A host of over-the-counter creams and gels are marketed for the treatment of acne scars. But beware, says Mayo Clinic experts--there's only a small chance that you'll notice results if you use these. However, silicone for acne scars, particularly raised scar types, is one readily available, over-the-counter treatment with which you might note slight improvement.
About Raised Acne Scars
Although most people experience depressed scars after acne resolves, some may instead notice that a scar forms above the skin's surface after an acne lesion resolves. These scar types, called hypertrophic scars and keloids, occur when connective tissue in the skin continues to grow even after a wound in the skin has closed. This may result in scars with a gristle-like appearance that are often darker than the skin's natural hue. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes that keloids are more likely to form on the chest, shoulders, back and earlobes. These scars are particularly problematic because they tend to grow larger with time and often re-form even after a patient has received medical treatment.
Silicone products appeal to many patients who want to avoid more costly, invasive scar removal treatments, says the AAD. Silicone can be incorporated into creams, gels and bandages (tape), which are available at drugstores and pharmacies without the need for a physician's prescription. The AAD notes that silicone has the added benefit of reducing tenderness and itching associated with raised scars.
To receive optimal benefits from a silicone scar product, the AAD stresses that these must be used regularly. Additionally, it may take several months before a raised acne scar shows signs of improvement. One study found that after six months of continuous use, 34 percent of participants noted that keloid scars flattened slightly. However, silicone won't eliminate acne scars entirely, cautions the AAD. More effective medical treatments for raised acne scars include corticosteroid injections, scar surgery, laser surgery and cryotherapy.
Silicone also has another application for acne scars when used in a medical setting. The AAD states that liquid silicone may be used as an injectable filler to plump up depressed scars. A 2005 study conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center in New York indicated that use of medical-grade liquid silicone was effective in permanently eliminating depressed acne scars when administered through multiple injections in five patients.
Silicone gels are more appropriate for treating raised acne scars on the face and parts of the body where it's difficult to apply silicone sheeting, points out the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health. Recommended products include Cimeosil brand silicone gels and sheeting and Hanson Medical's Scarfade gel (see Resources).