First off, thanks so much for posting this. I have really similar scarring to yours from overuse of benzoyl peroxide, so your story really gives me hope and I plan on doing both TCA and dermastamping or rolling in the future. That being said, I still have cystic acne, although I think its like remnants trapped in my skin and not anything new. Just out of curiosity, how'd you get rid of your acne?
I use Spironolactone and diet. Spiro is a Godsend for me. But it did take about 6-9 months before I totally stopped breaking out. However I DID treat scars during that period too.
But diet is still very important. If I stray and eat junk food I will get clogged pores again.
Here's my before and afters:
Just wanted to post my success for moral support and encouragement for anyone else like me that thought they'd NEVER make progress.
I had acne my whole life and it became cystic when I reached my late 20's. I had the worst acne of ANYONE I'd ever seen, I even had to have some surgical excision of cysts that never left. It was that bad. I don't use any acne products. I only wash my face once a day, don't even wash it in the mornings. I use coconut oil as a cleanser sometimes and a makeup remover if I wear make up.
The pics are about 2 years apart. I attribute the improvement in scarring to derma-stamping, single needling, STOPPING retin-A, silicone mircro-droplet injections, TCA spot treatment on scars and eating a healthy diet with no soy, grains, or unsaturated oils. There are some red areas in this after pic because I recently did some TCA spot treating on a couple icepick scars but I don't break out anymore and this redness is temporary and easily covered with make up.
I highly recommend derma-stamping and TCA for scars, when used cautiously and only if you've educated yourself on proper use. I really love using a 30%tca to spot treat small spots at a time because I don't have to hide in my house for 2 weeks that way, it's a slower longer process but I find that at least that way it actually gets done. As for stamping, I now do it once a month (or every 4-6 weeks) and I also just starting massaging my face and scars which feels good and brings blood flow to the surface of your skin making it healthier. There's a post somewhere on the forums here called "30min massage for scars" you can read which is very helpful too. I don't even use any cleansers except honey in the shower and sometimes coconut oil. I got rid of all the store bought, chemical laden crap. That being said, I do think salicylic acid, lactic acid and tca are good as long as they're not done too much, and health wise, I feel they're pretty safe to use. They're made from milk and fruit.
I used to think it would never get better and I'm so glad I was patient, took pictures, kept learning, and kept persevering.
Did you do the TCA at home yourself?? My scars are so similar to yours please please please tell me what you bought and how you did this pleasee! Your skin looks AMAZING now!!
Yes, I do tca and more recently Jessners peels at home.
I used TCA from make up artists choice and skin obsession.
I bought dermastamps from Owndoc.com
And I use the cheap little diabetic prick needles you can get at Waglreens/CVS to single needle. Like this:
I LOVE using those because they are already sanitzed (they come with a little cap) and they're so cheap. It's like 100 needles for 3 bucks.
I also have gone to see Dr Sam Lam in Texas for fillers. He's excellent at what he does. But I wouldn't be where I am today without needling and tca.
You said you got rid of new scars with TCA, is that correct? Like they completely disappeared?
How old were they?
And how many times did you have to use TCA on them?
I have heard that new scars are easier to treat because they haven't 'matured'.
I believe most of my scars are less than 4 months old, like they're still red, and they all flatten out when I stretch my skin.
I am really torn about taking action now or waiting to see what will happen to them over the next few months (still hoping the will magically go away I suppose) but I don't want to miss that window of opportunity to treat them while they're fresh.
Any advice would be appreciated.
The new ones were probably less than 6 months old.
Oh yeah, if they're still red they are very young, and might not even be a real scar. You should have success with some deep peels on those and at the least it would remove redness and then you could see where you stand.
You can try needling and see if it feels like a scar. If you needle it and it's tough, or hurts and there is a lot of resistance you'll know there's scar tissue there. If it's soft than it will probably go away on it's own.
btw you said that you do stamping once a month now. how often would you do it before?
Whenever I could. Sometimes every week, depending on how deep or thorough I went last time.
And sometimes I would forget to do it for a couple months at a time.
did you just have rolling scars ? how many treatment did you do
I had rolling, icepick and boxscar.
No idea. A LOT. It's been years.
Ok awesome I drink raw milk. I also eat grass fed butter. I will start cooking my kale and putting butter on it, I always eat it raw in smoothies but sometimes I'm not sure if my stomach digests greens that well for some reason.
