Laser Acne Scar Removal

Laser Scar Removal


How does Acne Scar Removal work?

We provide skin resurfacing via the Palomar Icon 1540 Non-Ablative Fractional Laser. Let’s study what each one really means. Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 5.39.18 PM

1540: This is the value of the wavelength of light emitted from the laser (1540 nanometers

Non-Ablative: Non-ablative is a clinical term describing the method in which the skin is treated. Inour resurfacing procedures, the skin is non ablated, which means it is not removed. The skin is only heated up to a high temperature, but is not “burned off” or “ablated”, as is in the case of ablative (Co2) procedures. Non-Ablative treatments result in less pain and down-time compared to Ablative resurfacing lasers

Fractional: Fractional technology is a relatively new method/technology for lasers, in regards to skin resurfacing. As the name implies, the beam of light emitted from the laser is outputted in a fractionated pattern, versus a solid, single column. Therefore, hundreds of tiny “micro-beams” are pulsed onto the treatment area, which create “micro-columns” of heated areas on the scarred lesion. In turn, what this does, is create hundreds of micro-controlled scar lesions on the skin.

You may now ask yourself, “Wait! why would you create more scars on top of my current scar?!?” Good Question! The answer is that we are controlling the positioning and depth of these micro columns, and once your skin/body realizes it has been newly “scarred” (so to speak), it begins to send new tissue and collagen to “heal” (so to speak) the newly-scarred area. This results in a “filling” of the old scar depression, and leads to a resurfaced, smooth skin texture.

Since this procedure relies on your own body/skin resurfacing its own scars with its own collagen and tissue, your best results are generally seen 6 months after your last session. This is analogous to a cut or scrape you may get on your skin: it takes a long period of time for the cut to scab up, heal, and the scar to finally fade. That is like the healing process at work post fractional treatments.

Also, please keep in mind that a general rule of thumb for these procedures is “the newer/younger the scar, the easier it is to resurface.” This is not to say that older acne scars can’t be treated; only that older lesions may take more sessions to achieve desired results.

Which type of acne scars can be treated with fractional laser resurfacing? Illustration and description of types of acne scars

There are varying types of acne scars a patient may present. Below is a graphic which illustrates and explains the most common types of acne scars seen on patients. Depending on the types of scars you present with, and the overall texture/tone of your skin, your nurse will select appropriate laser settings, and use a combination of laser tips/settings to optimize your laser resurfacing results.


How many treatments do I need? Am I a good candidate?

Number of treatments for Fractional Resurfacing really depends on how severe the scars are. At Glendale Laser Group, we require a free consultation prior to every fractional laser resurfacing treatment, in order for the clinician to accurately assess the patient’s skin and conditions present.

For acne scar removal, patients typically require 3-4 sessions of resurfacing, and each treatment is done every 4 weeks. It is VERY important to follow-up the sessions on-time because, depending on how the patient reacted to their first treatment, subsequent treatments are conducted with more aggressive, yet safe, settings. Therefore, results are cumulative.

Does treatment hurt?

Numbing cream is always applied 1 hour prior to laser resurfacing treatments, which results in a more comfortable and tolerable procedure. During the treatment, you may feel a slight heat or snapping sensation, especially during the laser pulses, but this is normal and well-tolerated.

After the treatment, a cooling gel (called Humatrix) is applied to the skin to further cool the skin and help with the “heat” sensation. For a few hours after your treatment, you may (or may not) feel heat or warmth on your skin where the laser was done. This will subside after a few hours, and after this point, there should not be any painful sensations.

What is the down-time?

This procedure has about 2-3 days of down-time:

For face treatments: your skin will be pink/light red, possibly puffy and/or swollen for 2-3 days post treatment, similar to the look of a bad sunburn. During this time, you are allowed to continue normal activity, but you will have to closely follow your post treatment instructions. For up to a week after your treatment your skin may be dry or itchy (or not at all). This is normal, and can be alleviated with the use of the post treatment ointments provided to you.

Pre-treatment “Do’s and Don’ts”

DON’T use Accutane for at least 3 months prior to your session, or Retin-A for at least 30 days prior to your session. Notify your RN of any medication(s) you may be currently taking, as many medications can cause photosensitivity. Always consult with your prescribing physician before discontinuing medication(s).

DON’T use a tanning bed, lay out in the sun, or spray tan AT LEAST 3 weeks prior to your treatment.

DON’T exfoliate your skin, use acid-based products, use products with Retinols, get a chemical peel or other laser treatment at least 14 days prior to your laser resurfacing session.

DO update us regarding any new medications you are taking or any new health conditions we should be aware of, which were not previously disclosed on your patient health history form.

What to expect during your initial treatment:

Numbing Cream: You are asked to arrive about 1 hour before your laser resurfacing treatment in order to have numbing cream applied to the area. It takes 45-60 mins for the numbing cream to take effect; therefore, arriving on-time is very important.

Treatment Room: Your laser treatment will promptly begin at you scheduled appointment time. Once you enter the treatment room, our professional nurse will ask you a couple questions about the treatment you will be receiving that day. (Please note that the treatment room is kept at a cool temperature for clinical purposes). After the nurses assesses your health history and treatment area, you’re all set to start the procedure.

The Procedure: The RN will perform the laser resurfacing treatment on the bare skin, without any gel or topicals. Depending on how your skin reacts (every patient reacts differently), the nurse may decide to do multiple passes over “trouble” areas, such as deeper acne scars. After your treatment, a skin cooling gel called Humatrix is applied to the skin, which aids in calming the skin and absorbing the residual heat from the skin. Your RN will explain post treatment instructions carefully to you, and will confirm that you understand them correctly.

After your Skin Resurfacing Treatment:


As always, not just after laser treatments, make sure to continually apply SPF 30 or higher to the areas treated. We carry SkinMedica’s SPF 50+ in our office for purchase, and is a highly recommended product for post-laser treatments (especially for the face). It is medically formulated for post procedure use, and provides an effective barrier against UVA/UVB rays.

Post treatment care instructions:

After your treatment, you will be given post treatment care instructions. Make sure to follow these instructions carefully, and please call or email us if you have any questions about your after care. You can view a copy of these patient post-treatment instructions here: Acne Patient Care Instructions

When should I come in for my next session?

Fractional Laser Resurfacing treatments are typically performed in 4-week intervals, unless otherwise recommended by your clinician. It is very important to adhere to the treatment plan recommended by your clinician in order to achieve desired results.