The American Academy of Dermatology reports that up to 50 million Americans each year are affected by acne, making it the most common skin condition in the US. Many of these individuals, unfortunately, may develop acne scars. Acne scars can often be even more difficult to manage than a breakout, and effectively diminishing their appearance often requires cosmetic treatment from a medical professional. There are a host of non-invasive acne scar treatment options available in the private dermatology office of Dr. Michele Green, located in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, including chemical peels, microneedling, subcision with dermal fillers, and laser resurfacing, among others.
A chemical peel is a non-invasive cosmetic treatment that entails the application of a chemical solution to the surface of the skin, designed to accelerate the rate of skin cell renewal. This process removes dead skin cells, unclogs the pores, and stimulates the production of new collagen, which can help address a wide range of skin issues including skin discoloration, dark spots, fine lines, dullness, acne breakouts, and acne scars. There are different types of chemical peels that may be selected for your rejuvenation treatment depending on your skin type, skin tone, and the specific skin concerns that are being targeted. Consulting with a board-certified dermatologist is the best way to understand which type of chemical peel is best suited to your needs and how many treatment sessions you may need to achieve your optimal results.
Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned cosmetic dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience providing her patients from around the world with the best non-invasive treatment options available, including chemical peels. Dr. Green embraces a ‘less is more’ philosophy and takes a holistic approach to facial rejuvenation treatment, providing her patients with ideal cosmetic results that are natural-looking and long-lasting. She is consistently voted as one of the best physicians in NYC by Castle Connolly, the New York Times, New York Magazine, and Super Doctors for her dedication to her patients and practice. When you consult with Dr. Green for your chemical peel treatment for acne scars, she will work with you to develop a treatment approach that is customized to meet your unique needs and goals.
What causes acne scars?
Acne scars develop as a result of the inflammation associated with acne lesions causing irreparable damage to the underlying skin tissue. Inflammatory acne, such as cysts and nodules, are the most likely types of lesions to cause acne scars. The type of scarring that a patient experiences depends on the response of the skin during the healing process. Atrophic scars, which are characterized by indents in the skin, occur if the body is unable to produce a sufficient amount of collagen to repair the damage. Ice pick scars, Boxcar scars, and Rolling scars are the three types of atrophic acne scars. Ice pick scars are deep, narrow scars that may resemble enlarged pores. The term “ice pick” scar comes from the fact that the skin appears as if it has been pierced by a sharp tool, like an ice pick. Boxcar scars are round or oval-shaped in appearance and have deep vertical sides. Rolling Scars are shallow indents without well-defined borders that make the surface of the skin appear wavy.
Hypertrophic scars appear as raised bumps on the skin that occur when there is an excess of new collagen production during the healing process. Chemical peels are best used to treat atrophic scars and hyperpigmentation that can occur after an acne breakout, also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. To successfully eliminate the appearance of acne scars, Dr. Green will customize your treatment approach so that it is appropriate for the types of scars that you have.
What is it like to get a chemical peel treatment?
The first step in having a chemical peel treatment is consulting with a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green. Dr. Green will assess the condition of your skin and help you determine the unique combination of treatments best suited to addressing your concerns and achieving your goals. If you are deemed a good candidate for chemical peel treatment, your procedure may be performed on the same day as your consultation or scheduled for a later date, depending on preference and time allowance.
Before your chemical peel treatment, your skin will be cleansed of all makeup, sunscreen, and oils. Patients are advised not to use exfoliating products, including Retinols and Retin-A, for 24 hours before the chemical peel. During the peel, a chemical solution is applied to the skin’s surface that removes the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. The solution is left on the skin for 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the strength of the acid peel. The exfoliation process encourages healthy new skin cells to generate more quickly. As the dull, discolored, dead skin cells are sloughed off, patients observe a more radiant complexion and reduction of acne and acne scars? Ultimately, patients enjoy new skin that is brighter, healthier, and smoother.
