In Terms of Acne Scars, What Are the Major Differences Between Peels and Laser Resurfacing?

Because of the huge cost difference, I'm just curious if a chemical peel would be a cheaper alternative to helping with my acne scars? I have paid for 2 Pixel laser treatments so far with so-so results, then I look at these chemical peel results and the improvements seem to be just as dramatic.

Doctor Answers 4

Non-ablative Erbium laser resurfacing is better than chemical peel for treating acne scars

Chemical peels and ablative laser resurfacing are surface treatment.s, they are good for wrinkles and some pigment, but lack the deep collagen building that is required to plump acne scars.

In my experience non-ablative frasctional laser resurfacing is the only non surgcial treatment that I have seen that can plump acne sacrs.

Fillers work but are temporary.

Treating Acne Scars

There is a great book about classification of acne scars and their treatment for anyone that is interested (I had the opportunity to edit it).

Basically, there are a few different types of acne scars. The pitted ones and deep rolling ones are the most common. They can be treated with lasers but the laser needs to have the power to get to the bottom of the scar to have a meaningful difference (Fraxel or CO2 depending on the person).

Some of the scars can be filled with Perlane or Juvederm and they will fill out.

Chemical peels are probably not the best for this because they usually do not get deep enough but some types of deep peels can work.

Kenneth Beer, MD
Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Peels vs. laser for acne scars

Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" treatment for acne scars. There are different types and depths, sometimes pigment changes, and sometimes redness.

For most acne scars that are not red or pigmented, collagen must be remodeled. Only a limited amount of collagen remodeling takes place with superficial or medium depth chemical peels. These peels may shave down the shoulders of a scar, but dermal (subsurface) collagen remains the same.

For this reason, I typically treat patients who have acne scars with either full or fractional resurfacing (plasma or CO2) for the best results.

Acne scars are extremely difficult to treat, and I think as cosmetic physicians we are very concerned about setting an expectation for a patient's final result.

Sarah B. Sawyer, MD
Birmingham Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Pixel laser is a type of fractional ablative laser. For...

Pixel laser is a type of fractional ablative laser. For patients with acne, fractional lasers can be a good option but for some with more severe acne, traditional CO2 lasers, deep chemical peels (such as phenol peels), or dermabrasion may be a better alternative.

In addition, for some patients with deep 'ice pick' acne scars, additional procedures must be undertaken to elevate the scar and then smooth the skin.

If you are not getting the results you desire with the pixel laser, I would sit down with your physician and discuss other options.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 14 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.