Suctioning: A Simple At-Home Therapy for Acne Scar Treatment
Vacuum-assisted massage or therapy, also known as suctioning, is an ancient alternative form of medicine used to treat a variety of ailments, including musculoskeletal problems, fatigue, arthritis, headaches, and the list goes on. In more recent years, suctioning has shown to be an effective treatment for cellulite and other forms of atrophic scarring, including acne scars.
A study performed by Harandi et al. showed that combining subcision with suctioning significantly improves clinical outcomes. Subjects who underwent subcision with consistent suctioning experienced a 60-90% improvement, whereas those who delayed suctioning had only a 30-60% improvement.
These results make sense because suctioning essentially works by lifting the skin through negative pressure. After subcision, scar attachments to the underlying skin, or tethers, are severed. However, there is always a chance that the scars reattach themselves to the deeper layers, recreating the skin depressions. Suctioning helps by preventing any tethers from reforming through mechanical pressure, thus reducing the need for repeated subcision treatments.
Can Suctioning Alone Help My Acne Scars?
Whether suctioning alone can produce significant results is up for debate. There are reports stating that suctioning can help with burns and scars, but there is little evidence supporting the efficacy of this intervention alone.
Several patients with mild cases of scarring at the Scar Healing Institute have seen great success with simple-at home suctioning. However, most patients need surgical and non-surgical intervention to really see the additive effects of suctioning for their acne scars.
It is important to note, however, that suctioning is not for everyone. Those with severe ice-pick or boxcar scars are unlikely to derive substantial benefit from suctioning. This is because these types of scars are not tethered in the same way that rolling scars are. In fact, needless aggressive suctioning can lead to unsightly bruising and tenderness.
Getting a professional opinion is important for individuals who are thinking of getting acne scar treatment. Here at the Scar Healing Institute, we perform ultrasound-guided and dermatoscopic visualization of your scars to determine the best course of action for your skin (and whether that should include suctioning).