While some acne scars fade, some people develop icepick scars, which have a pitted or sunken appearance. If you have icepick scars that bother you, you should reach out to a dermatologist for help. Here are three dermatology treatments that could help you reduce the appearance of these scars.
Chemical reconstruction of skin scars (CROSS), or chemical peels, are treatments that use trichloroacetic acid (TCA) to strip down old skin cells and stimulate new cell growth. Chemical peels encourage inflammatory responses so that new collagen—the main protein found in connective tissues—forms. While the icepick scar may not completely fade, the new cell growth will even out its appearance and reduce the shadows cast in the scar's depression.
One study found that chemical peels were safe, cost-effective, and minimally invasive treatments for managing icepick scars. If you have icepick scars, as well as fine lines or discoloration that you want to correct, a chemical peel can be a good option. Chemical peels can make your skin extremely sensitive, and you'll need to stay out of the sun while you heal, so this treatment isn't a good idea if you are currently treating other acne, like with a Retin-A, or if you burn easily.
If you only have one or two icepick scars or deep scars, a punch excision treatment can be a good option. To perform a punch excision, your dermatologist will use a circular to remove—or "punch out"—the icepick scar. Once the scar is removed, your dermatologist will close the area with stitches. While you may have a small scar from the stitches, the scar will be less noticeable and flatter in its appearance. If you have a very deep icepick scar, then your dermatologist can also use a skin graft — usually taken from behind the ear — to refill the wound after the punch.
Like chemical peels, laser lights can be used to encourage collagen production in the skin. Laser resurfacing works well for mild icepick scars. Laser resurfacing can be beneficial for people whose icepick scars have become more pronounced due to wrinkles or sagging skin. One study found that the concurrent use of punch excisions with laser resurfacing could improve facial scarring and delay the need for future laser resurfacing. After laser resurfacing, you may experience some temporary swelling, itching, blistering, and skin discoloration.
These are just a few treatments that could help you reduce the appearance of icepick scars. Reach out to a dermatologist in your area for more help.