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Laser Treatment of Acne Scars

Acne can be a devastating condition for numerous reasons.  Not only are there physical lesions and scars, but there is also a large emotional component as well.  To add insult to injury, it all happens in the years after puberty when we begin dating and relationships.

Acne is basically a bacterial disease where the bacteria live deep in the pores and oil glands in the skin.  Many myths exist about causes and treatments of acne.  Good hygiene and antibiotics that attack the bacteria (called P. Acnes) are mainstays of treatment along with topical preparations.  Severe cases of acne require a dermatologist prescribing Accutane which suppresses the sebaceous (oil) glands. The early diagnosis and treatment of acne is imperative to prevent scarring which can last for a lifetime.  Unfortunately, many children do not ever receive treatment for acne and regret the scars forever.

There are numerous options for treating acne scars including scar release (subcision), filler injection, surgical excision and laser skin resurfacing.  Of all the treatments, laser skin resurfacing has proven to be the gold standard since the 1990’s.  Laser treatment can mean different things to different doctors.  I still perform “old school” (full coverage ablative laser) CO2 laser, which again has not been surpassed by any other type of laser for acne, scar and wrinkle treatment.  This type of “heavy” laser requires IV sedation and the recovery is not a picnic. It is not very painful, but the patient is swollen.  It takes about 10 days for primary healing and the patient will be pink for several weeks after that.  Most patients take 10-12 days off for full coverage ablative laser.

There are newer less invasive lasers called fractional lasers.  These lasers have become very popular because they can be done on awake patients and have shorter recovery.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the same result as the full coverage ablative CO2 laser.  With laser result, you get what you pay for.  Not in terms of money, but it terms of recovery.  Lasers that heal in several days provide very little result, lasers that heal in two weeks provide maximum results.

Most patients with acne scars will require multiple treatments for maximal results.  The patient shown below underwent full face full coverage ablative CO2 laser.  There is an obvious improvement in the patient’s acne scars after a single treatment.  The patient will undergo at least one additional laser treatment and some patients continue treating after that.  Although the skin will never be perfect, the annoying scars are usually greatly improved.


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For more information about laser surgery or cosmetic facial surgery in general visit

Joe Niamtu, III DMD

Cosmetic Facial Surgery

Richmond, Virginia

Office Address

Joe Niamtu III, DMD
11319 Polo Place
Midlothian, VA 23113

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

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