The Best Laser Treatment For Acne Scars: The Types And How They Work

Featured Image - Laser Treatment For Acne Scars

Laser treatment for acne scars is perhaps one of the most searched terms on the internet today. This holds true for the fact that acne is common among people of all ages, especially women and teenagers.

Most acne, especially when picked, can leave scars behind, damaging the skin and bringing down confidence. In this write-up, find out what laser treatment for acne scars is, how it is done, possible side effects, and its success rate, and you might just find out which type of laser treatment for acne scars is perfect for you.

How Do Acne Scars Occur?clear skin with glass laser treatment for acne scars

When sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria accumulate in the pores, acne results, leaving behind lesions and inflammation. Your body then works to fix the damage by forming higher amounts of collagen, a mechanism that changes the texture of your skin.

It is a process that results in raised areas or indentations on the surface of the skin, leading to scars. It means that the healing process of acne can lead to the formation of scars. These scars are classified into 3 categories depending on the amount of collagen formed or lost.

  1. Hypertrophic Scars: Upon the formation of an excessive amount of collagen, these scars form, leaving bumps on your skin. Hypertrophic tissues are thick and raised and usually form during the healing process. These are common among people with dark skin.
  2. Keloidal Scars: These look like papules, often spreading beyond the affected area. They also form when too much collagen is formed.
  3. Atrophic Scars: As the acne heals, some tissue may be lost. When this happens, atrophic acne occurs, causing the skin to appear depressed or sunken. Atrophic scars are characterized by a loss of collagen, fat, and other essential skin components during the healing process. There are three main types of atrophic acne scars: ice pick, boxcar, and rolling scars.

How Does Laser Treatment Work?

Acne scars are different, and each has its own unique internal structure, making them difficult to treat. Your dermatologist will need to assess each patient individually, meaning that customized treatment will be required for each patient. Lasers are monochromatic beams of light limited to a narrow band of wavelength. They are used to stimulate the dermal fibroblasts to facilitate healing. It is a treatment method that can also be used to treat pain, enhance vision, prevent hair loss, and remove tumors and growths. The following can be treated using laser therapy:

  • burn marks
  • injury scars
  • dark spots
  • acne scars

It is a procedure that involves light therapy [1], meaning that if you have light sensitivity, your doctor may discourage it. People who take blood-thinning medications may also not be candidates due to the risk of bleeding. If you have the following, you may also be discouraged from this form of treatment:

  • sores
  • darker skin
  • active acne

Alternatively, people with the above symptoms may also consider checking out the benefits of at-home microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, or chemical peels by visiting a dermatologist for further assessment.

Types of Laser Therapy Treatments

woman with clear skin and white headband

There are two main categories of scar removal: ablative and non-ablative.

  • Ablative: This therapy removes the damaged tissue through vaporization. Carbon dioxide (Co2) and Erbium YAG are the two most commonly used ablative lasers. They tighten the collagen fibers and erode the surface of the scar.
  • Non-ablative: Unlike ablative lasers, these have a shorter recovery time. Here, no tissue is extracted from your skin. The development of collagen is, however, boosted, leaving tighter skin. Nd:YAG and diodes are the most common laser types.

Other types of laser treatments for acne scars include the following:

  1. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): This is a common form of light therapy used in dermatological applications for the treatment of acne. It uses specific wavelengths of light to target acne bacteria in the skin and sebaceous glands that contribute to breakouts. IPL has controlled pulsing, which prevents thermal damage.
  1. Fractional Laser Treatment: This technology treats a fraction of the skin, leaving the surrounding area intact. It enhances a faster healing turnaround time and speeds up the regeneration of collagen. This form treats acne scars and the brown marks left after a breakout. Because it does not treat melanin, it is a safe method for people with dark skin, including African Americans, Asians, and Indians.
  1. Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) and Microneedling: This is a traditional laser treatment used to treat wrinkles, age spots, scarring, and acne scars. PRP injection enhances faster outcomes. A combination of the two tightens the skin and quickens the healing process.
  1. ProFractional Laser Treatment: This is a method used to resurface the skin by minimizing wrinkles and improving the overall skin tone and texture. It is used during the laser resurfacing procedure. Although there are multiple laser resurfacing procedures, ProFractional is the most commonly used because it focuses on specific areas of your body for precise results.
  2. V-Beam Laser: This is a pulsed dye laser that treats and removes acne scars. It is a procedure that uses dye to produce certain colors, which are then delivered in pulses. After the start of the treatment, the light energy beamed out is converted into heat in the skin.

    The energy then moves through the epidermis to clear the scars. If the heat applied is too high, however, you might get some bruises, but that one treatment will be enough. A lower heat does not present any bruises, but it means you might require several treatments for the scars to clear.

  1. Smoothbeam Laser Treatment: This is a revolutionary skincare tool known to improve sebaceous hyperplasia, among other skin conditions. It treats active acne by targeting its causes. This procedure also treats fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.

    Smoothbeam stimulates the production of natural collagen in the skin. It stimulates the production of collagen in the underlying layers of the skin. Because the tool has a built-in cooling system, the surface of the skin is not exposed to heat.

How Much Does a Laser Treatment Cost?

Given that laser treatment for acne scars is a cosmetic procedure, your insurance may not cover it. The cost will depend on certain factors, including:

  • The existing number of scars
  • The size of the scar
  • The number of treatments needed

A typical treatment may include between 3 and 5 different lasers per session, depending on the severity of the skin condition. Each time you are treated, a certain amount will be paid. You may experience peeling and crusting on the skin for a few days after the treatment.

Laser treatment can help improve the appearance of your scars. However, it is crucial that you only get this service from a board-certified dermatologist for successful results.

(Do you know how many microdermabrasion treatments for acne scars are needed to reduce the appearance of it? If for any reason you’re not supportive of the above treatment, microdermabrasion can be a very good alternative as it is known to be a milder treatment.)

woman with black facial mask laser treatment for acne scars

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the process of laser treatment painful?

Laser therapy may induce some discomfort, yet its tolerability is generally commendable, thanks to the application of numbing agents.

How many sessions are required to achieve the best results?

The number of sessions needed depends on the severity of the scars and the specific laser treatment used. Typically, multiple sessions are required to attain the most favorable results.

Can laser treatment be combined with other therapies or therapeutic modalities?

Absolutely. Dermatologists have the option to synergistically integrate laser therapy with other treatments, such as chemical peels, to augment the overall results.

Is laser treatment universally appropriate for all skin types?

Technological advancements in laser therapy have facilitated the treatment of a diverse range of skin types. However, consulting a seasoned professional is important to make sure of its compatibility with your skin type.

Are the results permanent or temporary?

While laser treatment significantly improves scar appearance, it doesn’t possess the power to prevent fresh acne outbreaks. Adhering to an effective skincare regimen is crucial for long-lasting results.


Laser treatment for acne scars has emerged as an effective and safe option for those seeking to improve acne scarring. With the ability to stimulate collagen production and remodel scarred tissue, lasers offer promising results with minimal recovery periods. Moreover, advancements in laser technology continue to enhance treatment precision, making it even more appealing for those with various skin types and scar severities.

However, it is essential to consult with a qualified professional and follow aftercare instructions diligently to achieve the best possible outcome. If acne scars are affecting your confidence, consider exploring the potential benefits of laser treatment, as it can significantly improve both the appearance and texture of the skin, ultimately restoring self-assurance and quality of life.

Also, check out the other comparison review I did below for more options on facial care procedures: