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Best Acne Scar Treatments for Clearer Skin

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There’s nothing worse than finally getting rid of all your acne, only to end up with a daily reminder that you had it in the first place. Acne scarring may not be as irritating as the pimples that once covered your skin, but it can still do a number on your confidence level. Scarring also tends to hang around until professional care is provided. Today we’re going to walk through our best acne scar treatments. 

First, let’s establish the difference between acne scars, post-inflammatory erythema (PIE), and post-Inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).

Acne Scars versus PIE versus PIH

Acne can result in acne scarring, post-inflammatory erythema (PIE), and post-Inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).

Acne scarring is an alteration to the texture of your skin. Depending on how deep the scarring is, you may even feel a “dip” when running a finger over it. This is a sign of true acne scarring. 

Post-inflammatory erythema (PIE) is the residual red, pinkish, or even purple-looking spots that remain in the places where you once had acne. It results from blood vessel dilation and damage due to the inflammation in the skin. One way to tell if you have PIE is to note the texture of your skin. PIE won’t change your skin’s texture like acne scarring will. It also tends to affect those with lighter skin tones. 

To the untrained eye, it can be confused with PIH…

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs when your skin makes extra melanin because of inflammation. Acne is often a cause of PIH (but it’s certainly not the only cause). PIH won’t alter the texture of your skin, but it does alter the color. It usually occurs when inflammation causes an overproduction and deposition of melanin in the skin. This causes darker brown spots to appear. PIH tends to occur in those with darker skin tones.

Now let’s talk about treatment options!

Treatment Options For Acne Scarring

Vivace RF Microneedling

Radiofrequency microneedling is one of the newest revolutions in minimally-invasive tightening and contouring for the face, neck, and body. It’s also great for scarring. It works by stimulating your body’s production of collagen and elastin to provide results that improve over several months. By stimulating collagen growth, Vivace RF Microneedling encourages your skin to heal itself and reduces the appearance of acne scars by helping to fill in the “dips” in your skin from the inside out. Three common types of acne scars it helps treat are ice pick, boxcar, and rolling acne scars.

Vivace RF Microneedling is FDA-approved and uses ultrafine needles to penetrate the skin and deliver radiofrequency (heat) energy to deeper layers of the skin. It delivers results which are realized over 3-6 months, with minimal downtime. This option requires a series of treatments for optimal results.

Laser CoolPeel

Laser CoolPeel treatments can be a great fit for addressing acne scarring. The CoolPeel provides similar benefits of a traditional CO2 laser resurfacing treatment without the downtime (because it is a fractional laser treatment). It also only targets the superficial layer of skin tissue. The damaged skin is sloughed off and collagen is stimulated, revealing younger and healthier-looking skin. 

Our Dermacare of Hampton Roads experts have seen tremendous results alternating Laser CoolPeel and Vivace treatments for acne scar remodeling.

Bonus: this treatment time is pretty fast, normally completed in about 15 minutes!


Halo is a completely customizable laser treatment designed to precisely target the skin damage left behind from acne. A patient’s skin type, lifestyle, and downtime tolerance are all factors that go into treatment customization. And while Halo can provide stunning results from one initial treatment, your Dermacare of Hampton Roads expert will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your scarring and if a series of Halo laser treatments are needed to obtain the best results.

Treatment Options For Post-inflammatory Erythema (PIE)

BBL FotoFacial (Advanced IPL)

BBL FotoFacial is a facial rejuvenation technology that uses light energy to target red and brown chromophores in your skin. Redness and brown spots are corrected, and skin cells are stimulated to produce collagen, restoring your skin to its natural beauty, blending its natural colors, and making it smoother, vibrant, and younger-looking. 

This gentle, non-invasive procedure has virtually no downtime and no need for a topical anesthetic.

Treatment Options For Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Light Chemical Peels 

Light Chemical Peels are great for addressing PIH because they help remove the top layer of skin and allow it to regenerate. At Dermacare of Hampton Roads, our peels are highly customizable, so we formulate each to address each patient’s individual needs.

A good clinician will work with you to determine what kind of chemical peel would be best to start with for addressing your PIH. At Dermacare of Hampton Roads, we typically use more conservative peels in the beginning and then work our way up to stronger peels if that’s what your skin needs. This is because we want to see how your skin reacts to the treatment.


Sun protection is extremely important to treating PIH. This is because exposure to the sun stimulates the melanocytes in the skin to produce darker pigmentation. So areas already darkened by PIH will become even darker if left unprotected from the sun. We recommend PIH patients wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, ideally containing a physical blocker (like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide), with at least 30 SPF daily. 

Medical-grade Skincare Products

Medical-grade products are great for treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is because medical-grade skincare products work on a cellular level to actually improve the skin cells’ function. Products purchased from a retail store are not prescription-grade quality and often just mask the damaged skin instead of correcting the underlying problem.

There are a lot of products that can help, ranging from vitamin C serums to niacinamide to retinoids. Choosing the right one for your PIH can be tricky, so we always recommend consulting a professional. 

Depending on the severity of your PIH, our Dermacare of Hampton Roads Experts may recommend products from brands such as AlumierMD, DefenAge, SkinMedica, and Image, as well as our own signature skincare line–MY Dermacare of Hampton Roads Skincare.

If you’re not sure if you have acne scars, post-inflammatory erythema (PIE), or post-Inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), don’t hesitate to give us a call! We offer free no-pressure virtual consultations where we can help you identify what is happening with your skin and recommend the best course of treatment to fit your budget and lifestyle.

Reach us at 757-547-7546 or use our contact page today

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