Chemical Peels for Acne & Acne Scars: Do They Work?

Whether patients are struggling to get acne under control or they’re left with scars from past acne, at WIFH we have many options to treat acne and its after effects.

Many people ask, will chemical peels help with acne and acne scars?

Yes, Chemical Peels Help Acne & Acne Scars!

Chemical peels can help to address acne, both in getting it under control and by cleaning up what acne leaves behind, like darkened pigmentation, scars, large pores, etc. There are also various types of peels that can help with acne and acne scars1.

Three Star Ingredients for Treating Acne

Lactic acid, salicylic acid and glycolic acid are common ingredients in chemical peels that are effective in treating acne as well as cleaning up its damage. Most peels have a combination of these acids or use all three.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a natural acid derived from fruits, vegetables, and other plants. It’s often used in anti-aging products2. It gently exfoliates but also helps to hydrate, replenishing the natural barrier of lipids in the outer layers of skin. Lactic acid also helps lighten and brighten the skin to help with discoloration3.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is great for exfoliating. Often glycolic acid and salicylic acid are combined in peels, because the glycolic acid exfoliates the surface while the salicylic acid penetrates down into the pore4. Glycolic acid helps to keep the surface of the skin free of dead skin, allowing the pores to breathe and helping to prevent bacteria from getting trapped and creating an acne eruption.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid penetrates deeper than lactic acid and glycolic acids5. The salicylic acid can penetrate down into the pores to loosen and breakdown the excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria inside each pore and help clean out the bacteria that causes acne.

Try Superficial and Medium-Depth Peels to Treat Acne

Superficial and medium depth peels work well for acne6. Superficial peels offer exfoliation without the excessive peeling associated with medium-depth peels. It can take more of these to get the acne under control, but patients can do them more frequently than medium-depth peels, so they can get the job done7.

One of the more popular medium-depth peels is the VI Peel. We recommend the VI Peel Precision Plus for acne and acne scarring.

How Many Peels Are Needed?

The number of peels a patient will need to get for the best results will vary based on the severity of acne, acne scars, and pigmentation left by the acne. For patients using the VI peel, typically 3 peels spaced every 4 weeks is a really good start. After completing 3 peels, patients can see how the skin looks and determine if more peels will be necessary.

Maintain Healthy Skin

Peels are amazing and will certainly help treat acne and acne scarring, but patients will also need to couple treatments with products designed to nourish the skin and keep it healthy between peels. It’s not enough just to do treatments. Patients need good corrective products to help keep the process going at home, because once acne is under control they’ll certainly want to avoid allowing acne problems to return.

Call or visit WIFH today for a free consultation and skin assessment to find out what chemical peel and treatment plan is right to get rid of acne and acne scarring.

For more information about chemical peels at WIFH, visit the chemical peels page of our website.

1. Kontochristopoulos, G (2017). Chemical peels in active acne and acne scars. Clinical Dermatology. 207: 25 (2): Pages 179-182. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28274356
2. Sharquie, KE (2006). Lactic acid chemical peels as a new therapeutic modality in melasma in comparison to Jessner’s solution chemical peels. Dermatologi Surgery. 2006; 32(12): Pages 1429-1436. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17199649
3. Prestes, PS (2013). Randomized clinical efficacy of superficial peeling with 85% lactic acid versus 70% glycolic acid. Brazilian Annals of Dermatology. 2013; 88(6): Pages 900-905. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24474097
4. In Jae, J (2018). Comparative study of buffered 50% glycolic acid (pH 3.0) + 0.5% salicylic acid solution vs Jessner’s solution in patients with acne vulgaris. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2018; 17(5): Pages 797-801 . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29164826
5. Dayal, S (2017). Jessner’s solution vs. 30% salicylic acid peels: a comparative study of the efficacy and safety in mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2017; 16(1): Pages 43-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27557589
6. Castillo, DE (2018). Chemical peels in the treatment of acne: patient selection and perspectives. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. 2018; 11: Pages 365-372. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30038512
7. Lee, KC (2019). Basic chemical peeling: Superficial and medium-depth peels. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2019; 81(2): Pages 313-324. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30550830

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