Chemical Peel for Acne Scars: An Expert Guide

If you’re someone who has struggled with acne in the past, you’re likely to have some unwanted reminders left behind in the form of scarring. While there are various methods to treat acne scars, chemical peels have become a popular choice amongst many individuals. A chemical peel, as the name suggests, uses a chemical solution to exfoliate the skin and remove the damaged layers. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about chemical peel for acne scars.

What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a cosmetic treatment that involves applying a chemical solution to the skin to remove damaged or dead skin cells and promote new skin growth. This process can help improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, sun damage, and acne scars. The chemical solution used in the peel can be adjusted depending on the desired level of exfoliation and the specific skin concerns addressed.

When it comes to treating acne scars, chemical peels are classified into three categories – superficial, medium, and deep. Superficial peels target the outermost layer of the skin, while medium and deep peels penetrate deeper layers of the skin. The strength of the chemical solution used in the peel increases with each category.

How Does a Chemical Peel Help with Acne Scars?

Acne scars occur when the inflammation caused by acne damages the collagen in the skin. Collagen is an essential protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity. When collagen breaks down, the skin may appear uneven, rough, or scarred.

Chemical peels work by removing the damaged layers of skin, stimulating collagen production, and promoting cell turnover. As the new skin grows, it appears smoother and more even. Chemical peels can improve the texture and tone of the skin, reduce the appearance of acne scars, and leave the skin looking brighter and refreshed. A 2020 study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology concluded that chemical peels are an effective treatment for acne scars. The study found that a series of three chemical peels significantly improved the appearance of acne scars in 80% of participants.

How to Use Chemical Peel at home?

Whether or not you should use a chemical peel for acne scars at home depends on a number of factors, including the severity of your scars, your skin type, and your comfort level with DIY treatments.

If you have mild to moderate acne scars and are comfortable using a chemical peel at home, there is no reason why you can’t do so. The best type of chemical peel to use at home is one that is designed for home use and that contains a low concentration of acids. At-home chemical peels are typically less concentrated than professional chemical peels, but they can still be effective.

You need to follow the instructions carefully and to do a patch test on a small area of your skin before using a chemical peel on your entire face. This will help you to determine if you have any sensitivity to the peel. To ensure your safety, it’s important to purchase these peels from reputable sources rather than unfamiliar online sources, as some unverified suppliers have been known to offer questionable products.

Best chemical peels for acne scars at home include AHA (Alpha hydroxy acids) and BHA (Beta hydroxy acid). AHAs are gentle acids that are effective at exfoliating the skin and removing dead skin cells, which can help improve the appearance of acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. Some common AHAs used in chemical peels include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid. While BHAs are oil-soluble acids that are effective at exfoliating the skin and removing dead skin cells from the pores, making them a good choice for people with oily skin or acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid is the most common BHA used in chemical peels.

To use a chemical peel for acne scars at home, follow these steps:

  • Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser and pat it dry. Avoid using any harsh cleansers or exfoliants, as this can irritate your skin.
  • Apply the chemical peel to your skin using a cotton ball or cotton pad. Be careful to avoid the eye area.
  • Leave the peel on for the amount of time specified in the instructions. This will typically range from 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the strength of the peel.
  • Rinse the peel off with cool water and neutral the peel according to the instructions provided with the product or by your dermatologist
  • Apply a moisturizer to your skin (no retinoid or acids).
  • Depending on the severity of your acne scars, you may require multiple peel sessions spaced several weeks apart to achieve the desired results.

Pros and cons of Chemical Peel for Acne Scars

Pros

  • Chemical peels are an effective treatment option for reducing the appearance of acne scars.
  • They can improve the texture and tone of the skin, leaving it looking brighter and refreshed.
  • Chemical peels are a non-invasive treatment option that requires little to no downtime.
  • They can be customized based on the specific needs and concerns of each individual.

Cons

  • Chemical peels may cause redness, irritation, or sensitivity to the skin.
  • They may not be suitable for individuals with certain skin conditions or sensitivities.
  • Chemical peels should only be performed by a licensed and experienced skincare professional.
  • They may require multiple treatments to achieve desired results.

Chemical Peel vs Other acne scars Treatments

While chemical peels are an effective treatment option for acne scars, they are not the only option available. Let’s take a look at how chemical peels compare to other treatments:

Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is a mechanical exfoliation procedure that uses a rotating abrasive device to remove the top layers of skin. It is an effective treatment for moderate to severe acne scars, but it can also be painful and have a long recovery time.

Microneedling

Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure that uses tiny needles to create punctures in the skin. This stimulates collagen production and can help to improve the appearance of acne scars. Microneedling is less painful than dermabrasion and has a shorter recovery time, but it may require multiple treatments to achieve the desired results.

Laser Resurfacing

Laser resurfacing is a cosmetic procedure that uses a laser to remove the damaged layers of skin and stimulate collagen production. Laser resurfacing can be an effective treatment for acne scars, but it can also be more expensive and may require a longer recovery time than chemical peels.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are injectable treatments that can help improve the appearance of acne scars by filling in the indentations left behind. While dermal fillers provide immediate results, they are temporary and may need to be repeated regularly.

PREPARATION AND AFTERCARE FOR CHEMICAL PEEL

Preparation

  • Stop using any products that contain retinol, glycolic acid, or other exfoliants for at least one week before your peel. These products can make your skin more sensitive to the peel.
  • Discontinue the use of any antibiotics or other medications that may interact with the peel. Be sure to talk to your dermatologist about all of the medications you are taking before your peel.
  • Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser and pat it dry on the day of your peel. Avoid using any harsh cleansers or exfoliants.

Aftercare 

  • Apply a moisturizer to your face two to three times a day. Choose a moisturizer that is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.
  • Avoid sun exposure for at least two weeks after your peel. This will help to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation.
  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your face every day.
  • Avoid touching or picking at your peeling skin. This can lead to infection.
  • If you experience any redness, swelling, or discomfort, contact your dermatologist immediately

FAQs 

  1. Are chemical peels painful? Most individuals do not experience pain during the chemical peel process, though some may experience mild discomfort or tingling sensations.
  2. How long do the results of a chemical peel last? The results of a chemical peel can vary depending on the strength of the solution used and the individual’s specific skin concerns. Superficial peels may provide temporary results that last several weeks, while deeper peels may provide longer-lasting results.
  3. How long does it take to recover from a chemical peel? Recovery times can vary depending on the strength of the chemical solution used. Superficial peels may require little to no downtime, while deeper peels may require several days or weeks of recovery time.
  4. Who is a good candidate for a chemical peel for acne scars? Individuals with mild to moderate acne scars and generally healthy skin are good candidates for chemical peel treatments. It’s essential to consult with a skincare professional to determine if chemical peels are a suitable treatment option.

FINAL TAKEAWAY

Chemical peels have become a popular treatment option for individuals looking to reduce the appearance of acne scars. With various types of chemical peels available, each with its own unique benefits and considerations, it’s essential to work with a licensed and experienced skincare professional to determine the best treatment plan for you. While chemical peels may not be suitable for everyone, they can provide impressive results when performed correctly.If you’re considering a chemical peel for acne scars, it’s essential to do your research and understand the risks and benefits involved. With proper preparation and aftercare, chemical peels can improve the appearance of acne scars and leave your skin looking healthier and refreshed.