Q: When I was younger, I had pretty severe acne, and now I have the scars to prove it. What can I do to make my acne scars less noticeable?

A: There are several options that can significantly reduce and/or eliminate acne scars, depending on their severity.

One of the best advances in recent years for treating mild to moderate scars has been the Fraxel Laser Treatmenta safe, noninvasive procedure that produces thousands of tiny treatment columns in the skin. This treatment eliminates unwanted epidermal pigmented cells and penetrates deep into the dermis while leaving the surrounding tissue unaffected and intact. As a result, it allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area were treated at once.

For severe acne scars, Sciton laser micropeels can be a good option. Sciton is an erbium laser that uses a computer-guided scanner to resurface the skin with maximum precision and uniformity. This kind of micropeel [also known as a "weekend peel"] offers lasting results with minimal downtime or discomfortusually less than 48 hours.

Another option is plasma resurfacing with Rhytec Portrait PSR, which is best suited to treating severe scars. By delivering millisecond pulses of nitrogen plasma, it causes collagen to regenerate under the skin and reduces the appearance of scars. A full-face treatment takes about 15 minutes, and downtime varies depending on the intensity of the treatment.

Finally, for deep scars, there are fillers such as Sculptra, Artefill, or Radiesse. Sculptra is a biocompatible injection derived from suture material that generally lasts about two years, while Artefill is made of PMMA [polymethylmethacrylate] and is considered long-lasting and, in some cases, permanent. Artefill does require skin testing before use. In both cases, the fillers can be used to fill in hollow or sunken acne-scar depressions.

Dr. Sadick, MD, FAAD, FAACS, FACP, FACPh, is a renowned dermatologist and researcher whose multiple discoveries have strongly influenced the field of dermatology. He currently serves as a clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, president of the Cosmetic Surgery Foundation, and member of the Board of Examiners for the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. Sadick holds four board certificationsin dermatology, cosmetic surgery, internal medicine, and hair transplantationand is the author, or coauthor, of more than 500 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.