Chemical Peel for Acne Scars
Learn more about treatment options for acne scars
Chemical peels improve the appearance of acne scars by using a chemical solution to remove the outer layer of old skin. The new skin that replaces it is usually smoother and less scarred in appearance.
| Before and after Tazarotene, hydroquinone and salicylic acid chemical peels for treatment of acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Photo courtesy by Pearl E. Grime, MD - Los Angeles, California
Chemical peels are a good choice for fair-skinned individuals.
Temporary or permanent change in skin color, particularly for women on birth control pills who subsequently become pregnant or have a history of brownish facial discoloration.ScarringReactivation of cold sores.
The average cost for chemical peel is several hundred dollars, determined by the extent of treatment. Since most insurance companies consider chemical peels a cosmetic procedure, the treatment usually isn't covered.
Preparing for the procedure
Before the procedure, the patient and ASDS dermatologist should discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. Patients should also:
- Discuss their skin condition and treatment goals in order to determine the depth of chemical peel.
- Reveal any history of scarring, persistent cold sores or facial X-rays.
- Avoid any medications or supplements that an affect blood clotting – such as aspirin, ibuprofen or vitamin E – for 10 days before surgery.
- Avoid using medications such as Retin-A, Renova or glycolic acid.
- Determine in advance whether they will need someone to drive them home following the procedure.
What to expect after the procedure
Afterward, patients experience a reaction similar to sunburn in the treatment area. Patients may experience:
- Redness, followed by scaling within three to seven days.
- Blisters that will crust, turn brown and peel off within seven to 14 days following medium and deep peels.
- Bandages over the treated areas for several days.
Chemical peel patients should avoid the sun for several months following a procedure. Light peels may be repeated in one- to four-week intervals. Medium-depth peels may be repeated every six to 12 months.
Finding a doctor
Visit "Find a dermatologic surgeon
" and choose "Chemical Peels" from the dropdown menu. In 2013, ASDS dermatologists performed nearly 517,000 chemical peels, up from 414,000 in 2012. Because ASDS dermatologists are trained in a variety of the best and latest techniques, they are the most qualified to evaluate and select the best treatment choice based on the individual patient's condition.