Acne Scars | Types and Treatments

Acne Scars

There are essentially two basic types of acne scars:

  • Atrophic – Pitted, depressed acne scars
  • Hypertrophic and Keloidal – Raised acne scars

Red/Purple/Brown “Scars”

acne hyperpigmentation
What about the red/pink/purple/brown colored marks left on our skin when our acne is clearing and skin is healing? These are NOT scars. These dark colored marks are the result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). It is the normal remnant of the skin’s inflammatory process.



These dark marks will be gone, even if you do not do anything. However, the length of time before these dark marks disappear varies for different people and is influenced by a lot of factors, such as one’s intrinsic healing abilities, severity of the acne, age, exposure to sun. Some may take up to a year or more to fade off, especially the darker colored marks.


Ultraviolet rays cause damage to skin cells and slow the healing process. Ultraviolet rays will also darken the skin, preferentially darkening areas of abnormal discoloration. By using sunscreen, it prevents these dark marks from getting darker and it also aids in the healing process. Our 8 in 1 Whitening Sunscreen SPF 41 PA ++ helps to lighten existing pigmentations and reduce occurrence of pigmentations.

Chemical exfoliators

These chemical exfoliators help increase skin cells renewal, speeding up the lightening of the pigmentation. However, do note that over-exfoliation might lead to sensitive skin, hyper pigmentation and even inflammation. If you are using a strong chemical exfoliator, use it at most once a week. If not, choose a mild daily chemical exfoliator. An example of a mild chemical exfoliator for daily use is SkinLYcious anti-acne solution that contains salicylic acid.

Procedures like microdermabrasion and laser
Likewise, these procedures increase skin cell renewal, speeding up the lightening of these dark marks.

Atrophic – Pitted, Depressed Scars

This is the type of scar that is very difficult to treat and remove. There is said to be no topical skin care products to effectively treat these scars. A consultation with a dermatologist or aesthetic-trained doctor is the best way to approach this issue.


– Chemical peels
– Dermabrasion/Microdermabrasion
–  Laser treatment – Fractional CO2 Laser is considered the gold standard.
–  Punch techniques
–  Dermal grafting
–  Tissue augmenting agents
–  Needling
–  Combined therapies

I have detailed my experience with chemical peels in Chapter 2. Not a fan of chemical peels after the negative experience. I would like to share my experience about microdermabrasion(MD) on my acne scars though. Honestly, I have developed a habit of not looking at myself in the mirror due to my past acne issue, I didn’t observe how bad my scars were. My mum was the one keeping track of my progress. After so many years of doing MD monthly with my aesthetic GP, I would say that I do not have any pitted scars or big pores. According to my mum, she said in my younger days before I had MD treatments, my pores were big and there were holes on my face. So, I guess MD did play a big part in reducing/removing my acne scars. Again, patience is the key. There’s no instant fix.

Hypertrophic and Keloidal – Raised Acne Scars

keloidal scar
This is by far, the most difficult to treat. Hypertrophic and keloidal scars are associated with excess collagen deposition and decreased collagenase activity. Again, only a dermatologist or aesthetic-trained doctor will be able to guide you in treating these severe types of scarring.

–  Silicone Gel – Silicone-based products represent one of the most common and effective solutions in preventing and also in the treatment of hypertrophic acne scars.
–  Intralesional Steroid Therapy
–  Cryotherapy
–  Pulsed Dye Laser
–  Surgery

P.S. If you still have existing acnes, it would be better to clear the acne first before starting these procedures for scar treatment. My dermatologist also advised that acne should be cleared first before moving on to scar treatment.

I trust dermatologists / aesthetic doctors more than beauticians after my bad experience, so I personally would prefer to seek doctors’ help when it comes to such procedures. Furthermore, doctors’ grade machines are stronger than those of beauticians, so results would be more noticeable. Of course, not all doctors are good. Grasping the intensity to use on the different skin types takes experience and using too high an intensity might lead to sensitive skin. The strength of chemical peels to use by the doctor is also crucial. I have had a bad experience with chemical peels with a famous aesthetic GP, causing me to have sensitive skin.

Previously, I go to another aesthetic GP to do microdermabrasion once a month until I relocated. Microdermabrasion helps to remove the outer skin layer and sucks out the whiteheads/blackheads. I saw the strands of whiteheads/blackheads coming out from my nose with my own eyes when the nurse was doing microdermabrasion for me. From then on, I was sold. It’s painless too unlike extractions done in beauty salons. I don’t believe in extractions as if it’s not done properly, it might lead to scarring.

However, I must caution that if we have existing acne outbreak, microdermabrasion will make us break out even more. My GP doesn’t do microdermabrasion for me if I have outbreaks. Instead, we just do a calming and anti-bacterial mask.



About the Author : Jasmine Kang

Founder of Skinlycious – a one stop skin care solution for acne and acne-prone skin. A science geek, who has struggled with acne for 14 long years. Armed with decades of acne-fighting experience and bioscience / pharmaceutical knowledge, she seeks to find solution for her own acne-prone skin. She also takes immense joy in helping people regain confidence by solving their acne woes. Her secret ambition is to rid the world of irritating acne.