How to actually reduce the appearance of acne scars, according to an expert — ODE Dermatology

How to actually reduce the appearance of acne scars, according to an expert

A definitive guide to improving the look of acne marks

How to actually reduce the appearance of acne scars, according to an expert

As seen on Vogue Australia

By Emily Algar •

Acne is difficult to treat on its own, let alone the fact that so often, it’s accompanied by scarring.

It’s frustrating for those who suffer, but thankfully skincare has come far enough that there are plenty of effective treatment options that work to brighten the skin and refine its texture.

By no means is it simple or straightforward, but with the right ingredients, it’s doable.

To help us get to the bottom of acne scars, we’ve enlisted the help of Dermatologist Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan.

Here to help break down everything you need to know about these blemishes, Dr Gunatheesan shares her wisdom on how to lessen their appearance and what you can do to prevent acne scarring in the first place.

Keep reading to learn how to get rid of acne scars, according to an expert.

What is the best treatment for acne scars?

As is the case with most skin conditions, prevention is better than treatment.

Dr Gunatheesan suggests seeking out a dermatologist who can reduce inflammation from the start, reducing the incidence of scars and PIH in the long run.

But this isn’t always the case, so as far as at-home maintenance goes, look out for the following ingredients:

      • Vitamin B3 (or niacinamide) will reduce inflammation, balance sebum production, restore the skin barrier and help with skin renewal.
      • Retinoids will also do all of the above, plus they play an important role in collagen synthesis. They will also work to speed up skin cell turnover.
      • Vitamin C will also assist with skin recovery, pigmentation, collagen production, and function as a potent antioxidant.

Outside of that, in-clinic treatments including LED light therapy, skin needling, and laser can potentially help.

Speak to a trusted dermatologist or aesthetician to discuss your best options (because no two skin types are the same).

What are the best products to reduce redness?

Persistent redness associated with acne comes down to inflammation.

In addition to the above, be sure to wear a broad-spectrum, non-greasy sunscreen every single day.

Cica is another skin-soothing ingredient that can help to calm and soothe redness.

How can I prevent acne scarring?

A consistent skincare regimen consisting of the aforementioned ingredients is your best bet at reducing any incidence of acne scarring and marks.

Dr Gunatheesan also suggests an AHA like lactic acid, and a BHA like salicylic acid for optimal turnover, clear pores, and normal oil production.

It’s also so important to not pick at, or pop pimples. Yes, it’s wildly tempting, but it almost always worsens things in the long run.

Finally, be careful not to overuse over-the-counter acne products (such as Benzac) as they can compromise the skin barrier.

When in doubt, less is always more.

What are the different types of acne scarring?

Generally speaking, dermatologists refer to acne scars as either depressed acne scars or raised acne scars.

Dr Gunatheesan explains that depressed scars happen “in response to the inflammation and tissue injury, whereby the body produces too little collagen.”

This can manifest as pitting, where the skin takes on a dimpled appearance.

Depressed scars can be further categorised into:

      • Atrophic scars: flat, shallow depressions.
      • Boxcar scars: broad, box-like depressions with sharply defined borders.
      • Ice pick scars: smaller, sharp indentations or pits with a narrow base.
      • Rolling scars: undulating scars of various depths that appear wavy and uneven.

Raised acne scars, on the other hand, “happen when the body produces too much collagen as it tries to heal the acne inflammation and trauma to the skin,” Dr Gunatheesan tells us.

Raised scars can look like:

      • Hypertrophic scars, which are the same size as the acne spot.
      • Keloid scars that are raised and larger than the original acne spot.

While not categorically “scarring”, there’s also post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which involves a spotty or patchy darkening of the skin post-injury (such as acne).

It’s caused by an overproduction of melanin and is thought to be a trauma response to protect the skin from further damage.

PIH can affect all skin types and tones, but melanocytes are thought to be more sensitive in deeper skin tones.

Fair skin tones on the other hand, are often more prone to persistent redness.


Targeted solutions and tailored treatments are offered to fulfil individual concerns of every age. This transcends into a guardianship of long-term, personal wellbeing and an amplification of the skin's innate intelligence.