Acne Scarring FAQs

Acne Scarring FAQs


How does laser acne scar treatment work?

There are a few different ways to use lasers to improve acne scarring. One, is a fully ablative laser, such as an aggressive CO2 laser treatment. Very few physicians perform this type of treatment, anymore, with the advent of newer technologies with less downtime and higher safety profiles. However, in the right hands, and with the right skin-type, fully ablative CO2 treatments can be very effective. Another option is a fractional laser treamtent (such as Fraxel, or many other brand names.) Some of these fractional treatments are considered “non-ablative” (not puncturing the skin), and others are “partially ablative” (the laser penetrates the skin in “columns” rather than removing the entire skin layer.) Some ablative lasers use CO2, and some use Erbium. The Erbium lasers vaporizes out columns of damaged skin tissue, without generating significant heat. CO2, on the other hand, generates significant heat. This heat can make it more likely to develop hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) in the treamtent area, especially in darker skin types. Therefore, especially considering our Hispanic, Native American, and other darker skin types in New Mexico, Dr. Chavez chose the Erbium (Sciton Profractional laser) for her fractional treatment of choice. The third option for laser acne scar treatments are non-ablative options (they don’t pierce the skin, at all.) In the past, these treatments were generally very temporary and only minimally effective. However, the new Regenlite laser has shown very significant and gentle improvement with generally no downtime, no pain, and no side-effects. In general, the Regenlite works well for “soft”, “rolling” acne scars, whereas the Profractional tends to work better for harder “boxcar” and “icepick” scars. See our Acne Scar Treatment page for more details.

How much does laser acne scar treatments cost?

This varies depending the specific laser treatment chosen, and the size of the treatment area. You can read our prices for laser acne scarring treatments on the Acne Scar Treatment page.

What before and after results can I expect after laser acne scar treatments?

Generally, we tell our clients to not expect more than a 50% improvement in acne scarring. This varies, of course, on the severity and depth of the scarring, the type of treatment done, the number of treatments, the person’s individual skin, and other variables.*

How is the Profractional laser different from other laser treatments?

Before Profractional laser treatments, there were two types of laser treatments: fully ablative and non-ablative. Fully ablative laser treatments involve vaporization of entire layers of skin cells at a very high temperature. This treatment is very effective but is associated with a high incidence of side effects and typically requires a lengthy healing period. Non-ablative laser treatments can have a lower incidence of side effects and little healing time, but require numerous treatments over many months and have widely variable results. Profractional treatments combine the effectiveness of ablative lasers with the benefits of non-ablative lasers.

How does the Profractional laser work?

The Profractional Laser treatment is designed to target specific portions of damaged tissue. By creating microscopic “wounds” within the targeted areas, Profractional laser treatments trigger the body’s natural healing process accelerating the production of collagen and new, healthy skin cells.

What are the risks of ProFractional laser treatments?

Swelling and redness are the most common side effects from treatment. If swelling does occur, it is minimal and generally subsides within a day or two. Redness generally occurs and will fade over several days. There is a very limited risk of skin pigment changes, infection or scarring.

How many treatments will I need?

2-4 treatments is average. Improvement begins quickly, but continues over several months. Optimal improvement is usually visible in 3 months or longer. This time frame and treatment structure allows for complete healing and replacement of damaged tissue with new collagen and elastin, and viable healthy skin cell growth.*

Is the ProFractional Laser Treatment painful?

Most patients describe the treatment as having a “prickling” sensation. A topical anesthetic is available at no charge.

What precautions should I take after treatment?

You must apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher (UVA/UVB) after every two hours of sun exposure. Avoid direct sun exposure before the treatment, during the healing process, and for at least 3 months after treatment.

If  you have any additional Acne Scarring questions or for more information, please email Dr. Chavez directly at: or call or text her directly at 505-888-3733.

If you would like to schedule an appointment click here.

*Individual results may vary.

Clearwaves Medical Laser Group | 1120 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87112 | 505-888-3733