Does Retin-A Fade Acne Scars?


Retin-A is widely used in dermatology to treat a variety of skin conditions, though its initial and primary use has been for treating acne problems. It is now increasingly favored in anti-aging skin care solutions, for both its preventative and corrective benefits. It has positive effects on skin irregularities in the form of discoloration and uneven texture. Acne scars present a skin irregularity of both color and texture, and Retin-A is used in topical application to correct this unwanted skin condition.

Retin-A Skin Functions

Retin-A's generic name in topical skin care products is tretinoin. Retin-A shares and enhances the benefits and functions vitamin A lends to the skin, as Retin-A is a derivative of Retinol, a form of vitamin A. Retin-A triggers proper and efficient functioning of skin cell molecules. These key molecules help speed up normal, healthy cell processes that are crucial to good skin. New, rapid cell growth is triggered, elastin and collagen (two of the most important proteins to healthy skin structure) generation is stimulated, and the vitality and strength of the skin cells is greatly improved. Retin-A also fights off the harmful enzymes that cause wrinkles and skin sagging. Aditionally, Retin-A combats the build up of oil, dirt and bacteria in the pores.

Uses in Skin Care

Dermatologists initially used Retin-A to treat mild to severe acne problems. Whiteheads and blackheads can be quickly reduced and destroyed with topical application of Retin-A. Retin-A has also been popular in anti-aging solutions. Its stimulation of elastin and collagen production help to reduce and prevent textural skin conditions like fine lines and wrinkles, since the proteins generated function as "smoothing" agents in the skin tissue. It is also used to treat rough, scaly skin. Because of Retin-A's ability to speed up new cell turn-over, it can help diminish the appearance of skin discoloration as well.

The Scar Condition

There are two separate skin issues to address with scar correction. First, there is the issue of skin discoloration. Skin discoloration is either in the form of hyperpigmention (dark colored scar) or hypopigmentation (light colored scar). The second aspect of scar correction is textural irregularity, which is either in the form of raised skin, or sunken, dimpled skin. Acne scars often present both skin discoloration and textural conditions.

Retin-A to Treat Acne Scars

Retin-A is effective for correcting textural conditions, since it restores and rejuvenates the skin cells, and promotes elastin and collagen regeneration. From the textural angle of acne scars, topical (and continuous) application of Retin-A is a safe bet for smoothing out acne scars. Since Retin-A also functions to improve abnormal cell production (usually caused by sun damage), and replace unwanted and unusable cells with new ones, dermatologists have begun using Retin-A to treat skin discoloration. Retin-A will work to even and smooth out both aspects of acne scars simultaneously.


Consult a dermatologist about using Retin-A to treat any skin condition. Its combination with other skin care products, and its side effect of extreme sun sensitivity in the skin require medical consideration.


Retin-A and Retinol are often confused and are not the same. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, and Retin-A is a conversion and alteration of this derivative. Retinal and retinyl palmitate are other names for Retinol on ingredient lists. Skin care products usually feature one or the other, and not both.

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