Chemical Peels for Acne Scars: 14 Facts You Need to Know


Acne is one of the most annoying skin conditions that people have to deal with. Apart from the constant fresh acne popping up, there are also acne scars that are left on the skin as souvenirs for acne you once had.

Fortunately, there are different methods that you can use to eliminate these scars. This article will look at the 14 main facts you need to know about chemical peels for acne scars, and how they work.

1. A Little Something About Chemical Peels for Acne Scars

smooth younger skinBefore jumping right into the details of chemical peels for acne scars, it is important to understand what a chemical peel is. A chemical peel for acne scars is a skin procedure in which chemicals are applied to the skin to remove the top layers of the surface. After the chemical peeling, there will be new growth of a smooth younger skin.

Chemical peels are used to eliminate skin discoloration, wrinkles and scars. Typically, the peels are mostly geared towards the face. Some people opt to do the chemical peel alone while others choose to throw in additional cosmetic products and procedures.

There are different depths when it comes to chemical peels. You can go for the light, medium or deep depending on the results you are looking for. Each of these types will use different chemical solutions. The deep chemical peels will have dramatic results but always take longer in recovery. The light peels might take longer without showing solid results, but the recovery is faster.

Chemical peels, like Obagi Blue Peel, can be administered by spa estheticians to strength of 30 percent. Doctors can administer the peels up to strength of 70 percent. The peels can be administered once for every two weeks. They are sometimes used to lessen or eliminate the appearance of acne scarring and this is what this article will focus on.

2. The Science Behind the Curtains: How Chemical Peels Work

The use of chemicals in stripping off dead skin cells is an effective method of accelerating the healing process of new and old acne scars. There are products that are available at the doctor’s office or the spa only. There are also products that you can use at home. Though this is the case, not all acne scars should be treated through chemical peeling by everyone.

Experts in the beauty industry have been using chemical peeling to accelerate the healing of the skin for many years. It is, however, likely that the ancient experts did not realize that they were using acid in the process. For example, Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian queen, loved to take milk baths. Milk has lactic acid in it, a substance found in most modern chemical peels. Some used apple cider vinegar which is still used in home chemical peels for acne scars.

If you have no idea of how the peels work, pay attention. A chemical peel will lift the dead skin from the skin’s surface. This will make more room for the migration of new skin cells from the layers beneath. The new skin cells will have a more even skin tone and a younger appearance. These cells are smaller which means that the skin will not be as tight as it previously was. The pores will, therefore, get more room to unclog the skin by removing sebum and dead skin cells.

exfoliatesUsing the chemicals will stimulate collagen production. This helps in filling the scars and making the skin flexible and strong. Here is a quick overview of how chemical peels work:

  • A chemical peel makes sure that the “glue” holding dead skin together on the surface is loose.
  • When dead skin is removed, this gives newer skin a chance to move up to the surface.
  • If you do not use exfoliates and scrubs, you can frequently use the homemade chemical peels.
  • Some chemical peels may not eliminate the brown spots without the addition of whitening agents. You will need to make sure you are using the right agent for your skin type for this.
  • You need to select the right chemical peel for your skin. This will be discussed in details in the text to come.

3. How to Prepare for the Chemical Peel Procedure

There are preparations that you need to follow for a successful chemical peel. They include the following:

  • Avoid Chemical Peeling Before the Procedure: Two weeks prior to the day of the chemical peel, you should avoid any other form of chemical peels for acne scars.
  • Avoid Microdermabrasion: Avoid microdermabrasion acne scar treatments since they work just like the chemical peels only that they use a handheld tool.
  • Limit Your Sun Exposure: It is important that you limit sun exposure for about 10 days before the chemical peeling procedure. You should also avoid tanning for two to three week. If you have to be in the sun, make sure your skin is protected. This can be through sunscreen combined with protective clothes.
  • Refrain from Waxing and Other Skin Treatments: As you prepare for the skin chemical peel, be gentle on your skin. This means refraining from processes such as waxing, chemical injections such as Botox and collagen for a period of one week prior to the procedure.
  • Use the Recommended Skin Lotion: Depending on the type of chemical peel you have selected, the doctor or esthetician will prescribe or recommend a kind of lotion. This lotion should be used for a period of two weeks to the chemical peeling procedure.
  • Quit SmokingBe Careful About the Use of Medicines: It is important to learn about medicine interactions especially if you are on medication. This is because some drugs can affect the results of the peel. Some drugs, like photosensitizing medications, can increase sunlight sensitivity which can cause skin damage prior to the treatment.
  • Quit Smoking: Other important preparations include quitting smoking. Talk to your doctor on the best plans to quit smoking. You should also take antibiotics 24 hours before treatment and learn about medical allergies that you might have. For people going through with the deep chemical peel, it’s important to organize a ride home, especially for those undergoing sedation.

