Acne scars can be a difficult skin condition to treat, since both pitting and raised scar tissue can occur, and both may be accompanied by red discoloration and an uneven complexion. Leveling out the skin’s surface means overcoming the effects of a previous body healing response, the process that created the acne scarring in the first place.
The excess redness of skin is another issue that requires action, introducing a controlled version of that same healing response. Intense pulsed light, or IPL™ technology, uses energy delivered through light waves to create this controlled response. Let’s look at what causes acne scarring and how IPL therapy can reduce or eliminate its effects.
How acne scars form
Widespread acne outbreaks cause trauma to the skin of your face, and in severe cases, subsequent outbreaks may begin before the previous injuries have healed. When you experience acne, your body starts an inflammatory response that creates new collagen as a repair resource.
Normally, collagen is a welcome substance. It’s a matrix of tissue in the middle skin layer that holds moisture and gives volume and smoothness to your surface skin. Typically, that matrix is a smooth and flexible base, but when injury occurs, collagen is manufactured to repair the site of the trauma.
In the case of acne, this is at the clogged and infected skin pore. Raised acne scars occur when collagen is overproduced for the area, while pitting represents collagen under-production.
Controlled inflammatory response
To counteract the reminders of this damage-and-healing process, most approaches seek to introduce a controlled version of the body’s damage repair response, but over a wide area, not limited to local scar tissue. Initiating this response causes the body to remove old collagen tissue and manufacture a new layer. Without the local damage, new tissue is often smoother and more even.
This typically raises the level of acne pits and lowers the height of acne bumps. In addition, skin tone generally is evened out, with the intensity of persistent redness easing, regardless of the method used to stimulate the controlled inflammatory response.
Traditional treatment methods
There are a number of approaches that jumpstart the body’s healing response. Dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and microplaning each use physical exfoliation to stimulate new tissue growth. Chemical peels, available in mild, medium, and aggressive formulations use acids to achieve similar results. Depending on the level of exfoliation created, any of these methods may create recovery periods, during which your daily activities may be curtailed.
There are new technologies that can non-invasively stimulate new collagen production. These methods may use cosmetic lasers or radiofrequency devices to trigger the controlled inflammatory response. Often mistakenly classed as a laser, IPL has some characteristics that make it a strong candidate for successful acne scarring treatment.
The IPL difference
Unlike lasers, which concentrate their energy into a single wavelength of light, IPL uses many wavelengths delivered in a high-energy, short-duration pulsed beam. Otherwise, the mechanism of IPL and lasers is similar. The components of skin tissue absorb different colors of light, which converts to heat and warms the target tissue.
Cosmetic lasers require re-tuning to handle multiple acne scar issues. The ideal wavelength to regenerate collagen is different than the perfect color of light to reduce skin redness. IPL, on the other hand, delivers these light energies simultaneously, while the short pulses of energy limit the effects on non-targeted tissue.
Warmed sufficiently, new collagen and skin tissue begin to grow while existing tissue is gently removed through the circulatory system.
All methods of creating the controlled inflammatory response may require several treatments to correct moderate or severe cases of acne scarring. The results you achieve depend upon the severity of your case. Contact the aesthetic professionals at Park Slope Laser to learn more about how IPL treatments can improve your skin’s appearance and uniformity.