Is Retin-A as effective as other scar removal treatments?

Retin-A is cheaper and it sounds less invasive than other scar removal treatments, such as dermabrasion or a chemical peel, but can I count on it to remove the chicken pox scars I have on my face? At this stage, I'd be a happy customer even if they only faded a bit.


M, 34, Utah

Tags:man age 25-34 face scar

Yes, I also have a few raised scars from skin infections. After a few months of use, I noticed the old skin was flaking off and flattening the bumpy scars. It also helped lighten a few darker areas, which was a great bonus for my overall complexion. One of Retin-A’s (tretinoin) main ingredients is vitamin A, which I understand can be found in over-the-counter scar remedies, but I liked that Retin-A had a strength that actually worked. Just be sure to wash your face with a gentle cleanser before applying and wait up to 20 minutes before dabbing Retin-A on your scars. Always use sunscreen after using Retin-A—if you don’t, you could end up with a nasty burn for sun exposure that definitely isn’t helpful for sensitive, scarred skin. Just note that it could take up to a year to work, so be sure to stay in touch with your cosmetic doctor about your progress.

In my early 20s I had the unfortunate experience of having shingles. Not only did the pain cause issues, but after the pain was gone, I was left with scarring across my back. I wanted to get the scarring removed as quickly as possible. I tried a few things, but ended up trying Retin-A after the other methods did not work. It was cheaper so I was thrilled about not having to shell out as much money to get help. From my experience, I can say that you may see some slight fading of scars, but with topical retinoids its not enough to see a big difference. I still have a dark shadow of the scar across my back. I did try out the Retin-A cream for 5 months, but maybe I should have tried it for longer to see better results. It worked for one of my friends, but not for me. The best I can suggest is to try it and see if it works best for your skin type. I have more sensitive skin, and it kind of tingled when I left the Retin-A on for too long. I had to only leave it on my back scar for about 5 minutes at a time. Nonetheless, it did not clear my shingles scarring, as I had hoped. I am planning on trying a chemical peel for scar treatment to see if I can garner better results.

I experienced severe acne as a teenager and into my early 20s. I tried using topical Retin-A at home to treat the scars, and I did get some results. The acne scars did lighten using Retin-A, but it cannot handle pockmarks, which need to be smoothed with a CO2 laser treatment or filled with either new collagen for a dermal filler.

You should see a plastic surgeon to get the best option for your skin, rather than wasting your time on products that will fade the scars but not treat the true problem. If you're still experiencing acne breakouts, your doctor may recommend Retin-A to treat the acne and to prevent scars, but if you already have ice pick scars and pits, you probably need a filler or a skin treatment. My plastic surgeon examined my skin, listened to my concerns and showed me before and after photos with products and procedures that he recommended. Seeing a cosmetic specialist was the best way to go, rather than just getting online recommendations, because I'm finally happy with skin!

Retin A is definitely less invasive than some other types of scar removal procedures and treatments, but as far as deep acne scars go, it probably won't produce the results you are hoping for. If your scars are a bit more shallow, then Retin A may do the trick for you. If nothing else, you can probably count on it to improve the texture of your skin.