In addition to treating acne and acne scars, chemical peels are commonly used to treat fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation that are caused by sun damage over time. Actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous skin lesions caused by excessive sun exposure which can also be treated with chemical peels. Chemical peels can also help improve discoloration associated with sunspots, age spots, and melasma. Dr. Green is an expert in the field of cosmetic dermatology with over two and a half decades of experience providing chemical peels to some of the most discerning men and women from around the world, and will work with you to develop a customized chemical peel treatment plan that is best suited to your needs and goals.
How do I select the best chemical peel for my skin type?
At her private dermatology office, located in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, Dr. Green offers a range of chemical peels. The type of chemical peel that is best for you will be dependent on your skin type, skin tone, the skin concern that you would like to address, and the amount of downtime that your schedule allows. A superficial peel is effective for changes to the superficial layers of the skin, including hyperpigmentation and skin texture. Dr. Green may advise a deeper chemical peel when addressing deeper lines and wrinkles, especially for problem areas around the eyes (periocular) and mouth (perioral wrinkles). When you consult with Dr. Green, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss with her in-depth regarding your specific skin concerns and overall aesthetic goals. She will help you determine which type of chemical peel is best for your rejuvenation treatment plan based upon your unique needs and goals.
What Chemical Peel is best for acne scars and acne?
In general, the best superficial chemical peels for acne consist of glycolic acid or light trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid at 30-50%, are ideal for superficial chemical peels for acne and acne scars. These acids help to unclog the pores, and through the process of exfoliation, remove the dead skin cells. Through this peeling process, the pimples and acne breakouts are unclogged and the acne is under much better control. In terms of acne scars and hyperpigmentation, when the new skin forms after the peel, the blemishes are lighter and the discoloration improved. Dr. Green often combines chemical peels with the home use of her MGSkinLabs lines of skin-care products, containing hydroquinones, Retin-a, tretinoin and Vitamin C serum, to further improve your acne and acne scars. In addition, salicylic acid has been used for decades and remains a good peeling agent for patients with acne.
You will see improvement in your skin’s complexion even after one chemical peel. The best results for acne and acne scars is a series to 3 to 6 chemical peels, depending on the degree of acne, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation. Proper SPF protection should be used throughout this chemical peel process, to avoid a sunburn or further sun damage. As a result of the chemical peel, your new skin will be even-toned and radiant.
Best Medium depth chemical peels
Medium depth peels are usually done using done with an acid solution containing a 20% trichloroacetic acid (TCA) solution, or higher. The higher the strength of acid used, the more care needs to be used in proper patient selection. Darker skin patients run the risk of hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation from higher strength TCA peels, when strong acid solutions are used. Dr Green will help you decide which percentage and type of acid would be best for your skin type.
A common medium strength chemical peel is a Jessner peel. A Jessner peel has been traditionally been a combination of Lactic acid, salicylic acid, and resorcinol in a 95 percent ethanol solution. There are some health concerns about the resorcinol, since it is a phenol derivative, and most Jessner’s peel now being replacing resorcinol with TCA. This type of chemical peel is called a modified Jessner’s peel. This medium strength chemical peel involves removing skin cells not just from the top layer of the skin, but also the top layer of the dermis. Jessner’s peels have been around for over one-hundred years. While they are safe and effective, the specific radio of alpha and beta-hydroxyacids needs to be maintained with a pH of the overall solution typically around 1.9. It is essential to control the pH of the acid solution, since this controls any unwanted side effects from the chemical peel. Retinols and other AHAs, such as phytic, azelaic, glycolic, and mandelic acids, can be used to modify the Jessner’s formulation for added benefits.
The benefits of a medium strength chemical peel are that while removing the skin cells, it causes new skin to heal and removes more hyperpigmentation for skin lightening, acne scarring, and wrinkles. The result is smoother, softer, tighter, and more even skin tone and texture. Again, Dr. Green will help you decide which type of chemical peel would be best for you based on your skin type and the amount of downtime needed.
Deep chemical peels
These deep peels are rarely performed because of the long healing time required and the higher risk of hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation to the skin. Deep peels remove skin cells from the epidermis and from the mid to lower dermal layer. Deep peels are recommended if you have deep lines and wrinkles, deep scars, and extensive sun damage. Most patients prefer a series of light or medium strength peels, which have a cumulative effect over time, over such a strong chemical peel.
