Home | Acne scarring: Causes and Treatments

Acne scarring: Causes and Treatments

Acne scarring is caused by inflammation from previous bouts of acne and can appear anywhere on the body. Scarring usually occurs with repeat or severe acne but can also be a complication from seemingly mild breakouts.

Acne sufferers may experience different types of scarring depending on how severe their acne is or how their skin has reacted to the blemishes. The different types of acne scars are classified as:

  • Atrophic scars - Flat, shallow marks that heal below the surface of the skin, usually caused by severe cystic acne. These scars can also be known as ‘boxcar’, ‘icepick’ or ‘rolling’ scars.
  • Hypertrophic and keloid scars - Raised scars formed from too much scar tissue, which are larger than the original pore.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation - A darker or discoloured patch of skin, common with patients who have a darker skin tone or those who have picked at their acne.

What causes acne scarring?

Scars are the result of the body’s natural reaction to acne. The acne itself creates a swelling of the pores and the skin responds by trying to repair the wound with new collagen.

A scar which appears as an indent in the skin (atrophic) can form if there is a loss of tissue: the skin has not managed to repair the deep injury. Alternatively, a scar that is raised on the skin (hypertrophic) can be the result of too much collagen being produced in the repair process.

Some small blemishes create very shallow scarring, which heals naturally with no visible discolouration. However others can break down the wall of the pore and spill into the surrounding tissue, causing deeper scars which may be more visible.

Some acne scars are temporary and will fade with time, while others can be improved or even removed with specialist skin treatments.

How to improve acne scarring

The first step in improving acne scarring is to identify the cause and treat the acne itself. Causes can be diagnosed with an expert consultation and treated with a range of methods, from hormonal medication to dermatological treatments and at-home skincare products.

Once the breakouts improve there are various acne scar treatments available to help improve the appearance of the skin, diminish the visibility of the scars and reduce further scarring.

RELATED: Treatments for blackheads and enlarged pores

Treatments for acne scarring

Chemical Peels

  • Chemical peels are used to treat acne scars by improving the tone, texture and appearance of the skin.
  • Most commonly used to treat scarring on the face, neck or hands, they can help reduce or improve most types of mild acne scarring.
  • They work by removing the top layer of skin, revealing fresh new skin which is usually smoother and less scarred.
  • Patients may need multiple treatments depending on the severity of the scars and it may take time to see the improvements.
  • There are various types of chemical peels available - a dermatologist can advise on the best option depending on the skin type and the severity of the scars.


  • Mesotherapy is used to treat acne scars by lightening the pigmented skin with non-surgical, tiny dermal injections.
  • It works best for acne scars that are discoloured or pitted.
  • The process induces the production of collagen and stimulates new skin cells to grow and repair the area, in a similar way to Microneedling.
  • Treatments penetrate the skin more effectively than topical creams but they need to be repeated every few months to maintain the results.


  • Microneedling helps acne scars on the face by penetrating the skin with multiple tiny needles.
  • It works by encouraging the skin to heal itself with the production of new collagen.
  • It typically penetrates further than Mesotherapy so may be more suitable for deeper or indented scars, rather than raised scarring.
  • Patients may see results after the initial session, but repeat treatments are usually required every 4-6 weeks.


  • PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma treatment is used to treat acne scars by stimulating tissue repair and regeneration.
  • Sometimes known colloquially as the ‘vampire facelift’, PRP helps to diminish acne scars by using the patient’s own blood. The platelets in the blood are separated from red blood cells and then injected into the skin.
  • PRP can be used to treat any area of the body.
  • Usually 3-4 rounds of treatment is recommended for optimal results.

These dermatological treatments work in different ways so it’s important to choose the right process for your skin needs. Book a free consultation with our team to discover which treatments are best for acne scars.