decide when it is safe to begin working on those pitted acne scars (maybe avoid them in the first place).

Types of Treatments

Once the acne outbreak has cleared up, if you are left with pitted acne scars, your dermatologist has a variety of tools to help heal the pitted acne scars. Your dermatologist may prescribe a topical retinoid. Retin-A is a prescription medication used to treat mild to moderately severe acne. It belongs to a group of medications called topical retinoids, medications derived from Vitamin A. Retin-A stimulates new skin cell growth, so it will give your skin a smoother and more even texture. Although Retin-A isn’t the most powerful tool against pitted acne scars, it is useful to fade deep discolorations on the skin that may be left from pimples.


Laser treatments are another option. Although the American Academy of Dermatology states clearly on their website that a laser cannot get rid of a pitted acne scar, it does state that a laser can make a scar less noticeable. The AAD urges patients to only only use lasers in the hands of a board certified dermatologist and of course, seek a consultation before committing to any procedure. So, if pitted acne scars are a constant reminder of past breakouts a laser may be an option.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are another option. A chemical peel administered by a doctor, nurse or spa aesthetician can reduce the appearance of pitted acne scars. During a chemical peel, a layer of acid is applied to the face. The acid applied during this treatment will remove the outer layers of the skin and cause it to regenerate making visible pitted scars less noticeable.

Punch Excision, elevation and Grafting

Punch excision, punch elevation and punch grafting, are also ways of making pitted acne scars less noticeable. In excision, the doctor cuts into the skin to remove the pitted acne scar and then closes the wound with stitches. In punch replacement grafting, the doctor uses a round sharp tool matched to the size of the scar to remove it. A skin graft, usually taken from behind the ear, is used to fill the wound.


Dermabrasion is a painless and non-invasive procedure to help get rid of or at least lessen the appearance of pitted acne scars. During dermabrasion a dermatologist or skin care specialist will use a small handheld device to gently remove the outer layer of your skin. This process will help reveal the smooth, toned skin underneath. Dermabrasion works best for depressed acne scars that lie flat against the skin and won’t improve ice-pick or other deep acne scars.


Soft-tissue fillers may also help to reduce or lessen the appearance of pitted acne scars. Like the other solutions for getting rid of pitted acne scars, soft-tissue, or dermal fillers, may work better on some types of scars than others. Additionally, something to consider when using dermal fillers for pitted acne scars is they are a temporary solution. The amount of time that a filler last depends on the severity of the area being treated but six to twelve months is a an average range.

If you are one of the millions of people with pitted acne scars, don’t despair. See your dermatologist and get a plan!

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