A deep peel can only performed once. Deep chemical peels cannot be done on patients with darker skin tones, since this can damage the skin. There can often be a significant contrast in coloration, or demarcation, after a deep peel in the area peeled compared to the untreated skin. Deep chemical peels are not needed to treat moderate acne. Since deep chemical peels are painful, they require anesthesia or pain management both before and after the procedure. You will leave the office with your face bandaged after the procedure.
The Best Chemical peel for all skin types
Cosmelan peels are an amazing depigmentation peel which treats dark marks from acne, acne scars, melasma, and overall skin hyperpigmentation. Many patients are unhappy after the acne marks and dark discolorations which remain after their acne breakouts heal. Cosmelan peels can be used in patients of all skin types, no matter what the skin tone. In this two part chemical peel, which is performed in the office of Dr. Michele Green, the cosmelan peel is applied on the patient’s skin with strict instructions for at home removal and corresponding at-home skincare products. Strict sun avoidance with a high SPF is needed after this procedure.
TCA, or trichloroacetic acid, Cross is a chemical treatment that is best used on atrophic ice pick scars and works by stimulating the production of new collagen and elastin. The TCA Cross treatment works by depositing a small amount of concentrated TCA directly into the indentations on the skin, as opposed to a TCA peel, which is used to treat the full face. When placed directly into the deep scars, the TCA Cross triggers the body’s natural healing process, which leads to the production of collagen and elastin. These proteins help the body to produce new skin cells that fill in the indentations in the skin and make the skin appear lighter and brighter. The treatment is not suitable for patients with type 3 skin or darker, as there is a risk of hyperpigmentation. Dr. Green typically recommends between 3 and 5 treatments for optimal results spaced 6-8 weeks apart. The production of new collagen can begin as little as four weeks following the treatment with ongoing improvements to the surface of the skin for as long as 4 months following each procedure.
Recovery time and expected results
A superficial peel, such as one to improve moderate acne, or acne scars requires very little recovery time with some dryness or flaking for just a few days. Recovery from a medium depth peel generally takes about one week. After a deep chemical peel, several weeks or more must be allowed for a complete recovery.
A light to medium depth chemical peel, including those used to treat acne and acne scars, has no discomfort. During the peel patients may feel a slight stinging sensation which lasts a few minutes. A deep chemical peel, on the other hand, may require significant pain medication both during and after the treatment.
How do I take care of my skin after a chemical peel?
Dr. Green will review the best skin care products to use at home after your chemical peel. It is very important to continue moisturizing your skin after your chemical peel with rich moisturizers that do you contain any irritating ingredients. Daily moisturizers counteract the irritation or peeling that can occur from the chemical peel. A gentle skin cleanser is also important to use. Dr. Green recommends avoiding retinoids, Retin-A, exfoliating products and any alpha hydroxy acids for one week after the peel, or until your skin is back to normal. Careful use of a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 50 is essential to prevent further discoloration and the recurrence of pigmentation. Your new skin is more susceptible to the sun after your chemical peel, so the daily use of sunscreen is very important.
What is the Best Skin Care to use with chemical peels?
If you are undergoing treatment for your acne at the same time as your chemical peels, Dr. Green will most likely prescribe a topical antibiotic for daily use. In addition, using a retinoid, Retin-A, or Differin gel at night time, helps to exfoliate the dead skin, controls acne breakouts, and helps make your chemical peels more effective.
If the main objective of your chemical peel is for the discoloration caused by old acne breakouts and acne scarring, Dr. Green will recommend a combination of products from her MGSkinLabs line of products including HQRA (which combines Retin-A and hydroquinone), topical Vitamin C serum (powerful antioxidant), and high potency hydroquinones to use with your chemical peels. Dr. Michele Green specially compounds these products for her private patients and customizes her products based on the individual and their skin tone.
Side effects of chemical peels
There are several potential side effects of chemical peels. This is one of the reasons that an expert in dermatology should only be treating you with chemical peels. The most common risks of a chemical peel include:
- Redness (although redness is expected and normal from any chemical peel)
- Hypopigmentation or loss of pigment
- Increased Photosensitivity
- Herpes flare (If you have a history of herpes infections, an antiviral medication may need to be taken for one week)
How much is a chemical peel for acne scars?
