chemical peel for acne

As the treated skin comes off, fresh new skin replaces it. This exfoliation caused by the acne skin peel eliminates or reduces the appearance of acne blemishes and scars. A cne chemical peel treatments provide benefits in addition to acne treatment — they can improve the skin's pigmentation and make the skin smoother.


An acne chemical peel may be appropriate when over-the-counter acne skin care products and prescription acne preparations such as Accutane® are not effective in reducing, controlling, or eliminating an individual's acne. Acne can be unsightly and uncomfortable, and severe acne can negatively affect a person's self-esteem. Cosmetic chemical peel treatments performed to address acne problems include several different types of acne chemical peels and acne scar peel procedures.

What Is an Acne Chemical Peel?

When topical acne medications do not provide satisfactory results, a clearer, healthy-looking complexion may be achieved with a chemical peel for acne or acne scars. An acne chemical peel is performed by applying a chemical solution to the skin. The solution causes the skin to blister and peel over a period of several days. As the treated skin comes off, fresh new skin replaces it. This exfoliation caused by the acne skin peel eliminates or reduces the appearance of acne blemishes and scars. A cne chemical peel treatments provide benefits in addition to acne treatment — they can improve the skin's pigmentation and make the skin smoother.

There are three general categories of chemical solutions used as acne chemical peel treatments: alphahydroxy acid (AHA) or glycolic acid peels, trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels, and phenol peels. AHA peels are the lightest and most gentle; TCA peels are a bit stronger; and phenol peels are the strongest. Each type of peel has advantages and disadvantages.

The best candidates for acne chemical peel treatments are people with superficial acne or acne scars. Individuals with severe or very active acne may not be good candidates for acne chemical peels. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not good candidates for a chemical peel to treat acne.

Chemical Peels for Deep Acne Scars

Acne scars are the result of the body’s inflammatory response to acne lesions. There are several different types of scar left by acne, and each affected person has a different and unique facial "topography." Acne scar treatment must therefore be implemented on a case-by-case basis. Although no single treatment is best for everyone, an acne chemical peel may provide effective treatment for some patients' deep acne scars. A deep TCA peel or a phenol chemical peel may be able to resurface the treated skin enough to eliminate the appearance of acne scars. With the TCA acne chemical peels , more than one treatment may be necessary. Another alternative for deep acne scars is laser skin resurfacing

What to Expect after an Acne Skin Peel

The extent of recovery necessary after an acne skin peel depends on the type of chemical peel used — AHA, TCA, or phenol. Patients commonly experience some temporary chemical peel-related side effects such as redness, dryness, and flaking or scaling after undergoing an AHA chemical peel for acne, but these side effects are usually mild and do not prevent patients from returning to regular daily activities after treatment. A TCA acne skin peel can have the same side effects of an AHA peel plus significant swelling (depending on the strength of TCA used). A mild pain medication may be necessary after a strong TCA chemical peel for acne scars, and the skin may form a temporary crust or scab on the treated area. The swelling and discomfort of a TCA chemical peel subside within about a week, and after about 10 days the skin is healed enough that the patient can return to normal activities. After a phenol acne scar peel, the face may become very swollen, even to the point that the eyes are temporarily swollen shut. For this reason up to two weeks of at-home recovery are typically needed after a phenol chemical peel.