Acne and chicken pox marks can be a life-long skin concern, and those who have it know that they’re incredibly hard to treat. That’s why a before-and-after photo showing a scar-free result can be enough to peak anyone with a pockmark’s attention.
A recent before-and after scar case on social media even had us stop and pause to see was behind the smooth result. Enter silicone injections—not the kind soap opera stars had injected into their lips in the 90s—but rather microdroplets of silicone. We did a little digging to find out if it’s safe and who would be a good candidate for this new technique.
New York dermatologist Howard Sobel, MD, who performed the procedure in the before-and-after case, says silicone microdroplet injections can help patients with acne scars, or someone with a scar that has become atrophic or has a shallow depressed center. “Ice pick scars however cannot be treated with silicone,” he says.
But is silicone even safe? Yes, says Dr. Sobel, but only in tiny amounts: “Medical grade silicone is very safe to treat acne scars. Silikon 1000, a type of medical-grade form of silicone, has been FDA-approved for medical treatment and has been used safely ‘off label’ for cosmetic treatment for many years.” Dr. Sobel says use of small increments is important because the treatment is permanent. “The silicone can also stimulate new collagen to form around the area so it is very important not to inject less than one month apart.”
Spokane, WA dermatologist Wm. Philip Werschler, MD says although he does not perform these injections at his practice, he agrees that this approach is best for patients who no longer have inflammatory acne activity, and have atrophic scars that are easily smoothed when stretched. “Because silicone doesn’t get reabsorbed in the body or break down over time like dermal fillers, the effect is very long-lasting.”
Dr. Werschler notes that while the treatment is safe, it should only be done by an experienced and qualified injector. “The most important aspect of this treatment is the experience of the physician administering it,” he says. “Not all dermatologists and plastic surgeons perform silicone injections, and in some states it is illegal.”
For patients who are not good candidates for silicone microdroplet injections, the use of other long-lasting dermal fillers can also help improve the look of acne scars. “Bellafill, which contains polymethylmethacrylate, has been tested and approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne scars. Typically, one or two injection sessions are needed to achieve complete or near complete scar correction, and studies show that results can last for five years,” adds Dr. Werschler.