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Chemical Peel for Acne Scars

I've got scars due to pimples but not too much. I want permanent solution to get rid of the scars. Is chemical peel a permanent solution? If not, what are treatments are available without any side effects?

Doctor Answers (12)

Acne Scars


Chemical peels are good treatments for acne scarring. Peels such as salicylic acid and TCA can help clear existing acne and lighten any hyperpigmentation due to scarring. Side effects are minimal and temporary. Things that people normally experience after a peel are redness, tightness, and sloughing of the skin. Peeling of the skin usually lasts for 2-5 days, depending on the person and the depth of the peel.

Additionally, treating your skin with a pre- and post-peel home care regimen will enhance your results from the peel. Multiple peels may be needed and not all peels are suitable for all skin types. It is best to be evaluated by your skincare professional to better assess your needs and goals.

San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Peels for acne scars

Peels can help with scars if they're not too severe. Pockmarks can be corrected with fillers (temporary) and laser technologies can also help remodel the skin. You should see a board certified plastic surgeon or dermatolgist for an assessment to see what would work for you, because there are many, many options available.

Michael Constantin Gartner, DO
Paramus Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Chemical peel for acne scars

Chemical peels would work for you if the scars are mild and the results are permanent. However, you can also consider micro needing, which can work on deeper pitted scars.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

... always find a treatment for your type of acne scars.

If you have deep ice pick scars, or box car scarring, than chemical peeling can help. Certainly a medium depth peel can also help collagen induction and help with other types of acne scars. 

The solution lies in the type of scars you have as well as the skin type..... if you have rolling and atrophic scars, a peel may not be in your best interest, CO2 fractional lasers, combined with Juvederm or dermal fillers maybe better. 

Hope this helps 

Dr Davin S Lim
Laser and cosmetic Dermatologist

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Fixing Acne Scars


Sandstone’s Fractional CO2 laser is considered the gold standard for reducing the appearance of scar tissue. Fractionation of the CO2 laser allows us to target deeper portions of the dermis, while protecting small bridges of unaffected tissue that are left intact. These islands make the healing process much faster, the procedure safer, and you back to work with rejuvenated skin quickly. Each pulse vaporizes a column of tissue that heats collagen deeply. This heat stimulates collagen growth, replacing worn older scar tissue..

Bobby Buka, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Fraxel For Acne Scars

Thank you for your question. At my practice, I have gotten excellent results for scarring with Fraxel. This treatment eliminates irregular skin discoloration, and stimulates new collagen production, tightening the skin without prolonged recovery. After a series of 2 to 4 Fraxel treatments, the cumulative cosmetic improvement is near more aggressive lasers, but unlike more aggressive lasers, redness and swelling eliminated within 2 to 4 days after each treatment. Fraxel is outstanding for fine wrinkles, mild skin laxity, irregular pigmentation, acne scars, surgical scars, enlarged pores, stretch marks, age spots and Rosacea. It can be used safely on the face, neck, hands, arms, and chest.

Daniel Shapiro, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 102 reviews

Chemical Peel is Good for Acne Scars


There are various types of peels that can help with acne scarring. TCA peel will treat acne, hyperpigmentation , fine lines and wrinkles, while leaving skin hydrated. Salicylic acid will exfoliate, smooth skin surface texture, clear blocked pores and reduce the incidence of breakouts. You can try microdermabrasion together with a chemical peel. It will slough away the top layers of the skin which will minimize the pores and reduce small scale scarring. At the same time it will help with the skin cells turnover, control oil and soften lines. People  with more "ice pick" scars may need additional treatments to include CO2 resurfacing and/or surgical excision.



Edward E. Dickerson, IV, MD
Fayetteville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Chemical peels for acne scars


Chemical peels are a great option for active acne, to clear up the skin and to prevent further scarring from occurring.  However, if you have acne scarring, the chemical peels may help with pigmentation (assuming you are correctly using an appropriate SPF and a hat, of course) caused by acne, but the scars will probably be softened, at best.  The best chance you have of smoothing out acne scars would be doing a combination of therapies such as chemical peels to keep you clear, derma rolling and lasers...  You can have some success with smoothing out your skin to a satsifactory level if you undergo that type of aggressive tx regimen.  It is important to remember that the scars will probably never fully disappear and there will be maintenance in the future to consider.

Joseph Serota, MD
Aurora Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Chemical Peels Work Best For Acne and Blotchy Discolorations


In-office chemicals peels, especially salicylic acid peels or glycolic acid peels in sufficiently high concentrations work well to supplement at-home acne treatments. They help to "dry up" active pimples and pustules and to unclog unsightly blackheads and whiteheads. And by helping to clean out pores of accumulated cellular debris, oils. and bacteria, they may interrupt the development of acne blemishes and give rise to tighter-looking pores. Much the same can be said of Fraxel and other superficial laser procedures, although chemical peeling is less expensive, has more than a century of a safety record, and remains the gold standard.

When acne heals, brownish skin stains typical replace them. Doctors call this postinflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH. PIH may persist for many weeks and sometimes months and pose a good deal of psychologic distress. Chemical peels performed in the office, along with topical bleaching agents used at home, can often help to speed the resolution of these troubling spots.

However, apart from clearing blemishes, lightening brown spots, and adding a general luster and glow to the skin, chemical peels are not terribly effective, if at all, in treating true acne scars. Deep chemical peels and ablative laser treatments for acne scars have their proponents, but each of these is quite aggressive, entails prolonged downtimes, and poses risk of permanent scarring and loss of pigmentation.

For permanently improving acne scars, there are a number of different treatments (depending upon the precise nature and location of the scars), including dermaspacing, medical microchanneling, fillers, and mesotherapy. In properly chosen candidates, these techniques, alone or in combination, can yield very gratifying results.

Nelson Lee Novick, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Acne scars


While deeper chemical peel resurfacing can be beneficial for acne scars, certain peel solutions such as TCA can be associated with pigmentary problems in ethnic skin. Certain lasers such as the fractionated CO2 lasers can be safe and effective even in ethnic skin but with any of the deeper resurfacing procedures, pigmentary issues - particularly darkening of the skin (which usually resolves with time) can occur. Certain types of depressed acne scars also respond well to subcision which is a procedure that involves use of an anesthetic and saline solution injections to stimulate collagen. Subcision predictably causes bruising which usually resolves by 1-2 weeks. When you elect to undergo any procedure, it is important for you to ask about side effects and potential complications.

Good luck.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.