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Understanding acne scars: Types, treatments, and myths

What are acne scars?

Acne scars are caused by inflammation resulting from acne blemishes. They serve as reminders of acne outbreaks and are not confined solely to the face; they can also appear on the chest and back. These scars come in various forms, each with its own textures and appearance. In this article, we will delve into the different types of acne scars, their treatments, the identification process, myths, how to reduce the risk of developing them, and when to seek medical attention.

Acne scars are caused by inflammation resulting from acne blemishes. They serve as reminders of acne outbreaks and are not confined solely to the face; they can also appear on the chest and back. These scars come in various forms, each with its own textures and appearance. In this article, we will delve into the different types of acne scars, their treatments, the identification process, myths, how to reduce the risk of developing them, and when to seek medical attention.

What are the different types of acne scars | Curamed

What are the different types of acne scars?

There are two primary types of acne scars: atrophic and hypertrophic. Additionally, there are keloid scars, which are less common but still noteworthy.

Atrophic Scars

Atrophic scars are depressions or hollows in the skin, typically resulting from tissue loss during the healing process. They are more prevalent compared to hypertrophic scars and encompass several subtypes:

  • Icepick Scars:

Icepick scars are small, deep pits resembling tiny puncture wounds on the skin’s surface. They tend to be narrow and V-shaped, resembling the mark of a sharp instrument.

  • Boxcar Scars:

These scars are wider and possess well-defined edges, creating the appearance of rectangular or box-like depressions in the skin. Boxcar scars can vary in size and depth.

  • Rolling Scars:

Rolling scars are characterized by their wave-like texture, often giving the skin an uneven appearance. They result from fibrous bands tethering the skin to deeper structures.

Hypertrophic Scars

In contrast to atrophic scars, which result from tissue loss, hypertrophic scars represent an overgrowth of tissue. They occur due to a loss of collagen during the healing process, appearing visibly raised above the surrounding skin and often appearing pink or red. They also tend to be thicker compared to unaffected skin.

Keloid Scars

Keloid scars represent an exaggerated response to the skin’s healing process. Unlike hypertrophic scars, keloids extend beyond the boundaries of the original injury, creating raised, sometimes massive, and often irregularly shaped scars. However, they share similarities with hypertrophic scars in being firm to the touch and appearing raised above the surrounding skin.

What causes acne scars?

Acne scars are caused by the body’s natural healing process in response to acne lesions or blemishes. When you experience an acne breakout, the skin becomes inflamed as it attempts to heal and repair the damage caused by acne. This healing process can sometimes lead to scar formation.

The causes of acne scars are not limited to inflammation but can also result from several factors, such as:


Acne lesions represent infections or blockages within hair follicles or pores. The body’s immune system responds to these infections by initiating an inflammatory response, sending white blood cells to combat bacteria and initiate the healing process. However, this inflammation can sometimes damage surrounding skin tissue, leading to scar formation.

Picking at pimples:

A common cause of acne scars is constantly picking, squeezing, or popping pimples. This action can introduce bacteria into the affected area, potentially worsening the condition and causing tissue damage, increasing the risk of scarring.

Delay in treatment:

Delaying acne treatment can exacerbate the problem, leading to more severe outbreaks and an increased risk of scarring. Seeking advice from a healthcare provider when symptoms of an acne outbreak first appear is recommended to assess the condition’s severity and receive tailored treatment.

Improper acne treatment:

While numerous products and treatments are available for acne, improper management can worsen the issue and lead to undesirable consequences. This can result from myths and misunderstandings about how to handle acne, such as resorting to aggressive treatments in search of quick results.

Dermal Fillers treatment for acne scars | Curamed Aesthetics Clinic Singapore

What are the different types of treatment for acne scars?

Dermal Fillers:

Dermal fillers are a popular option for treating certain types of acne scars, particularly atrophic or depressed scars. These fillers typically consist of substances like hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite, or poly-L-lactic acid.


During treatment, the filler is applied to the depressed scar, elevating it to the level of the surrounding skin.


Dermal fillers provide immediate results, with the scar appearing smoother and less noticeable right after the application. Results can last anywhere from several months to a year or more, depending on the type of filler used.


Subcision is a common acne scar treatment that uses a needle to break up fibrous scar tissue beneath the skin’s surface.


Subcision is performed by using a needle to gently remove scar tissues. It can also stimulate the production of collagen, alleviating the appearance of acne scars by encouraging the regeneration of scar tissues.


Subcision allows depressed scars to rise and become less noticeable, resulting in improved skin texture.

BB Thulium:

BB Thulium is a specific type of fractional laser used to improve skin texture and treat acne scars, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and enlarged pores.


This treatment delivers laser energy to the skin to stimulate collagen production and improve the appearance of scars.


