Acne Scar Treatments

Acne Scar Treatments

The Acne Specialist Clinic at Westside Laser Dermatology is one of Australia’s leading clinics for the treatment of acne and acne scarring. We treat more than 3500 patients per year in our Brisbane clinic. Specialists employ various methods of scar revision based upon your acne scar type, skin type, and downtime to find the very best treatment for you.

Our procedures include Fraxel, CO2, Erbium and EMatrix Fractional resurfacing. We also perform subscision, dermal grafting, Dermapen needling, dermal fillers, punch excision and elevation and TCA Cross Chemical peels.


  • There are various types of acne scars, each treated with different methods
  • Acne scars can be significantly reduced by a number of methods including fractionated laser resurfacing, subscision, and chemical peels
  • Finding a specialist trained in all methods of acne scar treatment gives patients the best outcome
  • Fractional laser resurfacing is the revolutionary method of treating acne scars- minimizing patient down time, and maximizing results
  • Controlled heating from laser resurfacing denatures and remodels acne scars
  • Depending on scar types, downtime and skin colour we have a selection of Fractional Laser, including Fraxel, Profractinal, and CO2
  • Specialist most often combine lasers and surgical methods to yield the best results possible
  • Mapping scar types and matching with the optimal treatment gives the best results
  • If you are thinking of acne scar revision, always consider getting a Specialist opinion prior to treatments
  • Medicare rebates apply to many acne scar procedures performed by Specialist Dermatologists

Acne scarring results from injury to the deeper dermal layers of the skin. Acne scars most commonly occur as a result of intense inflammation such as rupture of the pilosebaceous unit or oil glands. This inflammation disrupts the evenly ordered structure of collagen which results in acne scarring.

To repair the scarring, one must remodel old collagen and rebuild new collagen, restoring the even structure of the skin. This forms the basis of scar revision.

The first concept to grasp is that acne scars lie deep in the skin.  This means that superficial treatments like microdermabrasion cannot reach the depths required to treat acne scarring.  In order to effectively cure acne scars, we must treat the dermis to remodel collagen.

Acne scarring is a specialist field in itself. Scars maybe present at different depths and types, and in different skin types. All cases of acne scarring are assessed individually and a treatment plan tailored to the clinical examination of the patient.

Laser treatment of acne scars

Our Specialist center has 12 lasers, each with a specific role. Patients with acne scars types are matched according to which laser is BEST for their scars. Early and mild scarring respond best to Fraxel 1927 or the Fraxel 1550 (ideal for scars), whilst severe scars respond best to a combination of CO2 plus Erbium laser. Early scars respond best to RadioFrequency with Ematrix, whilst scar in darker skin types respond best to Erbium Profractional laser. Red flat scars respond well to IPL and V Beam or 755 Alex laser.

Sounds confusing? It’s because Westside Laser Dermatology tailors a program based upon your scar type, skin type and downtime- no cook book programs at our center.

More on acne laser treatments

High strength TCA peels

TCA Cross is a method used for treating isolated deep ice pick scars. Application of high strength Trichloroacetic acid encourages collagen formation, lifting deep scars. Several treatments are advised. Ice pick scars are notoriously difficult to treat, they do not respond to Fractionated laser resurfacing/ Fraxel treatments.

More information on TCA cross for acne scars

Skin needling/ Roll Kit / Derm Rollers / Dermapen

With the event of Fraxel and Fractionated laser systems, the use of skin needling has seen a steady decline over the past 2 years. Skin needling uses a medical grade roller to puncture minute columns in the skin, reaching deeper layers to stimulate collagen formation. Several treatments are needed. Skin needling is safe on all skin types including darker ethnic skin. Fraxel and ProFractional systems generally perform 30-60% BETTER than needling.  Recovery time is in the order of 3 to 7 days. Expect to see between 20% to 30% improvement with each session of skin needling or Dermapen. Do not be confused, skin needling is NOT laser fractional resurfacing. The controlled heat with lasers provides superior collagen remodeling than DERMAPEN treatments.

More information on skin needling

Subscision

This surgical technique is often combined with Fraxel / ProFractional laser systems to treat deep bound down scars. This technique breaks down collagen that puckers the scar downwards. The surrounding scar is injected with local anesthesia, and a needle is inserted to run parallel to the skin to deeper structures. Release of the bands that bind down the scar visibly lifts the scar, smoothing the skin’s appearance. Punch excision can also be used to treat deeper ice pick scars.