The price for cosmetic peels varies in the type of peel and the experience of the provider. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average price for a cosmetic peel is approximately $750. A deep peel is more expensive since it requires anesthesia in a doctor’s office as well.
Who performs the best chemical peel?
While estheticians and spas do perform chemical peels, chemical peels of medium strength or higher, or those containing trichloroacetic acid (TCA), can only be performed by a dermatologist. It is always best to consult a board certified dermatologist who is experienced in the different skin types, cosmetic procedures, and potential side effects. Dermatologists are experts in treating acne and acne scars, and are in the best position to perform these in office chemical peels.
DIY at home chemical peels
Dr. Michele Green cautions against at home chemical peels. The first consideration is understanding if you have sensitive skin and only using a product from a reputable cosmetic company. If your skin is sensitive, you may only want to use glycolic or salicylic acid peel pads. Glycolic acid peel pads are very good for oily skin types and exfoliate the top layer of your skin. Lactic acid is good for all skin types and fading acne scars. Mandelic acid and Phytic acid are good for fading dark spots on darker skin tones, especially for patients with sensitive skin or who are suffering from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne. It is very important when looking at treatment options for at home chemical peels for your acne or blackheads, to avoid any strong acids since these chemical peeling agents can cause blisters and scarring if applied incorrectly.
Chemical Peels versus Laser Resurfacing
In simple terms, chemical peels and laser treatments are both designed to “remove” the top layer of skin and rejuvenate the skin by reducing pigmentation, sun damage, wrinkles or acne scars. The choice of lasers or peels depends on many factors. Key to the decision is your skin type. Skin types I and II (light skin) can be safely treated by both lasers or peels. However, skin types III and darker (darker skin) are generally more sensitive to lasers and careful choice of lasers is paramount to avoid pigmentation and worsening of the current condition. Dr. Green is an expert in treating hyperpigmentation caused by lasers and cautions patients with darker skin tones about the importance of doing their research.
Chemical peel – 6 months before and after
Do chemical peels help with acne scars?
Many patients ask, do chemical peels get rid of acne scars, and the answer is yes! Chemical peels work very well to eliminate acne scars that can form after an inflamed breakout. In particular, chemical peels work well to eliminate the appearance of atrophic, or indented, acne scars as well as hyperpigmentation that can occur following an outbreak. Chemical peels work by resurfacing the skin and triggering the body’s natural healing process for a firm, bright skin.
How many chemical peels for acne scars?
The number of chemical peel treatments necessary depends on the size and scope of the treatment area, the type of peel that needs to be used, and the strength of the peel. When you have your initial consultation with Dr. Green, she will be able to assess the treatment area to determine your treatment schedule including the number of treatments necessary. Dr. Green is also very careful to take her patients’ skin type into account when creating each treatment plan, as some forms of chemical peels are not safe for all skin types. Depending on your treatment plan, you may have 3 to 5 chemical peel treatments.
Are chemical peels good for acne scars?
Chemical peels are very effective at eliminating the appearance of atrophic acne scars. When performed by an expert dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green in New York, they are a safe and effective way to eliminate acne scars on the face. Particularly when paired with products from MGSKINLABs, chemical peels eliminate the appearance of acne scars, improve the texture of the skin, and can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Should I get a chemical peel for acne?
Chemical peels can be a very effective treatment for acne and acne scars, however, it is best to consult with a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, who can help you determine if a chemical peel is the best treatment for you. Factors such as the type of acne scar or your skin type can inform the treatment that is safest and most effective for you. When you have your first meeting with Dr. Green, she will help to determine the treatment plan that is best for your individual needs.
Is a chemical peel treatment good for acne scars?
Not only is a chemical peel an excellent treatment for acne breakouts, but can also be used to help diminish the appearance of acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation associated with acne.
Which chemical peel is best for acne scars?
