Why Do Some People Experience Pore Enlargement After a Peel or Exfoliation?

In my research, it seems that a significant minority of people experience enlarged pores following chemical peels and sometimes exfoliation. What is the cause? Will the pores ever close up again? Is there a way to tell which skin types are prone to this unfortunate side-effect?

Doctor Answers 1

Generally, these treatments are neutral on pore size.

The bottom line here is that there is no treatment that can be guaranteed to make skin pores smaller.

So-called ablative treatments that remove some or all of the outer skin layers such as laser resurfacing, chemical peeling and microdermabrasion initially tend to make the pores look larger but this effect may have to do with lingering tissue swelling associated with the inflammation of healing. This type of change slowly resolves and is not permanent.

IPL, intense pulsed light (the treatment behind Fotofacial) is sometimes touted as improving pore size. Pictures tend to support this impression. However, research shows that pore size can be related to sebum (skin oils) production. Clinicians feel that a series of Fotofacial may reduce sebum production, so it is possible that this partially explains the impression of smaller pores.

Ultimately, it is likely once the skin is fully recovered from these various treatments, pore size will be about what it was before treatment. Pore size reduction is clearly a desirable result, so the public will continue to look for this outcome (and be concerned about enlarging pores) and some practitioners will continue to promise pore size improvements. However, most responsible providers do not claim to have a long term way to reliably produce this effect.

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