Common questions and answers about acne scar treatments including:
Our clinic, myths and facts, our fees.
Myths & Facts
IPL or intense pulse light can have a minimal impact on very early red acne scarring. IPL is not a laser, but special wavelength filters can treat red scars. We prefer to use the V Beam laser to target red scars, as this treatment is less painful and works much better than IPL. A course of V-Beam treatment is also more cost effective than IPL.
IPL can remodel collagen, however this process will require 4-5 treatments and is largely outdated, replaced by fractional RadioFrequency and Fractional lasers. Remember that scars lie deep in the dermal layers of skin, and IPL works best on the upper layers of skin.
More on RadioFrequency for Acne Scars
This form of treatment is old technology invented in 1996, however resurfaced in 2012 due to Kerri Ann Kennerley’s presence in the media. The truth is that Omnilux can marginally help reduce early scarring. Light therapy, also know as phototherapy can stimulate dermal collagen, however this form of treatment poor in comparison to Radiofrequency.
Omnilux Blue and Red Phototherapy can be used to treat some form of acne, and is ideal in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or patients who are not keen to take medically prescribed creams or tablets. In most cases we combine Omnilux and phototherapy with chemical peels, as part of our Clear Skin Program for acne scars.
More on acne treatment with Omnilux
Yes and no… Prescription creams such as Vitamin A, can have a mild effect on early scarring. Vitamin A or Tretinoin can remodel collagen, however the most beneficial effect of this cream is acne prevention. Bio-Oil can have an unknown affect on some scars, and in some cases high dose Vitamin E capsules can be effective. In order for creams to work, they must first penetrate into the deeper dermal layers of the skin.
More on acne treatment with creams
Microdermabrasion has minimal impact on acne scars! Why? It’s because acne scars lie in the deeper layers of the skin called the dermal layers. Microdermabrasion can temporarily smoothen the upper most layers of the skin called the stratum corneum, and may create an illusion of scar improvement. Results if any, are temporary. Specialists recommend Glycolic AHA peels ahead of Microdermabrasion as peels are more cost effective, quicker to perform but most importantly, more effective than Microdermabrasion.
Skin needling can have a mild impact on acne scars. In fact skin needling was considered to be the grandfather of fractional lasers and work in a very similar manner. Needling the deeper layers of skin can remodel collagen. Home needling kits do not work, as the needles do not penetrate deep enough.
Some beauty salons use the word ‘fractional resurfacing’ interchangeably with ‘skin needling’ however there are many differences in true laser resurfacing and needling. Using medical grade skin needles and rollers, a depth of only a millimetre or two is reached. Dermarollers and needling kits in cosmetic and laser salons and clinics are even more superficial. Skin needling at the very best, breaks down some scars, but the lack of controlled heat does not stimulate collagen as much as true fractional devices such as Fraxel, Fractional lasers and RadioFrequency devices.
Newer skin needling procedures such as DERMAPEN provide better results compared to first gen skin rollers. Dermapen can be used on rolling, atrophic and mixed acne scars.
Another method of fractional scar revision is called Fractional RadioFrequency, or RF. This method of acne scar revision is at the opposite end of skin needling. Unlike needling, Fractional RF tends to spare the upper layers of the skin, and concentrates on the deeper dermal layers of skin- where scars and collagen lie. Radiofrequency, like skin needling, breaks down the collagen, but also provides heating of the dermal layers, which also remodels acne scars. Unlike skin needling, RadioFrequency has a lower downtime, lower complication rate, and is much more comfortable for the patient.
Skin needling with rollers is largely historical in value, as Fractional lasers, Dermapen needling and RadioFrequency devices are more precise, and stimulate collagen production at a much greater rate than skin needling. The Brisbane Acne Specialist Clinic still performs skin needling, however utilize the Dermapen for this procedure. We still have skin needling roller kits dating back to the 2002, but this is only of historical importance.
