Which is Better, a Deep Chemical Peel or Resurfacing Laser Surgery for Acne Scars?

I need help with my face. I'm only 18 years old and have acne scars, some mild acne, and deep forehead wrinkles. I would like for my face to be smoothed out and have an even complexion. I also heard a deep chemical peel is great for getting rid of yellowness in facial skin, which I want to get rid of. I'm looking to get smooth, light skin. What procedure will be best for my skin problems?

Doctor Answers 8

Deep Chemical peeling and laser resurfacing for acne scars which is better?

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Depends on what your scars look like. Each mode should help but this will be on the conservative side. A multilayered approach which treats the deeper layer and superficial layers works the best. Co2 laser resurfacing plays a part in this by its work on the superficial end.

Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Most acne scarring needs several modalities to get the best results.

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Most acne scarring need either excisions, punch grafting, subcisions, filling or   dermabrasions first. Chemical peeling and laser treatments are less likely to obtain a good result if the scars aren't surgically treated first.  Sincerely,

David Hansen,MD

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Acne scar treamtent

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There is no "best" treatment for acne scars. Most patients will require at least 2 different modalities to treat acne scars. 

Robert S. Bader, MD, FAAD
Boca Raton Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Treating acne scars on the face

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Superficial scars from acne can be improved with chemical peels and laser resurfacing.  Deeper scars and depressed scars will need acne surgery.  I recommend the MelaPeel chemical peel to even out skin color and reduce imperfections.

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

Deep chemical peel or laser resurfacing for acne scars -- it's a toss-up

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  Personally, both modalities would be beneficial for the treatment of deep acne scars.  I generally advise my patients that the most important thing to consider when contemplating a resurfacing technique is the experience of the doctor whose help you are seeking.  Some doctors only do laser procedures and vice versa.  I think you can get equally good results with each.  But I do agree that additional modalities may be necessary to achieve optimal results such as fillers, subcisions, etc.

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

The Palette Approach to Acne Scars

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There is usually no one procedure that will fix acne scars. The scars need to be evaluated and characterized and then a plan of improvement made. I always remind patients with acne scars that we will never achieve pre-acne skin. We always approach but never achieve 100% change. Reasonable expectations are very important.

Barry Resnik, MD
Miami Dermatologist

Treating acne scars

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While chemical peels can be somewhat useful in treating "pitted" acne scars, the factionated CO2 lasers and Er:YAG lasers give more reproducable and better results with less chance for bad reactions to treat overall acne scaring. At times more than one laser with localized chemical peeling as well as surgical subcision and radiofrequency or focused ultrasound skin tightening can give the best results. It is therefore best to see a physician who is expert in all techniques and has a variety of lasers available to get the best results.

Mitchel P. Goldman, MD
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

An actual personal consultation is need to answer this question for you.

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Every case of acne scaring is a bit different.  What might work great for someone else may not be ideal for you.  Facial tightening brought about by chemical peeling or laser resurfacing can be helpful but not at all curative for acne scaring.  Ultimately neither of these modalities is perfect.  Generally, laser resurfacing requires less expertise on the part of the surgeon to perform well.  However, it also can be more prone to skin depigmentation and long term skin textural changes.  I have stopped performing dermabrasion because it leaves skin particles in the air of the operating room for extended periods of time posing a risk to health care workers.  However, it is my opinion that dermabrasion was one of the better modalities for addressing acne scaring.  One option you should consider is having the acne scars filled with Restylane or Perlane.  This can offer excellent benefits for the appearance of the skin without what is essentially a surgical procedure.  This can be combined with acne surgery that focuses on removing the worst scar pits or subcision of acne scars to release them.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 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.