Chemical Peel for Dark Skin?

I am an African American, and I'm wondering, would Chemical Peel help with my dark facial scars?

Doctor Answers 3

Most definitely if it is Discolorations rather than true scars.

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

It really depends on whether you have true scars or just discolorations. True scars are firm bumps or atrophic indentations. There has to be a texture change to be called a scar. Discolorations on the other hand are just that. Color changes of the skin. Discolorations can be treated with a series of light chemical peels and bleaching creams. The cost of the light peels are roughly $250-350 each and are done about every 2-3 weeks. Black patients do very well with this combination of light peels and prescription bleaching creams. Lasers are more risky and not advisable since the peels are more consistent and reproducible.

Good Luck,

David Hansen, MD

Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Ethnic Skin and Chemical Peels

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

There are countless types of chemical peels that are commonly used by physicians. The peels generally contain a specific acid (examples include glycolic acid, retinoic acid, salicylic acid, trichloroacetic acid TCA) that acts to coagulate or destroy the superficial layers of skin.

Once performed, the peels can effect specific changes in the skin, including reduction of pigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and overal skin elasticity.

The type of peel depends on the strength of the acid used and the concentration of the applied acid. For example, a 15% glycolic acid peel is much less potent than a 15% TCA peel.

In patients with darker skin complexion, chemical peels can be very useful. However, patients should be cautioned about the higher risk of skin pigmentation. These patients should be prescribed pre and postprocedural pigmentation programs to control the incidence and severity of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Always perform these procedures with an experienced physician who is familiar with all types of chemical peels and the specific requirements of darker skin types.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Generally, yes.

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Chemical peels (usually a series of peels) that exfoliate the skin can be used to lighten dark spots. There is a distinction though between true scars and dark spots.

I would caution you that in individuals with darker skin, the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (i.e. darkening of the skin with any procedure) is greater. When I administer chemical peels for individuals with darker skin, I might start with a single coat of a light chemical peeling agent, e.g. sal acid. A test spot can also be done to see whether darker pigmentation occurs as a result of the application of the peeling agent.

There are certainly other topical agents that can help with dark spots and scarring either alone or in conjunction with peels, including hydroquinone, tretinoin cream (retin-a), among others.

I would consult with a doctor with considerable experience not only with administering chemical peels but dealing with chemical peel complications. Hope that helps.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist

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.