RadioFrequency or RF treatment, apart from being more effective than skin needling, cost less. That’s the evolution of technology…
More on skin needling for acne scars
Fraxel TM is a brand of Fractional Laser, and is an excellent laser machine. Since the invention of the first FRAXEL machine, there has been significant progress in the field of fractional lasers. The best treatment for acne scarring depends on your scars, your skin type and your downtime, and NOT what machine is used. The Acne Specialist Clinic at Westside Dermatology has 6 types of Fractional lasers, including 2 Fraxel lasers and our Specialists will guide you as to what is the best way to treat your acne scars.
Other Popular Questions
We encourage patients to undertake acne scar treatments as soon as there is evidence of scar formation. This is because early scars are much easier to treat compared to older scars. Scar remodelling can occur at any age, however the earlier you address scars, the better the result.
There are several effective hints that you can do to help to prevent acne scarring.
- First of all, if you have active acne, seek medical advice. A good starting point is your General Practitioner and not a laser clinic or beautician. Do not undergo Omnilux light treatments or acne light treatments unless you are medically supervised. In the majority of times, your GP can start you on simple, but effective acne treatments.
- Secondly, develop a simple, non-abrasive skin care regime. This involves simple cleansers, and moisturisers and a light moisturiser. Remember to use sunscreen on a daily basis, especially if you live in Queensland. UV light can darken acne scars, inducing post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Never squeeze pimples. Trauma from popping pimples can cause scarring. Yes, it can be hard not to squeeze but resist the temptation. Prescription creams can effectively treat your acne.
In the past treating scars and being on Roaccutane is not advised, however we have developed a very safe and effective method of acne scar revision on patients who are on low dose Roaccutane. This method is not laser based, however we use radiofrequency waves to heat up collagen scars, sparing the upper layers of skin. 4 treatments are spaced between 2-4 weeks apart. RadioFrequency treatments are not associated with any significant downtime.
More on the Acne Free RF Program
Treating darker skin types with acne scarring is much more difficult than treating fair skin patients, however effective treatments are possible. Lasers such as erbium, fractional erbium or RadioFrequency devices are preferred compared to Fraxel or CO2 laser as the former devices carry much less risks of scarring and skin colour changes. TCA CROSS is a safe treatment, even in darker skin types.
The use of sunscreen before and after acne scar treatments is very important, especially in darker skin patients.
Very mild and early acne scars can be treated with AHA or Glycolic acid peels. This form of peeling is gentle, and works well for both blackhead as well as mild acne scars. Most patients will need a series or chemical peels over a course of weeks.
For very deep acne scars, TCA CROSS chemical peels can be very effective in decreasing scarring. In fact they are often better than laser as the initial step in acne scar revision. Dr Davin Lim often uses TCA CROSS to raise acne scars to an shallow depth, before laser resurfacing. This two-step approach gives superior results compared to just laser treatment of deep acne scars.
Yes. Dermal grafts and dermal fillers are ideal for atrophic scars. Atrophic scars include saucer shaped acne and chickenpox scarring, as well as divets and depressions. Fillers provide an almost ‘instant’ fill for these areas, with minimal downtime for the patient. Most fillers last between 6- 18 months. Dermal fillers cost between $280 for one or two small scars- up to $2500 for large areas that need collagen replacement.
We tend not to use much Dermal Grafting, as the side effect profile of this procedure is too high. Dermal grafting will result in tiny lines on top of the scars, and maybe associated with ‘cyst formation’ after the procedure. Our preferred method is to treat with Fractional laser, as this stimulates your own body to produce collagen, then fill what is left with a dermal filler. This produces the best results.
Yes. We do encourage patients to treat active acne before or during acne scar treatments. Treating acne is very important as this prevents further scarring. Depending on the type and severity of acne, our Specialists will advise a suitable acne treatment program to run in parallel with your acne scar revision program. In severe cases of scarring and active acne, we encourage patients to undertake the Acne Free RF Program.
More on the Acne Free RF Program
Dermapen is the next evolution in skin needling. This is a very cost effective method of non-laser fractional resurfacing, and is an ideal treatment for patients who exhibit mild to moderate atrophic and rolling scars. Dermapen treatments use a needle to break up scars that lie beneath your skin.
Most patients will require at least 4-6 treatments for optimal results. Treatments are safe, with a heal time of 3-5 days. Enquire today, Dermapen treatments start at only $240 per session (excluding anaesthesia).