4. The Basics of Different Types of Chemical Peels

There are three basic types of chemical peels for acne scars:

  • Superficial Chemical Peel: Also referred to as lunchtime peel, this is a process that uses mild acids to penetrate the outermost skin layer for a gentle exfoliation. This procedure can improve the appearance of the skin in cases of mild discoloration, rough skins and can refresh the face, hands, chest and neck.
  • Medium Peel: Acid is used in the penetration of the middle layers to get rid of the dead and damaged skin cells. This process is used for the improvement of wrinkles, fine lines, freckles and moderate discoloration of the skin. It can also be used in the treatment of some of the precancerous skin growths such as actinic keratosis.
  • Deep Peel: Stronger acids are used in deep penetration of the mid layers of the skin to flush out dead cells. This procedure will get rid of shallow scars, age spots and moderate lines. There is dramatic skin appearance improvement. This process is done on the face and is only performed once.

5. The Superficial Peel Types

As mentioned, chemical peels are categorized according to the depth of the skin the chemical reaches. This means the superficial chemical peels are the mildest. These peels are further grouped into three according to the chemical used.

  • acne scarred skinGlycolic Acid Peel: In this type, glycolic acid is the main chemical used. This is a popular acid in the treatment of acne scarred skin and wrinkles. This acid is a natural ingredient derived from sugar cane and is, therefore, a fruit acid. Because of the mild nature of the glycolic acid treatments, you might need more than one chemical peel for visible results.
  • Lactic Acid Peel: People with acne scars have some kind of skin obsession to look better. Lactic acid peel is made with lactic acid from the Alpha-Hydroxy acid family from milk. Since the acid naturally occurs in the body, peels using this acid tend to be safer especially for sensitive skin.
  • Salicylic acid peel: Salicylic acid, also called 2-hydroxybenzoic acid, was initially derived from the bark of willow trees. The acid used today is chemically synthesized from carbon dioxide, sodium phenolate and sulfuric acid. So, whether it is synthesized or extracted from willow trees, the acid has been used over the years as an anti-inflammatory agent and a skin care chemical.

6. Medium Peels: When You Want to Go One Step Further

Medium peels are used to penetrate the skin deeper than light chemicals used in the superficial peels. This procedure involves the application of a solution containing trichloro-acetic acid on the skin’s surface. The chemical solution is customized for the patient depending on a number of factors. This solution removes the outer layer of the skin which is damaged, dull, full of lines or acne scars. This is, therefore, one of the effective chemical peels for acne scars.

The reason the medium peels are popular is because they can be used for spot treatment. This means they can treat different spots on the body and they take just 15 minutes to complete. For great results you are required to complete a number of treatments spaced over a period of two to three months.

7. Deep Peels: Bringing Out the Big Guns for Your Last Resort

wrinklesThe deepest chemical peels for acne scars are done using phenol chemical. This chemical goes deeper than the medium peels. This chemical is aggressive to the skin and this explains why it is used in situations where the skin is severely damaged. This includes acne damage, scars, course wrinkles and precancerous skin growths. Since the treatment uses carbolic acid, it is not suitable for selected areas. This means it should be used on the entire face.

A phenol peel is extremely powerful, so only a single treatment is needed for results for years. After undergoing deep chemical peels, you are required to rest at home at least for a week. This is because there is pronounced swelling.

You should be aware that after the treatment your skin will be unable to tan. This means that you should take care of your skin and prevent it from prolonged exposure to the sun, especially during recovery. Phenol peel will, however, provide a dramatic skin rejuvenation that will make your skin stronger smooth and look younger.

8. What to Expect During a Chemical Peeling Session

Chemical peels provide a definite answer to people looking for solutions on how to get rid of acne scars. The chemical peeling usually takes less than an hour to complete. The procedure takes place in a number of sessions. The deeper chemical peels need one or two sessions for visible results.

The process starts with the cleaning of the skin comprehensively. The cleaning is followed by the application of the chemical solution. You can expect to feel some pricking or stinging sensation.

The comfort you feel will greatly depend on the chemical used in the procedure. If it is the basic chemical peeling, the stinging or pricking might be non-existent. When deep chemical peels are used, the stinging might be stronger and might actually feel like needle pricks. For this reason, there might be a use of topical anesthetics. There are cosmetologists who use cold compresses for minimization of the discomfort.

If you are dealing with acne scars, the deeper chemical peels are more suitable. In some cases, the deep peels are used to eliminate the dead cells. After this process, superficial lighter peels follow to even out the skin texture, and the hyperpigmentation.

