Acne can be painful and humiliating, especially when it leaves unsightly scars that can last for years after the fact. While some scars are small and barely noticeable, others are deep holes sometimes referred to as potholes, divots, pock marks, pits or craters. Although they can be difficult to treat, there are a number of options available, both at home and in the dermatologist's office.
What Causes Potholes
The extent to which someone will experience scarring is based on genetics, the severity of the original acne lesions, the delay in treating the pimples and whether the acne lesions were picked or squeezed. To prevent acne scars from developing, consult a dermatologist if you're suffering from a severe breakout and be sure to allow lesions to heal properly—don't pop zits!
Professional Non-Invasive Treatments
The Mayo Clinic recommends a number of professional treatments for deeply indented acne scars, some more invasive than others. Laser treatments, where a beam destroys the top layer of skin, allowing new, healthy skin to grow in its place, is one option. Dermabrasion uses a brush with rotating bristles to exfoliate the skin, remove surface scars and reduce deeper ones. Chemical peels may also do the trick.
Professional Invasive Treatments
Individuals with very deep craters may benefit from a surgical procedure called punch excision. Here, acne scars are cut out and refilled using skin grafts. Collagen injections that plump up the skin beneath the scar, evening out the skin surface, are another option. Keep in mind that results are temporary and injections need to be done on a regular basis.
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If you don't want to fork over hundreds of dollars for a professional microdermabrasion session, you can purchase an at-home handheld microderm device created especially for treating acne scars. Dermatologist Gervaise Gerstner told Elle magazine that using such a machine on a high-vacuum setting can help to even out and fade deep, dark scars. Look for a machine that has two diamond tips: the dual tip will help to break down scar tissue. Creams containing licorice root extract, turmeric root powder and mushroom extract can also help to lighten dark scars.
Chloé Baudin has been a health and lifestyle writer and editor since 2008. She has contributed to online and print magazines, covering personal finance, home decor, travel, preventative health, sports, science, technology, psychology and relationships.