Once your acne is under control and your skin is no longer inflamed, you can address the acne scars which remain. The effectiveness of treatments tends to be better on people who are younger, healthier, and have fresh scars. However, if you have decades old scarring, you can still diminish scarring. My scars were 30 years old and I still got excellent results. It will just take longer and require patience. My suggestion is that you approach scar remodeling on a risk/benefit basis. That is, try the least risky options first before embarking on more invasive and, potentially, damaging procedures. Many people immediately go for the big guns, paying thousands of dollars on the latest laser treatments in hopes of instant scar repair. “Instant” scar repair usually does not happen without some risk attached to it. If there was a miracle treatment, we would have heard of it by now. Though I have heard of some success stories with lasers, dermabrasion, and peels, I have also heard the flip side, of people who have become disfigured or damaged their skin permanently from botched laser procedures, dermabrasions, and deep chemical peels. The damage may not show until months later, but it is devastating when it happens. Remember, your results are totally dependent on the skill and knowledge of the doctor, nurse, or assistant doing the procedure. If you sustain damage to the dermis or subcutaneous layer, you will have few options to repair it without risking further damage. So, my recommendation is to eliminate or reduce the risk of damage by trying the less invasive treatments first, treatments which have little or no risk.
Scar Remodeling – What I Found to Work
I have been searching for acne repair solutions for the last 3 decades, so I’ve done many things and used many skincare lines. Some have helped and some made things worse. Most did nothing. I believe I got some improvement from TCA peels in the doctor’s office, acids with Copper Peptides, and a line called Epicuren. The problem was, with long-term use, they eventually led to my skin becoming sensitive, thinned, blotchy, and the results eventually stopped.
Of the many treatments I have tried over the years, I find the following to be the most effective, safe, inexpensive, and without down-time. Results are cumulative. It can always get better, not worse. Try these first before signing up for deep chemical peels, dermabrasion, or laser treatments:
1. My Holy Grail of scar repair has to be this: 302 products with Avogen in conjunction with ultrasound and needling techniques. The Avogen is a safe and effective ingredient that softens the skin and increases cell renewal. I can honestly say that this has been the only thing which I could use long-term and see dramatically visible results. I had 80% improvement in the first year, and now I would estimate it is 95% improvement after 5 years. Avogen is very good at breaking up the gristly, cross-linked protein which presents as hardened scar tissue in the dermis. It softens skin. It also increases glucose utilization, which improves cell energy, and promotes the collagen and protein synthesis necessary to fill in the scar. Ultrasound and needling are not required with Avogen, but I find it accelerates the process by breaking up the scar faster and pushing the Avogen deeper into the dermis. The actual entire process is explained below in more detail.
2. Heating your skin to 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 seconds will denature the scar and help promote collagen formation. You can use a number of gadgets to accomplish this. In fact, that is how lasers seem to promote collagen, by the heat it generates, not the light. See the study below. You can safely use a 2 MHz ultrasound probe to generate the heat, a heating pad set on a low setting, or even hair dryer on low. But the ultrasound probe is best because it will not dry out your skin or get too hot.
3. Take supplements which help break up scar tissue. The two I use are serrapeptase and nattokinase. These are fibrinolytic enzymes which dissolve excess fibrin which causes scar tissue, adhesions, and growths on organs, vessels, and arteries. Once broken down by these enzymes, the cell debris is more capable of being excreted as waste. These enzymes also have anti-inflammatory, immune system, and circulatory benefits.
4. Even without 302 Avogen, you can try individual needling, dermarolling, or dermastamping. This involves puncturing the skin with tiny holes, which can break up scar tissue and allow topicals to permeate the dermis better. Vitamin A and C topicals are recommended prior, during, and after these treatments to promote collagen regeneration. Just make sure not to apply Retin-A or L-ascorbic C forms, as these are highly irritating and will sting. Instead, use lipid soluble vitamin A in the form of Retinyl Palmitate and vitamin C in the form of tetrahexydecyl-ascorbate (THDCA). These forms are gentler, yet still provide the same benefits as Retin-A and L-ascorbic C. These are the forms used in the 302 A Boost and Lightening Drops. You can buy microneedling devices from the Internet or Ebay, but you have to be extremely careful. There are many dangerous and shoddy devices out there. I would never go any longer than 2.0 mm in length, because the possibility of going all the way to the subcutaneous fat layer is too risky. You can permanently damage your fat cells by using extremely long needles and cause them to die or atrophy, leaving your face gaunt looking. I buy my supplies from www.owndoc.com. I find them honest and reasonable in cost. You can also try finding a physician who does these procedures in an office setting under sterile conditions, which would be the safest option.
