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Dr Chen Kailun: How Inappropriate Laser Treatments Can Worsen Your Acne Scars

Laser Treatments for Acne Scars - Is it Bad

Acne scars can cause self-consciousness and frustration for many men and women. If you’re considering laser treatment to remove these scars, it’s crucial to understand the importance of getting treated by the correct laser, if lasers are even suitable for you and what could happen if laser treatments are administered incorrectly.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into why your acne scars look worse after treatment, the dangers of inappropriate laser treatment, and offer guidance on choosing the right practitioner and treatment for your needs.

Types of Acne Scars

Types of acne scars

Apart from your skin type and tolerance for pain and downtime, the type of acne scar you have will largely determine the kind of treatment you need. Briefly, here are the most common types of acne scars:

  • Ice Pick Scars: Deep, narrow scars that resemble small punctures or deep pores in the skin.
  • Boxcar Scars: Broad depressions with sharply defined edges, resembling the scars left by chickenpox.
  • Rolling Scars: Wide, shallow depressions with sloping edges that give the skin a wave-like appearance.
  • Hypertrophic / keloid Scars: Raised, thickened scars that develop when the body produces too much collagen during the healing process.
  • Pigmented Scars: Discoloration left behind after an acne lesion has healed, which can range from red or purple (post inflammatory erythema) to brown or black (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) in color.


It is not uncommon to have more than one type of acne scar; for this reason, most people require a combination of treatments.

Why Do My Acne Scars Look Worse After Laser Treatment?

Why do my acne scars look worse after laser treatment

Acne scar treatments are inherently stronger as the treatments –be it lasers, microneedling or subcision– need to break down the underlying scar tissue tethering the skin down. 

Regardless of the treatment modality used, it is important to pre-treat the skin and ensure the skin is healthy and ready for treatment. A lot of people, especially those with acne, have underlying sensitive skin due to years of inflammation and previous use of oral and/or topical medication, like isotretinoin. 

Without prepping the skin adequately, the skin is at risk of: 

Worsening of sensitivity and poor healing

A common feedback I get from patients is their fear of trying acne scar laser again, as previous experiences at other clinics caused their skin to be more red and sensitive. This reaction often occurs when the skin is already sensitive, leading to a compromised skin barrier. Exposing such delicate skin to strong acne lasers can exacerbate sensitivity and impede proper healing.

Inadequate results

Acne scar lasers rely on collagen and skin remodelling to improve. When the skin is damaged and cannot heal well, the remodelling process is compromised. Pre-treating the skin determines how well this remodelling happens and therefore the results of the treatment. This is why some patients don’t get much results from certain treatments, be it for acne scars or not.

New acne scars

Some practitioners solely concentrate on addressing existing acne scars without addressing the underlying acne problem. However, if there are still ongoing occasional breakouts, new scars may form while the old scars are treated, causing the process to be counterproductive. In certain cases, it may be necessary to stabilise the acne first before starting on acne scar treatment.

Are Lasers Always Necessary for Acne Scar Treatment?

Are lasers always necessary for acne scar treatment

Definitely not. The type(s) of treatments your doctor prescribes for you will depend on: 

  • The type of scar you have 
  • Your skin tone and quality 
  • How much downtime you can tolerate 
  • How well your skin responds to lasers 


Also, remember that acne scars are dynamic – their morphologies change over time as treatment progresses, and so will treatment modality. 

Acne scars are not easy to treat, and a comprehensive treatment plan requires constant review and assessment on the effectiveness of treatments, and combination of different modalities. 

The lack of a robust treatment plan might leave some acne scars partially treated, or reaching a plateau, making it disheartening for the patient in their journey to achieve smooth and flawless skin. 

Acne Scar Treatments

Our clinic offers treatments designed to address various types of acne scars.