BB Thulium laser treatments can lead to increased production of collagen and elastin, resulting in smoother skin and reduced acne scar visibility. Additionally, it can give you a firmer and tighter complexion, restoring tissues and giving you a rejuvenated glow.

Carbon Laser Peel:

Carbon laser peel, which may also be referred to as Carbon Laser Facial, is a non-invasive treatment. It combines the application of a specialised carbon lotion onto the skin with the precision of laser technology to achieve a dual purpose of exfoliation and rejuvenation.


The carbon lotion is applied to the skin before the laser treatment, aiding in exfoliation and targeting specific skin concerns. Then, a laser that emits short, high pulses of light will be moved over the area, removing debris, unclogging pores, and exfoliating your skin. After the laser treatment is complete, the remaining carbon particles will be gently removed. This may also be followed by your doctor providing instructions for post-treatment care that might be tailored specifically to your individual needs.


Carbon laser peel can improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of scars by removing debris from your pores, killing bacteria, and controlling sebum production. This leaves you with softer and clearer skin, alleviating mild acne scars and improving the condition of enlarged pores and hyperpigmentation.

Chemical Peel:

Chemical peels involve the application of chemical solutions to the skin to remove dirt, debris, and dead skin cells, revealing new and healthier skin, which can improve the appearance of superficial acne scars.


A chemical solution is applied to the skin, and as it peels away, it reveals smoother skin beneath.


Chemical peels can help reduce the visibility of superficial acne scars and promote skin renewal through the stimulation of collagen production, promoting cell renewal, and unclogging pores.



Retinoids are a class of topical medications derived from vitamin A, used to address various skin concerns, including acne scars. They are available in different formulations, including prescription-strength products and over-the-counter options.


The use of retinoids typically involves applying a thin layer of the product to clean, dry skin as part of a skincare routine. It’s essential to follow the instructions provided by a healthcare provider or on the product label.


Retinoids work by promoting skin cell turnover and collagen production, leading to smoother skin and reduced scar visibility.

Laser Resurfacing:

Laser resurfacing targets acne scars by improving their appearance and stimulating collagen production.


During the procedure, a laser device emits focused beams of light onto the targeted areas. The laser’s energy is absorbed by the scar tissue, causing it to break down and be removed. This precise targeting allows for the removal of acne scars without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.


Laser resurfacing can significantly improve the appearance of acne scars by promoting skin remodelling and collagen formation. This can lead to smoother skin and an improvement in skin rejuvenation.


Microneedling harnesses the body’s natural healing processes to improve the appearance of various skin concerns, including acne scars.


During the session, a microneedling device is gently passed over the skin, focusing on the targeted area, and creating microchannels that trigger the skin’s natural healing response.


Microneedling can improve the appearance of acne scars by encouraging the production of collagen, which helps to improve the skin’s texture and enhance your complexion.


Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure that uses a machine to mechanically exfoliate the skin’s outermost layer.


During the procedure, a handheld device equipped with a specialized abrasive tip is used to gently and systematically exfoliate the skin’s outermost layer, comprising dead skin cells that can accumulate over time, making the skin appear rough, uneven, and lacklustre.


This treatment can lead to a smoother and more even skin surface, making scars less noticeable. It also promotes the production of new skin cells and collagen, filling in acne scars and contributing to their alleviation.

How are the types of acne scars identified

How are the types of acne scars identified?

Your doctor will begin by performing a visual examination of the affected area. Depending on its characteristics, the scars will be categorized into two broad types before being placed into one of the many subtypes. Here’s a detailed explanation of how the identification process is carried out:

Visual Examination

The first step in identifying acne scars is through a visual examination. This initial step allows the doctor to assess the overall appearance and characteristics of the scars, including their size, depth, texture, and shape.

Classification and Subtyping

The acne scar will then be classified into two main categories: atrophic and hypertrophic. Once the broad classification is made, further subtyping may be necessary to precisely identify the type of acne scar.

Placed on the grade of severity

Finally, the acne scars will be graded on a scale divided into four grades. Listed below are these grades explained in detail.

  • Grade One – Macular:

Macular scars are characterized by being red but flat. They are often the earliest stage of healing after acne lesions and are more common in individuals with darker skin tones. Macular scars may fade over time but can be treated with topical treatments and interventions to address hyperpigmentation.

  • Grade Two – Mild:

Mild acne scars are those that can be easily concealed with makeup or may not be readily noticeable if covered by facial hair. These scars often have minor textural irregularities, such as shallow depressions or unevenness in the skin’s surface.

  • Grade Three – Moderate:

Moderate acne scars are more evident and may be noticeable at a social distance. They are not easily covered by makeup or facial hair, requiring more effort to conceal. These scars often have a more pronounced textural irregularity and may appear as deeper depressions or raised areas.