The best chemical peel for treating your acne scars will be dependent upon your skin type, skin tone, and the severity of your scars. The trichloroacetic acid peel, or TCA peel, is one of the most commonly used chemical peel treatments for addressing acne scars. This is due to the fact that the TCA solution is able to penetrate deeper layers of the skin than other acid solutions, such as glycolic and salicylic acids.
When you consult with Dr. Green, she will collect a thorough medical history, evaluate your skin condition, and discuss with you any previous cosmetic treatments that you may have had. She will then work with you to determine which type and strength chemical peel is best suited to addressing your needs and achieving your goals.
Do chemical peels remove acne scars?
Chemical peel treatments can be useful for reducing the appearance of acne scars, among other skin concerns such as dark spots, fine lines, and dullness. Unfortunately, chemical peels can not be used to completely remove acne scars. In fact, there is not any cosmetic treatment available that can completely remove an acne scar or any other type of scar. A scar is the result of permanent damage to skin tissue. When you consult with an expert board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green in New York City, the appearance of a scar can be improved so that it is no longer noticeable. Chemical peels work to improve the look of acne scars by exfoliating away the outer layers of skin and promoting the production of new collagen and elastin as well as the growth of healthy, new skin cells. The damaged, dead skin cells will peel away and the cell turnover will promote bright, smooth, clear skin that lasts.
Can you do a chemical peel with active acne?
Yes! Patients can benefit from having a chemical peel treatment when they have an active acne breakout. The chemical peel should work to treat the acne by accelerating the rate of skin cell turnover, helping to unclog the pores. Depending on your medical history, family history of acne, and the severity of your breakouts, Dr. Green may recommend a unique combination of in-office procedures, specially formulated skincare products, and prescription medications for acne to help best manage the breakouts. Once the acne is under control, patients can engage with acne scar treatments and achieve a clear, healthy, smooth complexion that lasts.
How does a chemical peel help acne?
A chemical peel increases the rate of skin cell renewal, encouraging dead skin cells to be sloughed off and new, healthy skin cells to generate. This process helps to unclog the pores, reducing active acne and preventing new breakouts. It is important to have your chemical peel treatments with a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist who has the experience and expertise required to recommend the type of chemical peel that is best suited to your skin tone, skin type, and skin condition. Having a chemical peel treatment with an inexperienced or unqualified provider can result in poor cosmetic results or unwanted side effects like hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, and even burning or scarring.
Can a chemical peel cause acne?
Some patients may experience breakouts of acne following their chemical peel treatment. It is normal, however, to have a breakout or ‘purge’ after a chemical peel, and any acne lesions that appear should resolve within several days to reveal clear, healthy, smooth skin that is more even in tone and texture. The reason some patients may breakout after a chemical peel is that, sometimes, there are impurities underneath the skin that have not yet presented on the surface. As a result of increasing the rate of skin cell turnover, a chemical peel may encourage these underlying impurities to come to the surface of the skin more quickly.
Getting started with chemical peels for acne scars
Acne scars can be a frustrating reminder of previous breakouts and, for many, cause feelings of self-consciousness. It can often be an even greater challenge to improve the appearance of acne scars than it is to resolve the initial breakout. A chemical peel is a non-invasive cosmetic treatment option that can be used to help diminish the look of acne scars as well as other skin concerns like dark spots, dullness, and fine lines and wrinkles. After a series of chemical peel treatments, patients enjoy a healthy, clear complexion that is more even in tone and texture.
To safely and effectively treat acne scars, the best first step is scheduling a consultation with a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green in NYC. Dr. Green is an internationally renowned leader in the field of cosmetic dermatology, with a particular interest in treating patients with acne and acne scars. She is consistently identified as one of New York’s best physicians by Super Doctors, New York Magazine, and Castle Connolly for her innovative treatment approaches, utilizing cutting-edge modalities such as laser resurfacing, dermal fillers, TCA cross, and chemical peels, among others. When you consult with Dr. Green, she will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that incorporates the in-office procedures and specially formulated skincare products to ensure you achieve the smooth, clear, healthy complexion that you’re after. To schedule a consultation please contact the office of Dr. Green online or call our New York City office at 212-535-3088.