What Is Acne Scarring?

Acne scarring commonly occurs in people who have had acne in the past. When the skin's healing process is disrupted, scars or indentations form on the skin. Acne scarring describes the permanent marks or indentations left on the skin after acne has healed. These scars can vary in appearance and severity, ranging from shallow depressions to deep pits, and can be either raised or indented. Acne scarring can be emotionally distressing for some people, and if you find that it makes you feel less confident in your appearance, you are not alone.

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Who Gets Acne Scars?

Acne scarring can affect anyone who has experienced severe or chronic acne. You may be more likely to develop acne scars than others if you struggle with more severe and persistent acne or you pick at or squeeze your acne lesions. Individuals with darker skin tones may develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) after acne, which can contribute to the appearance of acne scarring. Overall, anyone who has experienced acne can potentially develop acne scarring.

Types of Acne Scars

Atrophic Scars

Depressed scars form when the skin does not produce enough collagen while healing. Atrophic scars can be classified into three subtypes:

  • Icepick scars: Deep and narrow scars that look like small holes in the skin
  • Boxcar scars: Wider and shallower scars with sharply defined edges
  • Rolling scars: Broad scars with a wavy texture caused by damage to the skin's underlying support structure

Hypertrophic Scars

Raised scars form when the skin produces too much collagen during the healing process. Hypertrophic scars are usually thick and firm, and they remain within the boundaries of the original acne spot. These scars are more common in people with darker skin tones and in areas where the skin is under tension or stress, such as the chest, back, and shoulders. Although challenging to get rid of, the appropriate treatment can often improve their appearance, making them less noticeable over time.

Keloid Scars

Similar to hypertrophic scars, keloid scars are raised, thick, and often larger than the original acne wound. These scars happen due to an overproduction of collagen while healing, which leads to excess scar tissue forming beyond the initial injury's boundaries. Keloid scars can be itchy, tender, and painful and can significantly impact a person's self-esteem. They can develop after any damage to the skin, including acne, and are more common in people with darker skin tones or a genetic predisposition.

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Acne Scarring Treatment Options

Chemical Peels

Applying a chemical solution to the skin removes the top layer and stimulates collagen production. Chemical peels can reduce the appearance of mild to moderate acne scars.

Laser Resurfacing

For mild to severe acne scars, a concentrated beam of laser light can remove the outer layer of skin while stimulating collagen production. 

Dermal Fillers

By injecting a substance, such as hyaluronic acid, into the skin, dermal fillers can fill in the depressions caused by acne scars, giving the skin a more even texture.


With the use of a microneedling device with tiny needles, micro-injuries are created in the skin, stimulating collagen production and improving the appearance of acne scars.

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Start a New Chapter Without Acne Scars

Advancements in dermatology and skincare have made it possible to minimize the appearance of acne scarring on your complexion. While you may need multiple treatments to achieve the desired results, our medical providers at Skin Care Doctors can customize a plan suitable for your skin type to help you start a new chapter without the remnants of your persistent acne days. Contact our office today to learn more about the options we have available.

Better skin health starts here. Schedule your appointment today.

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