Management of post-acne scarring. What are the options for treatment?

Am J Clin Dermatol. Jan-Feb 2000;1(1):3-17. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200001010-00001.


Post-acne scarring is a very distressing and difficult problem for physician and patient alike. Recently, newer techniques and modifications to older ones may make this hitherto refractory problem more manageable. Options for dealing with post-acne scarring are explored. The patient, his or her overall appearance and the morphology of each scar must be assessed and treatment designed accordingly. To adequately address the patient with scarring, a thorough knowledge of the pathophysiology and anatomy of the different types of scars should be sought. Once an understanding of what the pathology is and where it is occurring is attained, the most pertinent treatment for that scar may be devised. A variety of post-acne scars is produced including superficial macules, dermal troughs, ice picks, multi-channelled fistulous tracts and subcutaneous atrophy. The wide variety of new treatment methods for post-acne scarring includes newer resurfacing tools such as CO2 and erbium infrared lasers, dermasanding and possibly some future techniques such as non-ablative and radiofrequency resurfacing. Dermal and subcutaneous augmentation with autologous and nonautologous tissue augmentation and the advent of tissue undermining have greatly improved treatment of atrophic scars. Use of punch techniques for sharply marginated scars (such as ice picks) is necessary if this scar morphology is to be treated well. One should attempt to match each scar against an available treatment as far as possible. Many of these techniques may be performed in a single treatment session but repeat treatments are often necessary. The treatment of hypertrophic acne scarring remains difficult, but silastic sheeting, vascular laser, and intralesional cytotoxics are interesting developments. Most often occurring extra-facially and in males these distressing scars often require multiple treatments and modalities before adequate improvement is achieved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications*
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Cicatrix / therapy*
  • Humans