Updated: 11/1/17. Most everyone will experience some sort of breakouts, blackheads or clogged pores as teenagers. Unfortunately, some people also experience more severe cystic and nodular acne. This is the kind that can permanently damage the skin and cause indents and deep acne scarring that last a lifetime. As an esthetician and skin care expert, a common question I get is, “How can I smooth out the indents in my face from acne scars?”
Fortunately, there are many things you can do at home. If you choose to seek treatment from a dermatologist or cosmetic professional, you have even more options. A home care regimen should focus on exfoliation, collagen regeneration, and sun protection. When used regularly, this combination can dramatically create a smoother texture with fewer visible indentations. The sooner you start it, the better.
Note: For any other types of skin indents, whether it’s lines, wrinkles, large pores or a chicken pox scars, the protocol is actually pretty much the same. Regardless of the cause, all skin indentations benefit from smoothing the skin’s texture.
Before you read on, if you’re not dealing with indented scarring in the skin and simply have red, dark or purple marks leftover from recent breakouts, you can use this product as a spot treatment to fade those.
Tips to smooth out indents from acne scars
Use a retinol product or a prescription retinoid.
As you can read in this post, I’m a huge believer in what retinol and prescription retinoids can do to heal acne scars and smooth the skin. Yes, it’s still important to get professional treatments like chemical peels that work deeper within the skin to affect change (more on that below). However, using an at-home retinol treatment at least five nights at week will dramatically improve the skin’s texture, without a spa or office visit. It’s essentially like giving your skin mini peels at home.
If your skin is sensitive and can’t tolerate Retin A or other prescription retinoids, your skin will likely respond more favorably to a strong over-the-counter version like Advanced Resurfacing Serum. Use it faithfully and you’ll get results. I promise. Like any well-formulated retinol product, you won’t see results overnight. With continued use, though, the skin will look better and better. New to retinol or prescription retinoids? Read my beginner’s guide to retinol.
Wear sunscreen every single day—rain or shine.
You’ll never get great results from these suggestions if you do not wear sunscreen every single day. The sun’s UV rays cause damage to the skin by breaking down collagen.
In addition, acne can leave behind dark, red or purple scars that can linger for months. UV rays stimulate melanin cells, so anytime your scars are they’ll appear darker, redder, and will be visible longer. UV rays don’t just affect you on sunny days spent outdoors; they can easily penetrate the windows in your home, office, or car. Bottom line: wear a sunscreen moisturizer 365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out.
For acne-prone skin, it’s very important to find a sunscreen formula that doesn’t clog the pores or encourage breakouts. If you want an extremely lightweight sunscreen formulated for breakout-prone, sensitive skin, Daily Protection SPF 30 is perfect for you.
Schedule a professional chemical peel.
Your esthetician or skin care professional should suggest a series of peels appropriate for the severity of your scarring.
What is a chemical peel? During a chemical peel, a professional will apply a chemical solution (acid) to the face. This removes and exfoliates the outer layers of skin. As a result, a clearer, more evenly pigmented, glowing layer of skin appears. The new, regenerated skin is smoother than the old skin. Peels also work beneath the surface to encourage the stimulation of fibroblasts. These aid in the creation of new collagen.
As you’re going through the peel process, the new skin will temporarily be more vulnerable to the sun. So daily use of sunscreen is especially imperative during this time. Depending on the type of peel, you may need to repeat treatments every 2-6 weeks to achieve desired results. You can also maintain results by using Triple Berry Smoothing Peel. This peel helps both resurface the skin as well as lift away discoloration left over from blemishes.
*Caution: when it comes to chemical peels, it’s extremely important that the person administering the treatment is well-versed and experienced. If the peel isn’t left on long enough, you won’t see results. On the other hand, if it’s left on too long, you may run the risk of potential damage. Be sure to do your due diligence and get a trusted referral. Here are 5 questions you should ask when consulting with a skin professional.
Get injectable fillers, if needed.
Certain cosmetic dermal fillers such as Restylane and Juvederm will help lift the depressed scar. The effect is temporary, only lasting anywhere from 6-12 months. Be sure you consult with a reputable nurse or cosmetic dermatologist to see which type of filler may be best your skin.
Consider ablative laser resurfacing, if needed.
This should be your last resort if your pitted scars are deep and you’re not seeing desired results from chemical peels. With ablative laser resurfacing, a laser destroys the epidermis and heats the dermis. This, then, leads to collagen destruction and subsequent regrowth. You’ll have a wound after this treatment. After it all heals, new smoother and tighter skin forms. Ablative laser resurfacing can be harsh, but results are often dramatic and may last for years.
There is also fractional laser resurfacing, which is a newer technique. This can be nearly as good as non-fractional ablative resurfacing, but it may take more treatments to achieve the same results. If you decide to proceed with skin resurfacing, you might need to take a number of preparatory steps.
These include taking an antiviral or antibacterial medication to prevent infection, applying a retinoid skin cream to help prepare the skin and stopping certain medications, such as drugs, to prevent blood clots. You should definitely stop smoking, too, as it can interfere with healing.
Consider gaining weight.
I know this might sound strange, but gaining weight leads to larger fat cells underneath the skin. This gives a natural plumpness to the skin that can fill scars as well as lines, wrinkles and pores.
Severe acne scarring can be a challenge to improve but if you’re really committed to it, you can definitely create a significantly smoother texture. if you are someone who is currently dealing with severe cystic acne, consider using this product. It’s a great alternative to cortisone shots. I also suggest that you read through all of these acne posts to get my expert advice for getting it under control.
Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!