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How to Reduce Acne Scars: Treatments, Products, and Expert Tips


How to Reduce Acne Scars: Treatments, Products, and Expert Tips

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in North America. While it can be difficult to treat, it is not impossible to fight acne breakouts and win. However, the scars it leaves behind can be much more challenging treat, and can even be permanent.

Fortunately, acne scar treatment exists and can help. From skincare products to technology, there are plenty of safe and effective options that can help improve the appearance of scars or marks left behind by acne.

Keep reading to learn about your options!

Acne Marks vs Acne Scars: Is There a Difference?

Before we dive into how you can treat acne scars, you must first be able to make a distinction between acne marks and acne scars. While both are characterized by skin discoloration, acne marks are smooth, rather than raised or indented, and are generally red, pink, and/or brownish in colour. They are technically referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and appear as a result of the skin’s natural response to trauma. Some skin types are more prone to PIH.

These blemishes fade on their own over time, but it can take weeks or months to see improvement. Picking the skin will make acne marks worse and will lengthen the time they need to heal. You can fade acne marks faster by avoiding picking the skin, exfoliating regularly, proper sunscreen use, and using skincare products that have vitamin C, salicylic acid, or retinoids as active ingredients.

Meanwhile, acne scars are a result of more serious acne lesions that have penetrated deeply into the skin. Papules, pustules, nodules, or cystic acne are the most common culprits of acne scarring.

Types of Acne Scars

Several types exist and include:

Boxcar Scars

These develop as a result of overproduction of collagen, and are often characterized by wide depressions with defined, steep edges. Usually found on the lower cheeks and jawline, boxcar scars look similar to chicken pox scars.

Rolling Scars

Rolling scars also appear as deep indents on the skin. These depressed acne scars are wider than 4-5 millimetres and often look rounded with a rougher texture and sloping edges, making the surrounding skin appear uneven. Due to their size and appearance, rolling scars may be more difficult to hide or treat.

A person with rolling scars on the skin of their face

Icepick Scars

Icepick scars have earned their name for causing the skin to appear as if punctured by an icepick. They also look like enlarged pores, and due to their depth and narrow impressions are typically more difficult to treat than other types of acne scars.

Treating Acne Scars With Skincare Solutions

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating acne scars. However, consistent use of medical-grade skincare products that contain the following ingredients can help control acne and reduce the appearance of scarring:

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a group of acids that work best on acne scars with hyperpigmentation or discolouration. They help by exfoliating the skin and removing dead skin cells, allowing new cells to regenerate faster.

Products that contain AHAs promote collagen, correct skin discolouration caused by acne scars and age spots, and smoothen and brighten up the skin.

Some types of AHAs commonly used in skin care products include:

  • Citric acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Hydroxycaproic acid
  • Malic acid
  • Tartaric acid

According to research, glycolic and lactic acid are the most effective types of AHAs for fading acne scars and acne marks, and are less likely to irritate the skin.


A derivative of vitamin A, retinoids are an essential ingredient in many skincare products due to their anti-aging, acne-fighting, and collagen-boosting properties. These can also prevent acne scars from becoming a permanent fixture on your face, as retinoids encourage rapid skin cell turnover.

It is recommended to invest in medical-grade skincare products for the most dramatic results. Over-the-counter products are typically less potent and less effective.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from willow bark. It can target and fight persistent acne breakouts, particularly whiteheads and blackheads. Salicylic acid works by dissolving skin impurities and unclogging pores. It also has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and can improve the appearance of acne scars.

Cosmetic Treatments for Acne Scars

While it is good practice to follow a solid skincare routine to prevent various skin concerns, treating severe acne scars can be difficult if you are only relying on topical ointments and serums. Combining good skincare with in-clinic cosmetic treatments can lead to faster and more dramatic results. The following procedures are effective options to consider for treating acne scars:

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are temporary injectable gels that can be composed of hyaluronic acid (i.e. Juvederm®, Belotero®), calcium hydroxyapatite (Radiesse®), or poly-l-lactic acid (Sculptra®). Another filler, Bellafill®, is longer-lasting and made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) beads suspended in collagen. Fillers can be used to treat ice pick or boxcar acne scars, and work by filling in depressed acne scars to even out rough skin.

Clinical Peel

Chemical peels or clinical peels are useful for smoothing and brightening the skin, while fading pigmented acne scars and acne marks. They also help improve fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, dull skin, and uneven texture.

The AHA Duo, Glow Peel, and Renew 20/10 are popular choices for acne scarring.

A woman getting a chemical peel applied to her face


Microneedling is a cosmetic treatment that works best for depressed acne scars. During this procedure, tiny needles create thousands of micro-channels in the skin, stimulating new, healthy collagen without downtime. A series of microneedling treatments typically offers visible improvements in acne scars as well as other textural concerns.

Steroid Injections

Steroid injections are an effective way to reduce the size of thick, raised scars, while reducing inflammation. Acne scar injections typically contain corticosteroids and are a fast and fuss-free procedure – usually delivered as a series of injections spaced out every few weeks.

Light Therapies

Light therapy utilizes an intense but gentle beam of light to fade acne scarring without damaging the surrounding tissue. It can also reduce inflammation associated with acne, as well as prevent future breakouts – all without downtime. Forever Clear BBL is one option that was designed specifically for acne-prone skin.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Ablative and non-ablative resurfacing lasers work at specific depths in the skin to break down scar tissue and stimulate new, healthy collagen. They can also improve lingering pigmentation from acne breakouts and overall skin texture. Halo® hybrid fractional laser combines two wavelengths to effectively treat multiple skin concerns at once including acne scars, acne marks, and enlarged pores.


Hydrafacial utilizes vortex technology and LED light therapy to deep cleanse, exfoliate, hydrate, and rejuvenate the skin. Although suitable for all skin types, it can be customized to treat acne-prone skin and help reduce the appearance of acne marks. Hydrafacial is an enjoyable treatment, and one that can be combined with other acne scar treatments for optimal results.

Botox Injections

Well-known for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, Botox may also reduce the appearance of acne scars. The injection relaxes the muscles in the affected area to help limit the amount of stress affecting the scar tissue. This may improve the overall appearance of scarring.

Solve Your Skin Issues With APT Medical Aesthetics

Treating all types of acne scars can be challenging, and often requires the help of skincare professionals. At APT Medical Aesthetics we offer a variety of acne scar treatments and can not wait to guide you on your journey to clear, healthy skin. From medical-grade products to professional treatments, we can help you achieve the results you desire.

Contact us or book an appointment today!


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Contact APT Medical Aesthetics now.

Contact APT Medical Aesthetics now. Whether you want to book a consultation, find out more about our services, or simply want to ask a few questions, we would love to hear from you!

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    Contact APT Medical Aesthetics now. Whether you want to book an appointment, find out a bit more about our services, or want to simply ask a few questions, we would love to hear from you!

    APT Medical Aesthetics Ltd. is world-class private complete skin care clinic in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, serving Oakville. We
    provide our treatments in a safe, trusting, comfortable environment. Our clinic is pleased to offer the most advanced and comprehensive skin care solutions
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