Facial acne scars improved with facelift

“I am having a facelift” is like saying “I am buying a car.” It is a very generic and broad statement that does not give much information. There are hundreds of different types, models, sizes, etc. of cars. The same goes for facelifts and some other surgeries like tummy tucks.

There is one type of facelift, little employed these days by most cosmetic plastic surgeons, that does help with facial acne scarring.

Causes of acne scarring
After the initial inflammation of the pimple and rupture of the pus both out of the skin and into the deeper layers, a scar is formed. The scar will contract and pull the overlying skin down, causing an “acne scar” or depression. At times these scars are deep and are called “ice pick” scars.

Treatments for acne scars

A number of different treatments are available for acne scarring, all with variable success rates.

Chemical peels

This treatment, the burning off of the superficial layers of the epidermis and dermis, has been ineffective in my experience. As I mentioned above, the cause of the scar is at the lower side of the skin dermal layer. Burning off the top layer doesn’t do much. I am surprised by how many patients with acne scars of the face have tried this.

Laser treatments for acne scars

The use of the CO2 laser or the Fraxel laser does work for facial acne scarring. I have seen great results in some and lesser results in others. Nevertheless, these are the first and second lines of treatment. The patient has a laser treatment, and if he or she wants more results, a second treatment is attempted. After that, there is probably little use in continuing laser treatments. The skin is burned in these types of treatments and the burn contracts and lessens the acne scar depression. Laserbraision, as these techniques are called, have supplanted dermabraisions, where the skin was physically ground down with sanding paper or a mechanical sander to achieve the same result but with more pain!


Once all laser options have been tried, a lifting and pulling of the face can be attempted by the plastic surgeon. Again, we will get an improvement, but the smooth, flat result all patients desire is not realistic.
The skin is elevated off the underlying fat and muscles of the face, in effect releasing the scarring to the underlying tissues. The pulling will stretch the skin and the excess is removed, thereby improving the scarring.
Options for treatment of facial acne scarring are varied and all are less than optimal, but for the patient with these problems, any improvement toward a more normal facial contour is worthwhile.