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How to Repair Acne-Damaged Skin

The most common type of skin damage that develops from acne is scarring, and scars, especially acne scars, can be difficult to treat 1. Your dermatologist can assess your skin and severity of scarring to determine your most appropriate treatment 4. However, there a few standard forms of treatment that are used to repair acne-scarred skin.

Try a medicated cream. Silicone is one of the more common, but your dermatologist may recommend tretinoin or corticosteroids to reduce any scarring left from acne lesions, advises the American Academy of Dermatology 23. Apply to the affected areas of the skin one to two times a day, depending on the cream.

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Talk to your doctor about corticosteroid or interferon injections. Both medications are administered directly into raised hypertrophic or keloid scars that can develop after acne lesions heal. Injections are usually given at regular intervals, approximately every two or three weeks, to reduce the size and severity of scarring.

Revitalize the skin with a chemical peel, suggests the American Academy of Dermatology 234. In this cosmetic procedure, an acidic agent is applied to the skin, causing it to peel. As new skin forms, it often lacks the severity of scarring originally on the skin.

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Rejuvenate the skin with dermabrasion. Like a chemical peel, dermabrasion removes the surface layer of skin. A rotating brush or blade systematically sands away the epidermal layer of your skin, leaving a controlled wound. As the wound heals, scars are typically less severe and harder to discern from the rest of your skin.

Resurface the skin with laser therapy. With laser skin resurfacing, the outer layer of the skin is destroyed, while the underlying layers are heated. This can encourage the formation of new skin cells and tighten underlying tissue, thereby reducing the appearance of acne scars. Other lasers can be used to only treat the underlying layers of the skin.

Consider surgery to repair damaged skin. Many acne scars can be treated with punch excisions, which manually extract the scar tissue 1. A suture, graft or elevation is then used to correct the incision wound and smooth out the scar with the rest of the skin. Subcisions can also be use for this same purpose. In this procedure, the surface layer of the skin is separated from the underlying scar tissue, allowing the skin to take on a smoother appearance.

Use cosmetic fillers to improve the appearance of acne scars. Collagen or fat can be injected under scars to fill in depressions, providing a more even texture to the skin. Hyaluronic acid and polymethylmethacrylate are other injectables that can serve the same purpose. Injectables last between three to six months.


Don't be surprised if your dermatologist uses more than one form of treatment to correct skin damage associated with acne. Combining treatment methods often provides the best results, claims the American Academy of Dermatology. If your skin is suffering from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, apply a topical cream containing hydroquinone to encourage fading. PIH is basically residual inflammation that causes dark spots on the skin after an acne breakout. It's not actually skin damage or scarring.