Chemical peels

AHA peels can be of benefit in cases of mild acne scarring. Glycolic acid peels can stimulate collagen early in the course of scar repair as well as improve skin texture. Once acne is under control with various acne treatments, patients have the option of the Clear Skin Program – a series of AHA peels alternating with Red Light LED treatment.

More information on the Clear Skin Program

Dermal fillers / dermal grafting

This method maybe effective in treating depressed scars. Fillers last 4-18months. Dermal grafts for acne scars last longer. We prefer to use dermal fillers rather than dermal grafts due to the 5-10% complication rates of dermal grafting.

More on Dermal Grafts and Fillers

Blue and red light treatments

These wavelengths of light have been effective in treating acne and acne scarring. Treatments are best conducted early in the process of scarring. Improvements can be expected in mild cases of acne scarring.  A series of treatments are advised. The wavelength of red light has been shown to stimulate collagen formation, and aid in wound recovery. We often combine LED treatments with Fraxel/ Fractionated laser resurfacing and chemical peels for added benefits. Blue light can temporarilytreat acne, and is NOT recommended as a cure for acne.

More on OMNILUX Blue Light therapy

Corticosteroid injections

This method is used to treat raised scars- hypertrophic or keloid scarring. These scars generally occur on the upper back, chest, shoulders and jawline areas and present as hard lumpy areas. Several courses of injections can flatten out these areas over time. The result is generally excellent.Fractional laser can also reduce the hardness of these scars, however 3-4 treatments are often needed.

The successful treatment of acne scarring is a major challenge to treating specialist. For the patient acne scarring can be traumatic and distressing. In the past scar treatments have had limited success however with the evolution of new laser technology, patients can expect to see significant improvements with little down time. Fraxel or fractionated laser resurfacing has revolutionized acne scar treatments.

It is important to realize that patients will often have a mixture of scars and choosing a specialist skilled in performing all procedures will give the best outcome.

The best method for acne scar revision is not necessarily laser treatment. As specialist Dermatologists we are taught to revise scars based upon acne scar type, skin type and downtime of the patient.

Here are some examples of other techniques that are used ahead of lasers for acne scars:

  • Deep or ice pick scars should always be raised before laser treatment. Procedures such as punch excision and TCA-CROSS are far more superior compared to Fraxel or even fully ablative lasers.
  • Puckered or tethered anchored scars should be treated with a specialised technique called subscision.
  • Deep depressions and atrophic scars are best treated with a combination of lasers and dermal fillers.
  • Lumpy scars, most common on the back, chest, shoulders and jawline are best treated with a series of corticosteroid injections.

Laser however can be the best method for treating box-car scars, mild atrophic scars, and raised ice pick scars. Most patients will have a mixture of acne scars, and hence why laser is just another method in our tool kit for getting the job done. 90% of the time, it’s the experience of the operator, and not just the tools!

Finding a specialist skilled in all aspects of acne scar revision will give you the very best results possible.

Fracionated laser treatment (Fraxel , ProFractional ) produces hundreds of tiny but deep mico-columns of treatment into your areas of scarring. Each column is the diameter of your hair shaft. Laser ablates the scars and old collagen, but also leaves areas of your skin untouched, forming the basis of Fraxel/ fractional laser treatments. For every micro column the laser treats, it leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected and intact. This fractional treatment allows your skin to heal much quicker than if the entire surface was treated at once as the untreated area heals the wound by removing the treated skin and replacing it with new tissue.

The advantage of treating skin this way is that there is less downtime and side effects while obtaining a significant clinical improvement. This type of scar treatment is also safe in darker skin types such as in Asian skin.

With deeper scars, CO2 laser can be used during fractionated laser resurfacing. With this technique more collagen stimulation is achieved, however down time approaches 7-10 days. Your treating specialist will discuss a treatment plan to give you the best possible results, and balance your downtime.

Trusting a physician to revise scars can be daunting form many patients as acne scars can be a complex mixture of scar types.  Assessing your type of scarring and medical history is the very first step in acne scar revision.

Laser trained and procedural dermatologist are best equipped with expertise and the latest technology to give optimal results to our patients. At Westside Laser Dermatology, all major laser and surgical treatments are performed by our highly qualified Dermatologists; so you can be sure that you are in experienced hands.

Less invasive fractional resurfacing or Dermapen Skin Fractional Needling are conducted by our highly trained laser nurses.

Call us directly on 07 3871 3437 to make an appointment, or to discuss issues regarding the referral process.