For added results we can combine Dermapen fractional treatments with Red Light (not BLUE OMNILUX) phototherapy. This combination improves outcomes, and speeds up the recovery time.
More on Dermapen for acne scars
Dermatologists at the Acne Specialist Clinic perform scar removal at a SPECIALIST level. We ensure that patients will have the absolute best outcome possible, however we require commitment from suitable candidates.
Acne scar revision at Westside Laser is not a lunch time procedure, but a medical procedure performed by professionals at the very highest level of care and skill. Patients should ask the following questions prior to considering acne scar revision-
- Am I committed to a scar revision program? This program may take upto 6 months to achieve, depending on the level and severity of scarring.
- Have I got enough downtime to recover from treatments?
- Am I committed to ensure follow ups are met?
- Can I qualify for the costs associated with Specialist Scar Removal? (Payment plans are available)
- Am I confident in my treating scar specialist?
More on Acne Scar Treatments made simple
No two acne scar patients are alike, and an individual approach to scar removal provides the very best outcomes. Different types of acne scars will have ideal treatments. Dr Davin S. Lim is authored the ‘Synergy Program’ for acne scars. This method of scar removal is modelled in the treatments we perform at the Acne Specialist Clinic.
- Ice pick scars are deep-lying acne scars, most frequently seen on the cheeks. This form of acne scarring responds very poorly to Fraxel, Fractional lasers, and even Full Laser Ablation. Simple techniques such as chemical peels, or punch excision are often the most effective method of removing ice pick scars.
- Rolling scars on the cheeks and temples are one of the most difficult types of acne scars to remove, especially in darker skin types. We often use Fractional lasers over multiple treatments to improve this form of scarring.
- Tethered or anchored scars are puckered and lie deep in the layers of skin. A simple and very effective method of scar revision is subscision. This technique breaks the collagen bonds that anchor the acne scar.
- Box scars, and shallow even saucer scars often respond well to full laser ablation. In some cases a dermal filler is used to fill any underlying depression.
Most patients will have multiple types of acne scars, and hence a tailored approach will give the best results.
A referral is encouraged but not mandatory. A referral can assist you in getting a partial rebates back from Medicare.
Consultations for acne and acne scarring are partially claimable from Medicare. Procedures performed by Specialists such as Full Laser Resurfacing, scar revision, scar subscision and surgery carry a Medicare rebate.
Our clinic can arrange a referral for your consultation. Call 07 3871 34 37 to discuss this process and appointment times.
The Acne Specialist Clinic is open from Monday to Saturday. A referral from a GP will enable patients to claim a percentage of the consultation fee as well as any procedures from Medicare.
In most cases we do not perform major acne scar revision during the first consultation. The first consult is designed to take a medical history, as well as document and plan for scar revision procedure.
Scar revision can be carried out via two pathways -
- By a Specialist Dermatologist using lasers, surgery and high end peels. This pathway give the best possible results, and in some cases are partially Medicare claimable.
- By a Specialist Nurse via the Acne Solutions Clinic. This provides entry level scar revision including Dermapen and RadioFrequency treatments.
For more information on booking times and the referral process call 07 3871 34 37.
Saturday appointments will require a booking deposit, as spaces are limited.
1. Specialist training
Westside’s Acne Specialist Clinic has the highest level of Specialist training in the use of laser and cosmetic procedures for acne scars. We are not cosmetic GPs but we are Specialists trained in the management of skin disorders such as acne and acne scarring.
2. Latest technology
Our equipment is always state-of the art. Lasers are like computers- new models are released every 6 months. We constantly update our equipment, taking delivery of 3-4 new laser machines per year. Patients can be assured they are undergoing the very latest in acne scar treatments using the newest medical lasers.
3. Medicare rebates
Importantly, Medicare recognises Specialists as providers of acne scar revision, and patients are entitled to appropriate Medicare rebates for consultations, follow-ups as well as many forms of scar revision.
Discuss the differences between Specialist and Cosmetic Doctors with your GP.