My 302 Protocol for Scar Remodeling
First, a disclaimer. This is my personal protocol. The 302 company does not endorse self-needling, dermarolling, or dermastamping. Obviously, there is a risk of infection if the tools are not sterile or you do not do it correctly. Before embarking on this, read about dermarolling, needling, and stamping in the www.owndoc.com website. There are several very informative articles in their forum.
The one important prerequisite is that you have used the 302 skincare protocol suggested by your esthetician and have come to a point where your skin is calmed, healthy, and functioning well. If you are not at this point, don’t attempt this yet. You want your skin to be in optimal health before doing this. Select your tools correctly. If you have numerous scars on the face, you will want to use a 1.5 mm dermaroller. If you only have a few isolated scars, a single needle (for ice picks) or a dermastamp (for small scars) is a better option. You will need some anesthetic if using the roller, but is not necessary or desirable for the individual needles or dermastamps. Anesthetic seems to exacerbate redness, and it takes longer to go away in my experience.
So, in a nutshell this is what I did for my acne scars. This should also work for chemical burns and other general scarring:
1. Take a 2- or 3-week holiday from Avogen-containing topicals, also A and C actives. You may continue using all other 302 products as usual if you want. The reason for the break is to reset your skin to baseline again. Nothing bad will happen, and when you resume the actives, the improvements seem to jump to another level.
2. At the end of the holiday, use the appropriate tool to roll, needle, or stamp your scars. Below, from left to right, is a 2 mm single needle, 1.75 mm dermastamp, and 1.5 mm dermaroller.It’s very important to use sterile technique and instruments. You don’t need to excessively roll, needle or stamp. Four passes on the roller in 4 directions, 15 stamps or 15 needle punctures is all you want. You want to see pinprick bleeding, this is an indication you are reaching the dermis, where the scar resides. But don’t make your skin a bloody pulpy mess, or you will cause more scarring. With proper technique, you should have some redness or red spots, but they will be totally gone in a matter of 5-7 days. Use appropriate sunscreen or better yet, stay inside while you are in this stage of healing; otherwise, hyperpigmentation may result.
3. Immediately after the rolling, needling, stamping, apply equal parts of 302 Drops OR 302 Serum (or Hi Potency Drops or Hi Potency Serum if available) + A Boost + Lightening Drops. This is the only time you should combine 302 actives. This is what I call my 302 Triple Threat, and I only use this when needling. Mist with water or Calming Mist afterwards to spread it out.
4. Let your skin rest. Don’t apply any more actives until your redness go away. You can use the 302 cleansers, mists in the interim.
5. After your skin is back to normal, resume your 302 actives as usual.
Do this 3x/week, 10 minutes for your face. This is going to promote even more collagen regeneration and help tighten the skin. Keep your skin slightly wet when using the probe, keep moving it in little circles, concentrating on scars. I use the Calming mist, but misting water is okay too. You should feel a little heat, but it should never be hot.
7. Do not roll, needle, or stamp again for at least another 4 weeks. Six weeks, even better. The skin is actively producing collagen during this period of time and you don’t want to disrupt the process. Also, you don’t want chronic inflammation, so limit your treatments.
7. Give yourself at least 6 months before assessing progress. Scar remodeling is one of the longest processes you will encounter, especially the older you are. Be patient. Don’t expect overnight results. Take before and after shots. Your friends and spouse will probably notice before you do, which is exactly what happened to me.
So, stop constantly monitoring your skin on a daily or hourly basis, and keep a positive attitude! Scar repair can be done safely and cheaply if you educate yourself, use the right tools, and have patience.