Acne affects almost 40 million to 50 million Americans, but most pimples don't leave scars. If you have severe acne, however, characterized by infected cysts or nodules deep in the skin, that acne may leave behind depressed scars that look like pits or deep holes in your face, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. While these acne scars can damage your self-esteem, dermatologists offer treatments that can make them much less obvious.
More severe acne leads to more scars, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Cystic and nodular acne cause massive inflammation deep beneath the skin's surface, and once the inflammation heals, your face often has pits where the swollen pores had been. Your genes also play a role--if your family members, especially those closest to you, developed acne scars, you're more likely to get them, too.
Soften Scars With Surgery
Acne scar surgery can treat most deep scars successfully, according to the AAD. In this type of surgery, your dermatologist may remove your scars completely using a tool that looks like a small, round cookie cutter. Once the scars are gone, the dermatologist can replace them with skin grafted from another place on your body. Your surgeon also may opt to use a scalpel to separate your top layer of skin from the underlying scar tissue, which helps to raise and level the skin.
For very deep acne scars that look like holes in the face, your dermatologist may recommend combining acne scar surgery with another procedure, such as dermabrasion, that also can level the skin. Dermabrasion, which uses a rotating wire brush, and laser treatment, which uses powerful laser energy, both strip off the top layer of skin. Once that layer is gone, your scars look shallower and less severe.
Fill 'Er Up
Dermatological fillers offer another option for filling deep pits in the skin left behind by clearing acne lesions, according to the AAD. These fillers, which contain collagen, can serve to plump up the skin in these pits. However, collagen fillers don't last forever. In fact, most last only three to six months, although newer types of fillers may provide relief from scars for up to 10 years before they need to be redone.
If you have deep acne scars, it's unlikely you'll be able to fix them alone with just the help of over-the-counter scar reducing products, according to the AAD. Your dermatologist can explain your options for scar reduction surgery and procedures, most of which will involve healing time and visible wounds to your skin. Bad scars usually require a combination of two or more procedures to achieve the best results.