– Dermatologists can certainly improve icepick acne scars, but they have to be careful not to make them worse, according to dermatologist Nazanin Saedi, MD, director of the Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.

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For icepick scars, she likes to use TCA CROSS (chemical reconstitution of skin scars) with trichloroacetic acid (TCA).

After about three to five TCA treatments, most patients will have a better than 50% improvement, Dr. Saedi said, but the treatment isn’t for darker skin types – Fitzpatrick types V or VI – because of the risk of pigmentation changes. Dr. Saedi uses toothpicks to apply a small amount of 80% TCA to the base of the scar, and waits for the “frost” to appear. It’s important not to reapply the TCA. “A lot of people double dip and ... keep dipping into the scar,” which causes more damage.

For patients with darker skin types, or those who don’t want to go through a series of treatments, punch excision is an option, with nonablative laser treatment a week later when sutures are removed. “Some patients heal beautifully,” but some patients may have a spread scar or a small atrophic scar at the punch site, she noted. Options to treat atrophic scarring after treatment are laser treatments and fillers.

She offered her advice in an interview at the Hawaii Dermatology Seminar, provided by the Global Academy for Medical Education/Skin Disease Education Foundation. It’s important to set realistic expectations, Dr. Saedi said.

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