I've been doing lots and lots of reading and I think acne has made me smarter (at least!) just because I love reading on how our body heals and works with different vitamins, minerals, proteins, good fats and enzymes. I would had never know what i know today if it weren't for skin problems. love researching on it I now am free of acne but since I'm working on my scarring I try to stay away from alcohol for the most part to help my body heal faster.
thank you for all the help! your amazing!
Believe it or not, I would recommend cooking your greens, not eating them raw. They won't digest well and can be anti thyroid. Google Ray Peat's articles on the scientific basis for this.
You're on the right track focusing on diet.
I also want to edit this to include an awesome tool I recently discovered which I LOVE which is this:
After you do needling (make sure you do it enough that you're bleeding pretty good because blood flow is the key to renewing tissues and creating more scar free skin), put on a suction cup right away.
It's awesome at bringing and keeping blood flow to the area!
Additionally, a lot of people keep messaging me asking the same questions which I've already addressed, so here's some recapping and general tips:
When you do TCA make sure you do a test spot, like maybe by your ear or someplace you can cover it up if need be.
My experience with TCA and other peels is that it's worth doing a heavy peel if you can manage the downtime because you will get a whole new layer of skin on your face. And it will remove or at least lighten red marks right away.
And If you do a TCA peel, say 12.5% and it doesn't seem to do much, you can slowly increase to a higher strength (very carefully) and get the results you're looking for. I use a q-tip to apply acids. But I've used toothpicks before too if I'm treating an icepick scar. I've used anywhere from 12.5% to 30% depending on what I'm treating. I would not recommend doing a peel at the same time as needling. Maybe a couple days after. Or you could alternate needling with peels every couple weeks.
The concentration you want really depends on YOUR skin, so I can't say exactly what's best for each person. The higher the concentration, the better the results, but you should still work up to it. And do your whole face if you can so you don't have spots that are darker than other parts of your face.
I haven't done a lot of lactic or glycolic peels but I've done some Jessners peels lately, which I LOVE because it doesn't make my skin dark.
If you do something like say a Jesssners peel, you won't have as much downtime and you can do it every two weeks usually. I like those ones. On my skin I figured out if I only do 1 or 2 layers, it won't frost or anything and then I'll very slowly peel around 4-7 days later.
However, if I do it heavier, until frosted, it will look MUCH WORSE at first because it will darken then skin, but then the good part is it repairs more at once and you peel sooner. On my skin if I do a deep peel, I'm actually done with it quicker because it's so deep that it peels quickly.
Some scars will not improve very much with peels because there is such deep scar tissue underneath that the TCA can only reach maybe 10-20% of the depth of the problem. So that's why you need to combine needling with peels. Rolling scars are most likely going to respond better to deep needling and fillers (go to someone very experienced if you do this! Dr Sam Lam is the only I can reccommend because I've been to him with sucess).
And I've been really surprised before at scars that I thought were minor atrophic shallow scars, only to find out when I needled it that there was a ton of really hard thick scar tissue under the surface. It seems needling at an angle almost flat underneath the skin is the best way to break that kind of scar up.
And you'll know when you hit scar tissue because it will kinda snap and pop a bit, and/or be painful and you'll feel a lot more resistance. Sometimes I find a lot of scarring where you can't even see it from the surface, it might by 1 cm away from the scar but I find it with my needle.
Also, instead of just doing what other people tell you or trying to find step by step instructions, think about what kind of scar you have, what's causing the appearance and treat accordingly. For instance, if it's rolling, there's probably a lot of thick hard tissue underneath that needs to be needled. You could needle it several times and also get filler to perfect it.
If it's icepick your best bet is usually to needle it from all angles underneath in combo with a high percentage TCA spot treatment.
If it's a box scar which is usually the most difficult, it will need needling and TCA but I think needling and/fillers is the best for those because TCA won't reach it all.
And don't eat junk. If you're dieting and not getting enough calories and good protein (milk and cheese for example which have a good calcuim to phospate ratio) you're body simply CAN'T heal properly.
This is probably why some people can do the exact same scar treatment and while one person won't get anywhere, the other will have success. Your body needs to be healthy to heal well. There simply are no short-cuts.
God bless ya'll and good luck! You'll get there.
Part of the sucess is figuring it out on your own too. So enjoy that part of it. There's some common sense involved. Be careful, test and observe. Treat it like a math problem and problem solve. It CAN be fixed or at the least DRAMATICALLY improved. That I know FOR SURE.