9. Who is Not a Candidate for a Chemical Peel

If you are thinking about a chemical peel, it is important to understand that there are people who are not candidates for the peel. The peel is effective in getting rid of wrinkles, pimples and other facial blemishes, such as acne scarring but not for everyone. It is important to find out if the contradictions apply to you. They include, but are not limited to, the following:medications

  • Medication: There are some medications that should be discontinued at least five days prior to the chemical peel and should not be taken five days after. These include Ziana, Avage, Differin, Retin-A, EpiDuo, Tazorac, Renova and Tretinoin. If you cannot avoid these medications, you are not a candidate for the chemical peel.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women are not candidates for chemical peels. A lactating woman should also avoid chemical peels. Salicylic acid, a chemical used in the peeling procedure can harm the unborn baby. The chemical has also been found to cause pregnancy complications when taken orally. When applied on the skin, it might be absorbed and cause the same complications.
  • Active Herpes Lesions: Sometimes, herpes lesions can occur around the mouth. This means that the chemical peel is not a good idea during outbreaks. However, there are medications that can be used to treat the lesions. People with herpes might not be candidates for the peel because there might be infections after the procedure.

10. Reasons to Choose Chemical Peeling for Your Own Skin Problems

Chemical peels are done to solve a number of skin problems. The type of peel done will depend on the situation that you need to solve. You need to talk to your doctor before trying anything and you should even ask if it is okay to use some of the homemade chemical peels that can help you achieve a strong, flexible and younger looking skin. Chemical peels can help the following skin issues:

  • Pimples
  • Acne scars
  • Wrinkles
  • Fine lines

If you have scars from injury or accidents you might want to use products such as Skinception Dermefface FX7 which might help in reduction of scar appearance.

11. Results to Expect When Doing a Skin Peeling

costChemical peels are known to give effective results. The only drawback is that you might need to go for many sessions to see positive results, especially for the lighter chemical peels. For this reason, the chemical peel cost can run high. The good news is that the people who have opted for the chemical peels for acne scars have reported positive results. The only important point to note here is that if you are using the peel for acne scars, it is important to start with the lighter peels.

12. The Risks of Chemical Peels for Acne Scars and More

There are a number of risks attached to chemical peels. The deeper the peeling used, the more the risks.

The following are some of the risks that you should expect:

  • Redness: You can expect some redness on the skin after the peel. The redness can be extreme especially with deep peels. The redness can last a few weeks and in some cases, it might go as long as a few months.
  • Color Changes: There might be some changes in skin color. On the treated areas, the skin might be darker or lighter than the surrounding skin.
  • Scaling: There might be scaling and crusting.
  • AllergiesSwelling: Swelling has been reported especially around the eyes.
  • Scarring: You may end up with even more scarring, although lighter.
  • Allergies: Some people might be allergic to the chemicals that are used in the process
  • Infections: Individuals who have a herpes history can get infections, especially after the chemical peel.
  • Sensitivities: After the chemical peeling procedure, you might become sensitive to sunlight.
  • Special Concerns: In some rare cases, deep peels that use phenol can lead to some complication during the procedure. These might include liver kidney and heart failure.

13. What to Expect During and After the Procedure

It is a good idea to know what to expect during chemical peels for acne scars. This is just to prepare you mentally and physically.

During the Process

Here is what you should expect during the procedure:

  • Superficial Chemical Peel: You might apply the chemical on the skin using a cotton ball, gauze, sponge or brush. The treated skin will start to whiten. You might feel a stinging sensation, which can be shed off by washing off the chemical with water.
  • Medium Peel: The same procedure of application will be used, but after a few minutes, you might want to use an ice pack to keep the skin from stinging. There is no need for neutralizing though the stinging might be there for about 20 minutes.
  • Deep Peel: The procedure starts with intravenous fluids and a monitoring of the heart rate. The doctor will apply the phenol acid on the skin and it will start turning gray or white. To prevent the phenol exposure, the doctor will apply the chemical at intervals of 15 minutes in portions. This means that a full procedure might take about 90 minutes.

After the Chemical Peel Procedure: Follow Instructions and Be Patient

the doctorAfter chemical peels of any depth, it is important to follow instructions provided by the doctor. These will include cleaning, moisturizing and protection of the skin. You can expect the skin to be red and irritated after the procedure. Application of petroleum jelly will soothe the skin. After seven days, there will be new skin which might be lighter or darker than the surrounding skin. You should probably wait for a few weeks until the new skin grows to start using cosmetics.

14. What are the Limitations of Chemical Peels?

Some people get disappointed after paying for the procedure and not getting what they wanted. It is important that you understand what the procedure can do and what it cannot do to be on the safe side. If you want the chemical peel to eliminate wrinkles, keep in mind that it will get rid of the wrinkles on the surface but not those on the inner skin. They can just reduce them significantly especially when used alongside other products.

Chemical peels are not facelift substitutes. Though the quality of your skin will greatly improve, your face will not suddenly miraculously turn 25 years younger. Another limitation is the recovery time. It might take the skin up to three weeks or more to recover. It is also important that you know that the peel will not get rid of a tattoo.

There is a great deal of information about chemical peels ad you can make your own at home. Just make sure you follow the instructions properly. It is always important to talk to your doctor about chemical peels for acne scars. The doctor will help you with important information about allergies and contraindications.



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