The Truth About Acne Scars: Dispelling Common Myths

by Dr Wan Chee Kwang
June 15, 2023

Acne is a skin condition that affects 9.4% of the world's population. While it is not life-threatening, it can be a source of distress, embarrassment and self-consciousness. Acne scars, often left behind after severe cases of acne, can further exacerbate these feelings. 

Having talked to clients in Singapore and helped them with acne scar removal, we realise there are many myths and misconceptions that get in the way of people understanding their condition and seeking treatment.

That’s why we’re debunking these myths and providing solutions that will help you make an informed decision about acne scar treatment.

Myth #1 - You only get acne scars if you pick them

Acne scars can occur even without squeezing or popping your pimples. While picking at acne can increase the likelihood of scarring, it is not the only factor. 

When you have an acne breakout, your body's healing response sends white blood cells to the area of infection to fight off the acne-causing bacteria. This process causes inflammation, damaging the surrounding tissue and leaving scars.

In some cases, patients experience excessive inflammation that causes more tissue damage. Their acne may not heal well and they develop scars.

Furthermore, certain types of acne, such as cystic acne, can cause more severe damage to the skin, leading to deeper scars. 

Myth #2 - Acne scars can be concealed by tanning

Some people believe that tanning can improve the appearance of acne scars because it can make the skin appear darker, which can help to camouflage the imperfections. This is untrue.

Tanning can make acne scars worse in the long run. Tanning can damage the skin and make it more susceptible to scarring and discolouration, particularly if you have fair skin. Ultraviolet (UV) exposure triggers the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for your skin colour. When your acne scars are exposed to UV rays, they can darken and become more noticeable due to the increase in melanin production.

Tanning can also worsen post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which happens when there is an overproduction of melanin because of skin inflammation. The combined effect of tanning and pigmentation can cause significant discolouration and require treatment.

Therefore, we do not recommend you rely on tanning to reduce the appearance of your acne scars.

Myth #3 - Acne scars cannot be prevented

While it may not be possible to avoid scars with all acne due to the tissue damage caused by inflammation, taking some precautions can lower your risk of developing them. 

  • Treat acne early

The earlier you treat your acne, the less likely you are to develop scars. Be sure to seek treatment before your acne becomes severe.

  • Don't pick or squeeze pimples

Picking or squeezing pimples can cause the bacteria to spread and increase the likelihood of scarring.

  • Use sun protection

Sun exposure can worsen acne scars and make them more noticeable. Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and wear protective clothing outside.

  • Avoid harsh skincare products

Some skincare products can irritate the skin and worsen acne, leading to scarring. Use non-comedogenic products and avoid harsh exfoliants and scrubs.

  • See a doctor

A doctor can help you develop a personalised treatment plan to prevent and remove acne scars.

Myth #4 Acne scar removal treatment is painful

The pain experienced during an acne scar removal treatment varies depending on the type of treatment used, the severity of the scarring, and individual pain tolerance. 

Treatments like chemical peels and laser resurfacing can cause mild discomfort but are usually well-tolerated and short-lived. On the other hand, a fractional radiofrequency microneedling procedure can be more uncomfortable. However, a dermatologist can minimise pain by applying topical anaesthesia. Some patients feel no pain at all. 

Myth #5 - Acne scar removal treatment is vain 

Seeking solutions to your acne scar problem is not a matter of vanity. There are legitimate reasons why acne scars should be treated. 

Severe acne scarring can have a profound impact on your self-esteem and mental health. The scarring can be disfiguring, leading to feelings of embarrassment and shame. This can cause you to avoid social situations and even lead to depression. 

To know more about the psychological effects of acne scars, read this blog post.

Myth #6 - Acne scar removal is just about lasers 

Lasers can help with scar removal by destroying scar tissue and encouraging the growth of new healthy skin cells. Lasers stimulate collagen production and scar remodelling.

However, overreliance on lasers may not give the best results for patients. A targeted combination approach is better. For example, with deep scars, it may be necessary to use dermal fillers and not lasers alone for the best results. 

At 1Aesthetics, we consider a patient’s scar configuration, skin type and lifestyle habits before designing an appropriate multimodal treatment plan. 

Professional acne scar removal treatment

Acne scars can be frustrating and impact your self-esteem, but it's important to have accurate information when it comes to treating and preventing them. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent acne scars entirely, seeking professional treatment can greatly improve the appearance of scars and prevent further damage. Some of the treatments we may suggest are:

  1. Fractional infrared laser therapy

Fractional infrared laser treatment uses focused beams of light to treat acne scars. The procedure works by creating tiny wounds in the skin, which stimulate the body's natural healing process and encourage the production of new collagen to improve the appearance of acne scars.

  1. Fractional picosecond laser therapy

Picosecond laser treatment employs short pulses of laser light to break down scar tissue. The picosecond laser emits pulses of light in extremely short bursts, measured in picoseconds (trillionths of a second). 

This rapid pulse delivery allows for precise targeting of the scar tissue without damaging surrounding skin cells. The heat generated by the laser stimulates the production of new collagen, which triggers the body's natural healing response. 

  1. Fractional bipolar radiofrequency therapy

Fractional bipolar radiofrequency therapy does not rely on light energy to create controlled injuries in the skin. Instead, it uses radiofrequency energy, which can penetrate deeper into the skin to deliver controlled heat to the tissue. It creates a pyramidal thermal injury zone, meaning there will be a larger coagulation zone deep within the skin but with minimal surface damage. This makes it effective for treating deeper acne scars.

  1. Fractional microneedle radiofrequency therapy

Fractional microneedle radiofrequency treatment uses insulated microneedles to deliver radiofrequency energy up to 4mm deep in the skin. This method causes minimal injury to the surface of the skin, resulting in greater efficacy and faster recovery.

  1. Chemical reconstruction of skin scars (CROSS)

Chemical reconstruction of skin scars is the placement of highly concentrated chemical peel to lift the base of deep scars. This method is suitable for boxcar scars and ice pick scars.

  1. Subcision and filler

A subdermal incision is made to break up tethered skin scars with small needle punctures. These scars are stuck to the deeper fascia by abnormal scar fibres. Once broken up, filler is injected to prevent the layers of skin from sticking back together during the healing process.

  1. Microsurgical scar excision

Microsurgical scar excision is recommended for scars that are raised or have an irregular shape. The scar tissue is removed with precision, to create a smoother and more even skin surface once the incision is sutured and heals.

At 1Aesthetics, we offer treatments tailored to each patient. We believe there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for removing acne scars. Rather, we design a multi-modal approach, identifying and addressing the unique needs of your skin. 

To take the first step towards achieving clearer, smoother, and healthier-looking skin, book a consultation today.


  1. H Chen. (2022).The striking burden of acne vulgaris across the world. British Journal of Dermatology
  1. Ding Ding Zhang. (2020).The efficacy of fractional CO2 laser in acne scar treatment. Dermatologic Therapy ,
  1. Charlene St Surin-Lord.MD. (2019) 8 Ways to get rid of acne scars for good. Healthline.
  1. Eva Due. (2007). Effect of UV irradiation on cutaneous cicatrices. Acta Derm Venereol (PubMed).

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