Most Effective Treatments For Acne and Acne Scars

There are so many different types of acne that an effective treatment plan is as unique as the individual.  It is important to understand that there is no magic bullet to kill acne.  Instead, a consistent approach that focuses on prevention and the layering of various treatments most often yields the best results.  Here are some of the latest and greatest tools in the acne-fighting toolbox.

Isolaz Acne Therapy

If you combined a laser and a Dyson, you might have something like Isolaz.  Using consistent suction and the quick pulsing energy of a bacteria-killing laser, Isolaz sucks impurities out of the skin while stopping future break outs.  Patients report a slight worsening of symptoms followed by clearer skin.  However, deeper cystic acne does not respond as well and may need prescription medication combined with Isolaz or other treatments.

Omnilux Photo Therapy

Blue light has been a long-standing treatment for moderate acne.  The treatments are simple, painless and quick as the blue light kills the bacteria that causes acne.  The latest evolution in light therapy introduces red light into the treatment cycle.  A chemical peel or Isolaz treatment might be followed by alternating blue light and Omnilux red light therapy for best results.

SmoothBeam Laser

The SmoothBeam laser is non-ablative, meaning it does not burn or remove the skin surface, but rather delivers laser energy below the skin’s surface to stimulate collagen production.  A blast of cold cryogen is first sprayed onto the skin for protection followed by a laser pulse to heat the dermis.  This hot/cold cycle allows collagen to build from the inside out to gently lift acne scars up to the level surface of surrounding skin.  Patients should avoid the sun for 4-6 weeks prior to and after the treatment.  SmoothBeam usually requires several sessions.

Fraxel Laser

The gold standard for the treatment of deep acne scars is still the Fraxel laser.  Although it is an ablative laser, meaning it will remove the top layer of skin via laser, it does so in microscopic laser spots rather than removing whole areas of skin.  As the skin heals its tiny wounds, the surrounding areas that were untreated are rejuvenated, too.  The depth of the Fraxel’s energy can be highly controlled, allowing it to treat the most severe of acne scars without the tell-tale shiny ‘laser face.”  Some swelling and redness may occur but most patients report no major interruption to their daily routines.  Bonus – you’ll also have fewer wrinkles!

Fraxel Re:pair CO2 Laser

This is the ultimate in laser therapy, treating deeper and quicker than any other laser.  However, with results and speed comes sacrifice.  Using carbon dioxide laser beams, Fraxel Re:pair offers more aggressive treatment that has a recovery time of up to four weeks and an increased cost.  The higher cost is due in part to anesthesia and surgical room fees, as most doctors do not perform this treatment as an office procedure.  General anesthesia has its own risks, but the anxiety and pain usually associated with Fraxel treatments is eliminated and patients can focus on healing and then seeing dramatic results.

VBeam – Vascular Beam

As the name implies, this gentle laser targets areas of vascular redness on the skin such as acne, acne scars, birthmarks, spider veins and rosacea.  By delivering a cool blue beam to the surface of the skin followed by a yellow beam that penetrates deeper capillaries, patients feel little discomfort while the light gently heats and coagulates the vessels.  They are eventually reabsorbed by the body over the course of several treatments, which are often combined with SmoothBeam treatments.

PhotoDynamic Therapy

PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT) simply refers to the use of light, either blue or red, combined with a topical acne medication.  By first applying Levulan cream for about 30 minutes and then delivering light therapy for about 45 minutes, doctors are able to take the bacteria-killing benefits of light and “kick it up a notch.”   Levulan is activated by the light, which allows it to penetrate deeper into the hair follicle glands to reduce the amount of acne-causing sebum.  It is a completely non-invasive procedure, but some patients may experience redness or skin peeling in the days following treatment.


Mechanical exfoliation with tiny crystals and simultaneous suction is known as microdermabrasion.  It is effective for removing the very top layer of skin with gentle abrasion.  It is not highly effective in combating acne scars, due to the shallow treatment area, but it can help in removing some of the darker brown pigment left behind by break outs.  It is also a good prevention technique for future pimples because it helps to remove oil and impurities.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels have long been effectively used to reduce the appearance of acne scars.  Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) provide the most gentle peels, removing only the upper most layer of skin with little or no down time.  Plus, you get a smooth, healthy glow and less wrinkles.  The next level of peels use Trichloroacetic acids (TCA) and can be adjusted by the provider depending on the desired intensity.  A series of TCA treatments are usually recommended for acne scars.  The strongest of all peels is a Phenol peel, which requires much longer recovery times and possible permanent lightening of the skin.  Due to the increased risks, Phenol peels are rarely used today.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers such as Radiesse and Juvederm that are most often used to replace volume in areas of the face such as smile lines and cheeks can also be used in tiny amounts to “lift” pitted acne scars to the level of the surrounding skin.  Results are temporary, lasting anywhere from 9 to 18 months, but may help to eliminate some uneven skin texture.

Finding out which acne treatments work for you is often a series of trial and error, but you will get there!  With more options than ever before, there have never been so many ways to win the pimple battle.  Find a doctor that understands your particular needs, and don’t give up.

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About Victoria Strander

Writes about the latest beauty procedures. Her articles are available for syndication. Use Contact Page for inquiries.


  1. I never knew there was so many different ways to combat pimples, however they all seem to be quite expensive…

  2. The article says for deep acne scars the most effective treatment is Fraxel Laser, but I have heard that all the Fraxel treatments are painful?Is it so? What about side effects? If am to go for the treatment how much will it cost me?


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