More on the Acne Specialist Clinic Team
* Medicare rebates apply to some acne scar revision methods such as full laser resurfacing, subscision, surgery and consultations. Fraxel, Fractional laser resufacing, OMNILUX, Skin Needling, RadioFrequency E Matrix, and Micordermabrasion are not covered by Medicare.
Westside Laser Dermatology has one of Australia’s largest collection of skin directed lasers. Different lasers are used to treat conditions such as birthmarks, scarring, hair removal, skin pigmentation and skin rejuvenation.
Acne scar revision is performed with the following instruments of choice-
We have several devices including 2 Fraxel lasers, Erbium Laser (ProFractional), CO2 Laser (CORE), Ebium modulation with Sciton. Different fractional lasers are chosen depending on skin type and scar type.
Fully ablative lasers
Including the CO2 and Erbium. These lasers are employed to treat severe scars, as part of our Synergy Program for scar revision.
Including the V BEAM and Nd Yag Laser. These lasers are designed to treat red acne scars.
Including the EMatrix system, E2 and Pologen Fractional RF. This is a non-laser method of treating very early acne scarring.
IPL - BBL
This is a non-laser method of treating early red acne scars. Vascular lasers including the VBEAM are far superior compared to IPL for the treatment of red scars.
Low Level Lasers - Class 3 OMNILUX Blue and Red Phototherapy
This treatment is only suitable for every mild and early acne scarring, or treating active acne. OMNILUX has been largely replaced with RadioFrequency for the management of acne scars.
We update of lasers every 4 months to ensure that patients are treated with the very latest Specialist equipment.
Want to know more on what is the best laser for your skin? Acne scar treatments made simple
The Acne Specialist Clinic is staffed by a team of Specialist Dermatologists and nurses. Dermatologists are doctors who spend an extra 5 years of training in addition to a basic medical degree. All we do is skin! Our clinic treats over 4000 cases of acne per year, and performs over a thousand cases of acne scar revision annually.
Dr Davin S. Lim, Dr Shobhan Manoharan, Dr Brad Jones, Dr Belle Cominos and Dr Scott Weber are laser dermatologist who have undertaken further subspeciality training in the filed of laser work.
Dr Davin S. Lim, is also a National and International lecturer in acne scar revision. He trains cosmetic doctors and other specialists in the art of scar treatments, and has several ground breaking papers in the field of acne scar treatment.
More on the Acne Specialist Clinic Team
Some procedures such as full laser ablation can be partially covered under Medicare. Surgical treatment of scars, including dermal grafting, punch excisions and subscision also carry a Medicare rebate. All cases of acne scarring performed by a Specialist Medical Practitioner can be tax deductible.*
Procedures such as Fractional RF, The Acne Free RF Program, Glycolic peels, Dermal Fillers, Fraxel laser and Fractional laser resurfacing are not covered under Medicare. Our team will discuss the total out of pocket costs, including any Medicare rebates prior to any scar revision procedures.
* Discuss with your accountant the tax threshold for medical treatments as tax laws can change.
Yes we do. We are mindful of the cost of specialist procedures and our finance team can assist you in application for payment plans via Mac Credit.
Call 07 3871 34 37 and speak to Christa in regards to payment structures within the clinic.
Acne scar treatments vary in price according to the complexity of scar revision, the extent of scarring, and the type of treatment used. Acne scars are highly variable, and hence the vast array of treatments available. Some treatments such as full laser ablation are partially coved by Medicare.
As Specialists, patients are entitled to Medicare Rebates and Tax deductions for most procedures, including consultations.
As a guide:
- Initial consultation with a Specialist Dermatologist: $198
- Fractional RF treatments: $200 - $300 per treatment
- The Acne Free RF Program: $ 1100 for 4 treatments
- Fractional laser treatments: $750 - $1200 per treatment
- Vascular Laser Treatment for red scars: $ 590-$790 for 3 sessions
- TCA Cross for ice pick scars: $490 - $900 per treatment
- Full Laser Ablation: $1900 - $4500, depending on area
- Dermal fillers: $280 - $2500, depending on area
- Skin roller needling: $120 - $280 per treatment
- Dermapen fractional treatments: From $240
- Chemical peels (glycolic acid peels): $95 per chemical peel
- Surgery - punch excision, subscision: $400 - $1200
- Synergy Program for acne scars: $3500 - $7800
* Medicare Rebates apply for certain procedures such as full laser ablation, surgical treatments, consultations and follow-ups. Acne scar revision procedures performed by Specialists are tax deductible. Discuss with your accountant in regards to tax thresholds.
