Acne scarring doesn’t have to be for life

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters yesterday morning.

Acne scars affect a lot of people.

Sommer said, “It usually starts when you’re younger. When boys and girls turn into men and women, they go through puberty and some suffer from more acne than others. Due to the process, it can lead to acne scarring, which can as you become an adult affect your physical appearance and it’s something that you might want to have corrected.”

Acne can take a while to heal.

Sommer explained, “Acne forms on your skin and the body, and your body quickly launches its natural healing process because it is an injury and it tries to fix it. Sometimes though acne can go deeper into the skin and that’s where people end up to tend to have more inflammation that will cause some scarring to happen. Acne forms when you have pores in your skin and they get clogged, too much oil, dead skin cells. Children are not really good about washing their face that tends to exacerbate the issues. They don’t want to shower. They don’t want to wash their face. Down here it’s hot, you’re hot. You sweat all the time. Those are all triggers that could clog your pores.”

Too much tissue can create a raised scar.

Sommer said, “Sometimes, based on the body’s reaction, it could have too much tissue, not enough tissue and scarring can occur. If you produce too much tissue, you can get what is known as a hypertrophic scar. That’s kind of like a raised scar. Then on the other hand, when you don’t have enough tissue, it looks like a depression in your skin. They call that in that atrophic scar. Sometimes you may have a discoloration in your skin or a darker mark in your skin. That also is referred to as hyperpigmentation. All these different things that can occur from acne, especially to people that are prone to have acne, their breakouts are more frequent, it takes longer to recover from.”

To prevent scarring, the most important thing is don’t pop it.

Sommer said, “Because you’re not professionally trained on how to extract right in the right way. Pressure and so forth. So, it may be tempting, but hands off, don’t touch. Touching, poking, picking can lead to more production of oil in the skin, cause deeper trauma which both increase the risk of scarring.”

What are the factors for scarring?

Sommer said, “Genetics. If acne runs in your family, my husband’s side of the family, they kind of have acne and acne scarring on his side. Genetics plays a part. Sun exposure. So down here, especially so now if you have the genetics, and you’re in the sun all the time, it’s going to increase your risk of acne scarring. Of course everybody goes through puberty and all the different changes in the hormones, that teenagers go through. Some teenagers have worse breakouts than others. It just depends on the frequency. So somebody that might play sports or tend to have oily skin they will probably break out more often than somebody that doesn’t.”

Males tend to have more scarring than females, but makeup on anyone can add to closing pores.

Sommer said, “It’s really important if you are sensitive, you have frequent breakouts of acne that you take your makeup off before going to bed, and have good hygiene. Wash your face in the morning, wash your face at night, but especially not to go to bed with a face full of makeup.”

The PicoSure laser available at the Key West Medical Center can help with acne scarring.

Sommer said, “It does aid in skin rejuvenation and acne treatment. It transfers energy to the area, and it converts that energy into pressure waves, so it’s not heat, but that helps to break down the scar. The shattered pigments are removed from the lymphatic system and it’s stimulating the body to create new healthy skin cells of collagen and elastin. So over time, your complexion will look brighter, healthier and smoother. The number of treatments depends on the severity of the acne, the acne scarring. It took years and years for you to form that scar, so it’s going to take a little bit to help get rid of that scar. So the number of treatments will depend on age of the patient, how long they have acne, if they still have breakouts. Some people go well into adulthood and still have acne breakouts. So trying to find the combination of just not the laser and skincare, which we do offer skincare as well to try and combat it,  during the treatment and post treatment.”

Results are typically expected with three to five treatments.

Sommer said, “Sometimes after the first treatment, depending on your age, again, the severity, the condition, you may not see an overnight success. We are damaging the skin and collagen elastin actually take from the time that the skin is injured, six months to start remodeling. So even after we’re in there doing our thing you’re getting your laser treatments, you’re taking care of your skin, your skin is still healing and repairing itself well after your treatments are completed. So usually we start with three. Again, if it’s very severe, we might try five. But after three, we can reassess and say take a break, wait a couple of months and come back and we’ll reevaluate to see where we are.”

The laser also removes tattoos.

Sommer said, “If somebody has a mistake that they want to erase that is on their body from a tattoo with some ink, we can help make that happen.”

People no longer have to live with acne scarring forever.

Sommer said, “I think that will really boost people’s self esteem knowing that, everybody sees your face first. While nobody’s dissecting it saying, oh, look, you got a spot there. You got a spot there. You see it in the mirror and that’s what you look at.”

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