Westside Laser Dermatology is a Specialist Clinic, we are not cosmetic physicians, nor do are we a ‘Laser Center’. Our procedures, techniques, training, and equipment are of the very highest standards. We do not sell procedures, nor do we sell products – our mission is simple, ‘Clinic of excellence for Acne Scar Revision’

Our center has 4 Queensland Health Accredited laser suites. Academically we are affiliated as a teaching institution for the Griffith School of Medicine, and the College of Dermatology.

Our Specialist staff, including dermatologists and nurses, are National and International lecturers and trainers. We also sit on numerous laser advisor boards. Our center also conducts trials, research and academic papers on acne scar treatments presented Nationally and Internationally.

For an unbiased opinion on who is best qualified to treat your acne and acne scarring, consult your GP for further advice.

The first step in the management of acne scars is identifying the type or types of scars you have. This is the most important step, and hence an assessment by our Specialist Laser Dermatologists is essential.

Once acne scar types are identified, we can then plan a program based upon your scar type, skin type (skin colour) and downtime.

Our specialists can give you a realistic percentage improvement, as well as a time frame and costs associated with scar revision.

Scar revision is ideally conducted when acne is under control. This ensures that new acne lesions do not scar. If acne scar revision is conducted when acne is still active, patients and dermatologist end up ‘chasing’ scars- a frustrating way to deal with scars for both! A new method to remodel new acne scars whilst on treatment is the ACNE FREE RF PROGRAM. This program is safe for patients who are on Roaccutane.

More information on Acne Free RF Program

Fracionated laser treatments (Fraxel, ProFractional, CO2, eMatrix (radio frequency)) produce hundreds of tiny but deep micro-columns of energy into the areas of scarring. Each column is the diameter of your hair shaft. Laser ablates the scars and old collagen, but also leaves areas of your skin untouched, forming the basis of Fraxel/fractionated laser treatments.

For every micro-column the laser emits, it leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected and intact. This fractionated treatment allows your skin to heal much quicker than if the entire surface was treated at once as the untreated area heals the wound by removing the treated skin and replacing it with new tissue.

The advantage of treating skin this way is that there is less downtime and less side effects whilst still obtaining significant acne scar improvements. This type of scar treatment is also safe in darker skin types such as in Asian skin.

With deeper scars, CO2 lasers can be used as a form of fractionated laser resurfacing. With this technique more heat is injected into the dermis, and more collagen stimulation is achieved, however due to the extra heat it increases the downtime; approximately 7-10 days.

The choice of what fractionated device is used, is based upon your skin type, scar type, and downtime.

Laser procedures are performed at Westside Dermatology in one of our four Queensland Health accredited laser theatres.

We conduct laser procedures at a SPECIALIST MEDICAL LEVEL, much like minor day surgical procedures. This ensures the highest level of safety, comfort and sterility for every patient.

Your laser experience will be in this order:

  • Patients are required to arrive 60 minutes prior to their procedure time.
  • During the 60 minutes prior to the treatment further planning will be performed, medications will be prescribed and the topical anaesthetic applied.
  • Then its off to the laser operating theatre.
  • The treatment area is then cleansed and your eye protection provided.
  • The procedure normally takes anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes.  Your treating Dermatologist may elect to use 2-3 different lasers on particular scar types.
  • Depending on the medication provided you may be required to remain in the clinic for up to 60 minutes following treatment.
  • It is always encouraged that you are transported home with a relative or friend.

At Westside Dermatology, your laser session is conducted to the highest specialist medical and operational standards.

Dr Davin Lim
Cosmetic Dermatologist,
Westside Laser Dermatology

Confidence in the treating specialist is important for any patients undergoing acne scar revision. The use of the very best equipment, coupled with the best training will give superior results. Due to the different types of acne scarring, in addition to different skin types, acne scar revision will need to be individualised for patients to achieve optimal outcomes. I often use numerous methods in the one patient including punch excision of deeper scars, subscision, and Fractional Laser. Assessment, planning and discussion of treatments options are the very important prior to any acne scar revision process.

For very mild and early acne scars, Fractional Ematrix RadioFrequency can improve scars by 50-70%. We have demonstrated the safety of this treatment with Roaccutane- as part of our Acne Free RF Program.

Severe, long-standing acne scars are best treated with our Synergy Program of scar revision. This process utilizes various laser, light, and surgical techniques over a 6-8 month period. No matter how severe acne scarring is, treatments are always possible.