Because of the disappointing results associated with chemical peels in treating acne scars, lasers have become more popular during recent years. While some treatments and procedures can be used to complement those used to improve and treat acne itself, the main benefit of using acne laser treatment involves stimulating collagen remodeling to improve the appearance of acne scars.

Collagen is a type of protein that provides rigidity and strength to the dermis layer of skin. The dermis is the layer of skin located directly below the epidermis, which is the outside layer of skin that you can touch and see. Along with collagen, the dermis also contains hair follicles along with the oil and sweat glands.

Acne laser skin treatment is often combined with other surgical treatments such as punch excision, replacement and elevation. For best results and to give the skin time to heal and recover, laser resurfacing should be performed 6 to 12 weeks after the completion of surgical treatment. You should discuss the option of laser therapy for treatment of your acne scars with a doctor since resurfacing with a laser can result in uneven skin tones if you have dark skin. However, with the assistant of a competent doctor, complications are less likely to occur.

There are two types of lasers used for acne laser skin resurfacing: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative lasers are less common today and literally remove the outer layers of skin by burning away the scar tissue and stimulating collagen to tighten which reduces the amount of scar visibility. Ablative lasers are typically only used for deep scars. Unprotected tissue is exposed and great effort must be put into preventing infection and wound care. Unfortunately, the skin may remain red and inflamed for many months and even a year after treatment.

Non-ablative lasers can be very effective at treating shallow scars as well as smoothing and tightening deeper scars that have been previously treated with an ablative laser. Non-ablative lasers are not very effective at treating deep, craterlike scars. The theory behind non-ablative lasers is that the thermal injury caused by the laser triggers a wound repair response that jumpstarts new collagen formation but isn't strong enough to damage the epidermis. In other words, non-ablative lasers produce a controlled injury to targeted structures within the dermis, while keeping the epidermis intact.

Some of the more common types of non-ablative lasers used for acne scar treatment include InfraRed lasers, the N-Lite laser, and sprinkling laser beams such as the Fraxel laser. The Fraxel laser is the newest type of non-ablative laser available. The Fraxel causes less injury to the skin and less downtime when compared to the older types of non-ablative lasers.