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Picking at your pimples is not recommended if you want to avoid acne scars. Acne scars may be caused by picking but can also be caused by cystic lesions, which may scar regardless of how much you avoid picking them.
Cystic lesions are deeper than comedonal acne (whiteheads and blackheads) and are the result of an overabundance of enzymes in the inflamed area as your skin tries to heal itself. This overabundance of enzymes destroys collagen and sometimes results in a scar. If you have cystic pimples you should contact your dermatologist to have them treated. Early treatment can often prevent these more serious forms of acne from occurring and reduce the potential for scarring.
Do you already have acne scars or inflammation from lesions and are looking for a way to reduce their appearance? Swelling and redness around a healing lesion can be managed with creams made to reduce inflammation and products that lighten hyperpigmentation. The redness and hyperpigmentation that accompanies the healing process is not a scar and can take 6-12 months to disappear. It should be noted that unprotected sun exposure is detrimental to the healing process and sunscreen should be worn outdoors to prevent further skin damage. If a mark does persist for over a year it is considered a scar or permanent mark.
If the scars are particularly deep, laser or filler treatments may be considered. Laser resurfacing can help fill in acne scar indentations by increasing new collagen production and evening the skin surface. The surface of the skin can also be raised with a dermal filler to improve skin smoothness. Laser resurfacing is most effective with ice pick scars which are sharp, pitted scars. For scars that do not respond to these other treatments dermabrasion may be used to remove surface scars and reduce the appearance of deeper scars.
Using Fraxel lasers is one technique for reducing the appearance of acne scars. Fraxel lasers penetrate the surface of the skin and stimulate collagen production while resurfacing the skin. Most patients treated with Fraxel lasers will see the best results after 1-5 treatments. Some older laser technology made it necessary to have a long downtime for high results or multiple treatments with low results. Fraxel laser technology decreases downtime and increases the results. Read more about Fraxel here: Fraxel Laser Treatments.