Acne Scars - Laser or Chemical Peel?

I have developed scars since I punctured my acne. Now I am not able to get rid of them. Also my skin has gone technicolor. Could you please suggest whether laser treatment is more effective or chemical peel ? Also are the side effects of these severe or managable. I have my wedding very soon. Please help me.

Doctor Answers 5

Acne Scars and whether chemical peels or lasers are better

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Both do essentially the same thing and take down the top layers of the skin. You can really program the laser to do almost any level by turning the power up and down. Lasers are more predictable in some ways too. The only time I would consider chemical peels over lasers are with ice pick scars where I use a strong mixture of TCA for the CROSS method. I would suggest though a multilayered approach.

Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Laser Versus Chemical Peel For Acne Scars

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It helps to understand that acne scars are made of collagen fibers, which exist throughout your skin. The reason that the scar tissue looks and feels thick is that these particular fibers are arranged in a different configuration. 

Lasers work with these collagen structures by applying heat to the dermis, which is the skin layer below the surface. Your skin reacts to this as an injury. To repair itself, it will create normal collagen fibers. The general objective of laser treatments for acne scars is to to fade out the scar tissue by producing enough of these new collagen fibers.

Every laser is characterized by a specific wavelength. This makes the outcomes far more predictable compared to chemical peels. There is also a greater level of safety with lasers as well. However it is important that the practitioner is board certified and specializes in the application of lasers for acne scars. .

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Acne Scars - Laser or Chemical Peel?

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Several photographs would have been very helpful. In effect you are asking which of 2 VERY broad skin resurfacing modalities is most likely to smooth your acne - the depth and density of which we are not able to see nor to examine.

As when smoothing wood, the choice of which grit sandpaper would depend on the depth of the roughness of the wood. In skin, the deeper the acne pits, the deeper the resurfacing. Chemical peels lack the specificity of laser peels and unlike laser resurfacing are limited to only ablative removing. In otherwords, the chemical peel acid burns the wholre surface of the skin while a laser can do BOTH ablative as well as fractional in which deep wells are created to bring about skin shrinkage along with resurfacing. A laser resurfacing session which may need to be repeated and combined with undermining the acne pit and injecting it with pillers may be the best approach. You WILL need to allow yourself time to heal before your special day.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Acne Scars - Laser or Chemical Peel

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  You have already received good advice for your condition.  There are many treatments available so photos would be useful in helping you decide.  IMHO, there are many laser treatments and many types of chemical peels available to help you.  I believe that chemical peels are just as effective as the latest laser treatments (and considerably more cost effective!) so beware of all of the hype.  I believe that choosing a caring and experienced physician who is willing to work with you is more important than for you to try to choose the treatment modality on your own.

Lawrence Kass, MD
Saint Petersburg Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 140 reviews

Treatment of Acne Scars

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Pictures of your scars would have been helpful in answering your question.  That being said, there are several treatments for acne scars which include filling with a filler, punch excision, subcision, electrosurgery, chemical peeling and laser. The treatments utilized to improve acne scars usually depends on the type of acne scars and the type of skin.  In our practice, we achieve great results mostly with filling (using liquid injectable silicone), resurfacing with light electrosurgery, and occasionally punch excision.  I recommend you consult a board-certified dermatologist experienced in treating acne scars. 

Channing R. Barnett, MD
Boca Raton Dermatologist
4.1 out of 5 stars 8 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.