Ban A. Vu, MD, medical director
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Laser Acne Scar Reduction

How does the laser work on acne scars?
To treat brown hyperpigmented scars, the laser works by penetrating deep into the dermis, where it will break up the brownish/purplish pigment left in the skin after a pimple heals. To treat atrophic (depression) acne scars, the laser penetrates the skin to target the building blocks of skin, namely collagen and fibroblasts, causing a controlled thermal injury that alters the structure of these building blocks. In time, they regenerate to repair acne scars and soften the edges of the the depression scar. For pigmented acne scars, the laser creates and auto-mechanical and auto-accoustic effect to breakup the pigmented lesions. Your body’s immune system will scavenge these particles to clear away the discoloration much faster than normal.

Do I need to do any preparation before laser treatments?
No, there is no pretreatment required before laser treatments, however, you should avoid sun exposure for 2 wks before and 2 wks after laser treatment. Immediately before treatment, your skin should be thoroughly cleaned to remove makeup, oil, sunscreen, or any other possible contaminants to allow the laser direct access to its target. In some cases, topical anesthetic may be applied pretreatment.

Does it hurt?
Patients often describe the sensation similar to a rubber band snap against the skin. For patients who feel uncomfortable during treatment, topical anesthetics are available.

How many treatments are required?
Generally, you will need several sessions of laser acne scar treatment to realize good results. For brown acne scars, we recommend approximately 4 treaments, and for atrophic deep scarring we recommend a series of 8 treatments, spaced two weeks apart for the initial phase of treatment. If the improvement is adequate, no additional treatments are necessary. However, if you have very severe scarring, you may return 6 months after the initial course of treatment and continue with another 8 week course.

When will I see results?
For brown hyperpigemented scars that are new, you will see these disappear gradually over a period of 1-4 weeks. For older scars, multiple treatments are necessary to see the results. You may also apply a topical bleaching agent to speed up the lightening process. For atrophic (depression scars), you will begin to see improvement after the 3rd or 4th session, however, your skin will continue to build collagen over time, so the final results of your treatment will be realized approximately 6 months after your last treatment session.

Can I go back to work after my treatment?
If we are treating the brown scars, you can generally go back to work immediately without any downtime. You can even apply makeup. In order to effectively treat atrophic (deep, pitted) scars, you will usually need to take an afternoon off to heal. You skin may appear somewhat red, a bit swollen, or a bit bruised for several hours after treatment, but you may return to work the next day.

Need additional information?
For additional information, please contact our office at 832-300-5593, email us at, or visit our website at

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