A Specialist appointment with a Dermatologist is set at $198. You will receive a partial Medicare Rebate if you have a valid referral from a GP. Remember, acne scarring is a medical condition and you maybe entitled to a Medicare claim for certain procedures.
For patients who would like to undertake scar revision procedures at an entry level, we provide treatments via the ACNE SOLUTIONS CLINIC. This Clinic is run by specialist nurses, supervised by Dermatologists. Scar treatments such as RadioFrequency and Dermapen Fractional treatments start from $240- a cost effective entry point to acne scar removal. No referrals are needed to visit the Acne Solutions Clinic.
Yes! In fact Dr Davin Lim has devised a method of treating active acne as well addressing acne scars. This is called the Acne Free RF program and utilizes state of the art RadioFrequency to treat acne scars. In fact this program is ideal for scarring cases of acne, and is compatible with low dose Roaccutane. This method of scar revision is unique, as it address acne scars and treats acne at the same time.
Your recovery period will depend on factors including what treatment you receive and the type of acne scars. Some treatments such as Dermal Fillers and RadioFrequency Fractional Acne Treatments have little or no downtime, whilst Fractional laser/ Fraxel/ ProFractional have intermediate down of 2-5 days. Fractional laser treatment has a quicker recovery time compared with full resurfacing.
Our Specialists can give you an accurate indication of downtime based upon examination and a discussion of suitable treatment options.
More on Fraxel laser for acne scars
All patients will receive an improvement of their scarring. The percentage of improvement ranges between 40%-90%. How much improvement you will receive will depend on your skin type, your scar type and the treatments performed. We approach acne scarring with a tailored approach - "The Synergy Program." This provides the greatest improvement in acne scarring.
More on Synergy Program for acne scars
Fraxel/ ProFractional/ Core / PEARL lasers are all Fractional Lasers. This is the buzz-word in acne scar revision over the past 3 years and represents state of the art technology in the treatment of acne scars. Unlike Full laser resurfacing, fractional laser, as the name suggests, treats only ‘fractions’ of the skin, allowing you to heal faster compared to normal laser resurfacing. The flip side of Fractional Laser is that you will require more than one treatment for optimal results. Most recently, a newer type of Fractional device has entered the scene called RadioFrequency Fractional – this has much less down time than fractional devices.
This acne scar revision program is the Acne Specialist Clinic’s signature treatment for acne scars. Dr Davin S. Lim has presented this method of scar treatment in various National and International Conferences.
Synergy involves many different methods to treat acne scar types, and breaks the cook-book approach to acne scar treatments. Each scar type is matched to the patient’s skin type and downtime. A series of treatments are then prescribed over a period of 6-8 months. We combine methods such as TCA CROSS, Fractional lasers, RadioFrequency Fractional treatments, Subscision, Vascular lasers, and Dermal fillers to achieve the best possible results.
More on the Synergy Program for acne scarring
Our specialists will guide you through scar treatments. The first step involves a consultation with a Laser Dermatologist. A medical history and examination will be conducted, as well as facial and scar mapping with photography. An open discussion will then be conducted in regards to what treatments are best suited for your type of scarring. Identifying the type of acne scars and your skin type will determine what is the best method of acne scar removal. The procedure, risks, heal time and costs will be discussed in this consultation.
What treatment you will require for maximal improvement will depend on several factors including your skin type, your scar type and your downtime.
With The Synergy Program, we tailor treatments according to you. Scar treatments range from Fractional Laser, Full Laser ablation, RF scar treatments, TCA cross, dermal fillers, subscision and vascular laser. Treatments are individualised for each scar type, so an accurate assessment will dictate which method we use.
More on acne scar treatments made simple