  • Grade Four – Severe:

Severe acne scars are highly visible even at a social distance. They are unlikely to be fully concealed by makeup or facial hair. These scars can be extensive, with significant textural changes, deep depressions, or raised hypertrophic areas.

How to reduce the risk of acne scars Curamed Aesthetics clinic

How can you reduce the risk of acne scars?

Consult a doctor:

A doctor can help determine your skin type and recommend suitable skincare treatments and products, avoiding ingredients that may trigger allergies or worsen existing skin conditions.

Protect yourself from the sun:

Sun protection is essential not only to prevent hyperpigmentation but also to reduce the risk of acne scars. Excessive sun exposure can darken acne spots and scars, making them more noticeable.

Keep your skin hydrated:

Well-hydrated skin is less prone to irritation and can heal more efficiently, soothing and calming inflamed skin to prevent tissue damage and subsequent scarring.

Don’t delay treatment:

Promptly addressing an acne breakout is essential, as the condition can worsen over time, leading to more severe and persistent breakouts. Timely treatment may also reduce the potential for lasting scars.

Can you remove acne scars using DIY treatments?

Acne scars can be distressing, but it’s important to approach their treatment with a realistic understanding of what can and cannot be achieved with DIY (Do It Yourself) treatments. While DIY remedies may be convenient, they often lack the effectiveness to treat acne scars. There are also other concerns associated with DIY treatments:

Risk of allergic reactions:

DIY treatments often involve the use of various ingredients, some of which may trigger allergies in certain individuals. Without professional guidance and patch testing, there’s a risk of experiencing allergic reactions, ranging from mild itching and redness to more severe skin inflammation.

Incomplete or inaccurate knowledge:

DIY treatments are often based on incomplete or anecdotal knowledge, which may not consider the complexities of acne scars and various skin types. Moreover, these remedies often lack scientific validation and may not address underlying causes. Consulting a doctor for professional treatment and guidance is the safest option.

Lack of professional guidance:

Without professional assessment, it can be challenging to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment approach for your specific acne scars and skin type. This can potentially lead to a worsening of the condition if the DIY solution backfires and can be time-consuming, which could be better spent on seeking professional treatments.

What are the myths of acne scars | Curamed Aesthetics

What are the myths of acne scars?

Misconceptions about acne scars can serve as significant barriers to seeking proper treatment. Understanding the reality of acne scars is crucial for informed decisions and receiving the most suitable care. Here are some widespread myths about acne scars:

Acne scars are permanent:

While some acne scars can be long-lasting, they are not necessarily permanent. With appropriate treatment and care, many acne scars can significantly improve or fade, and some may even disappear entirely.

Acne scars only happen on the face:

Acne scars can appear on various parts of the body where acne breakouts have occurred, not exclusively on the face. The chest, back, shoulders, and neck are common areas where acne scars may develop.

Only severe acne leaves scars:

Although severe acne is more likely to result in scarring, even mild to moderate acne can lead to scarring if the pimples are picked, squeezed, or manipulated. The extent and severity of scarring can vary among individuals.

Sun exposure can help with acne scars:

Sun exposure is not a helpful treatment for acne scars. In reality, it can worsen the appearance of scars by causing hyperpigmentation. Shielding scars from the sun through the use of sunscreen is vital for effective scar management.

Using more products will help with acne scars:

Using excessive skincare products or overloading the skin with treatments is not the solution to acne scars. A thoughtfully selected and balanced skincare routine, as advised by a doctor, is more effective than an abundance of products.

When should I see a doctor about my acne scars?

You should consider seeing a doctor about your acne scars based on the following factors:

Severity of acne scars:

If you have mild or barely noticeable acne scars that do not significantly bother you, you may not need to see a doctor immediately. However, if your scars are moderate to severe, deep, or extensive, it’s advisable to consult a doctor for an assessment and potential treatment options.

Type of Scar:

The type of acne scars you have can influence when to seek medical attention. Some scars, such as keloids or hypertrophic scars, may require specialized treatments that only a doctor can provide.

A desire to improve your condition:

Seeking professional treatment and advice for your condition is a personal choice. If you want smoother, clearer skin and wish to explore medical treatments, consulting a doctor is a proactive step.

Emotional Impact:

Acne scars extend beyond physical blemishes and can take a toll on one’s emotional well-being. The emotional impact of acne scars should not be underestimated, as it can manifest in various ways such as lowered self-esteem and diminished confidence. This is a valid reason to seek medical help for your acne scars.

Do you need help with acne scars

Do you need help with acne scars?

At Curamed Aesthetics, we understand that acne scars can have both physical and emotional impacts. We are always ready to provide you with the advice and support needed to decide on the best course of treatment.

Therefore, if you or a loved one needs help with treating acne scars, don’t hesitate to contact us, and we will be in touch soon.