There are many different types of lasers used in the treatment of acne scars. Although the brands may differ somewhat, the function they perform is usually similar. Because there are many different types of acne scars there is not one single laser to help with all of them. Three types of lasers used to improve or eliminate acne scars are the Erbium laser (textured acne scars), pulse dye laser (red acne scars) and q-switched laser (pigmented acne scars).
Erbium laser resurfacing is a commonly used treatment for textured acne scar treatments. The Erbium laser is designed to resurface the skin by removing the outermost layers. The idea behind Erbium resurfacing is to remove enough of the surface layer so as to get down below the scar. When the tissue regenerates, it comes back smoother and more pliable without the memory of the acne scar. Although it is difficult to get rid of textured acne scars altogether, they can be greatly improved. With several Erbium laser acne scar removal resurfacing treatments, textured acne scars can be improved between 25% and 75%. Improvement depends on depth of scars, age of scars, and the number of laser acne scar treatments.
Pigmented acne scars are treated with lasers based on the type of pigmentation. In lighter skinned individuals, pigmented acne scars are usually red. They are created by a healing response that brings blood to the site of the acne lesion (the injury). In darker skinned individuals, this same healing response leads to darker acne marks by bringing melanin (the body's natural pigment) to the site of the injury. Using heat and light energy from the pulse dye and q-switched lasers, we are able to eliminate the redness or melanin associated with the different pigmented acne scars. The pulse dye laser is attracted to hemoglobin in the blood. When used to treat red acne scars, it shrinks the blood vessels created during the healing response, thereby lessening the red appearance. In the case of dark skinned individuals, the q-switched laser heats up the melanin that was brought to the site during the healing process. The heat energy of the laser breaks down this excess pigment and allows it to be carried away from the site of the acne lesion, which then reduces the appearance of the mark.