Fractional CO2 laser Causes purposeful and controlled micro injuries to the skin, essentially resurfacing the skin. This process stimulates the production of collagen, therefore improving the texture and smoothening the skin and lightening the scar.
Sylfirm X  Combines microneedling and radiofrequency (RF) to trigger a wound healing response in the skin and tissue remodelling.

Unlike existing microneedling devices, Sylfirm X comes with an elaborate needle depth and multiple wave modes that ensures all skin types (including sensitive skin) are treated safely. It also has concurrent skin tightening effects, which help to stretch out scars.

Pico Hexa MLA Laser Combines pico and HEXA MLA technology to allow for more delicate and precise targeting. When used together, an effect called Laser Induced Optical Breakdown (LIOB) is created – this creates microscopic damage to the skin without harming the epidermis.
Skinboosters Enables deep skin hydration and plumps skin, reducing the depth of shallow acne scars. They also stimulate collagen production and renew skin cells.  They are synergistic with acne scar lasers to reduce downtime, promote healing and optimising collagen remodelling and results.
Dermal Fillers Adds volume to skin by raising the scar tissue and evening out the skin effectively.
Subcision Releases underlying tissue that causes acne scar formation with the use of a small needle. 
Fractional Erbium Laser Type of scar erbium laser can treat: Atrophic scars
Downtime: Plan for 3 to 5 days of downtime for lighter acne scars, or 7 to 10 days downtime for more severe acne scars
No. of sessions required: 4 for mild scars, 6 for severe scars
How soon to see results: Some results visible after first session

How to choose an Experienced and Skilled Practitioner

You must choose an experienced and skilled practitioner to ensure a successful acne scar treatment. Here are some guidelines to help you make an informed decision.


Start by researching clinics and practitioners in your area. Look for reputable clinics with a history of successful acne scar removal treatments in Singapore.


Verify the practitioner’s qualifications and credentials. Ensure they are licensed and certified in laser and injectable treatments.


Seek out practitioners with a proven track record in acne scar removal. Experienced professionals are more likely to provide safe and effective treatments. The practitioner should also be able to customise a plan for you keeping in mind your skin type and tolerance for pain and downtime without compromising efficacy.

Client Reviews

Check out reviews and testimonials from previous clients. Doing so can give insight into the practitioner’s skills and patient satisfaction.


Schedule a consultation with potential practitioners. Ask questions about their approach to acne scar removal and request before-and-after photos of previous patients.

Customised Treatment Plan

Look for a practitioner who offers a personalised treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Acne scars vary in type and severity, and a one-size-fits-all approach may not be practical.


Inquire about the laser technology and equipment used. Ensure that it is suitable for your skin type and scar condition, and make sure the clinic has a wide variety of machines available.

What You Can Do to Get Optimal Results?

To maximise the success of your acne scar laser treatment, here are the steps you can take.

Follow pre-treatment instructions

Your practitioner will provide pre-treatment instructions to prepare your skin. Following these guidelines is crucial for your safety.

Protect your skin post-treatment

After the treatment, protect your skin from harsh UV rays and follow the post-treatment instructions provided by your doctor.


Understand that laser acne scar removal may require multiple sessions for optimal results. Be patient and committed to the process.

Laser Acne Scar Removal in Singapore

Laser acne scar removal can be a confidence-boosting treatment when performed by experienced practitioners. However, the risks of choosing an inexperienced practitioner are significant and can lead to worse acne scars.

Following the guidelines for selecting the right practitioner and taking appropriate post-treatment care can enhance your chances of achieving optimal results and regain your confidence in your skin.

If you seek laser acne scar removal in Singapore, SL Aesthetic Clinic can be your trusted partner. Our team of doctors is skilled and experienced in laser acne scar removal. We have successfully treated numerous patients and have a deep understanding of the nuances of each case.

We will provide personalised care and a treatment plan to help you achieve your skin goals. We prioritise safety and efficacy in our treatments, ensuring you achieve the desired clear and radiant skin. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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