Is A Chemical Peel A Good Treatment for Acne Scars?

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It’s easy to go to a pharmacy and find plenty of solutions for acne – but what is one supposed to do about acne scars? Acne scars are an issue that some people would love to make disappear, but treatments aren’t always as simple as picking out a cream.

Worry no more, because chemical peels could just be the answer to your facial woes.

And while it’s always good to be informed before taking action on what can be an embarrassing and bothersome skin condition, the price tag of confidence, happiness and a higher self-esteem may just be worth the cost of trying something new.

Acne affects a large number of people, so much so that the Canadian Dermatology Association calls it the most common skincare problem seen by doctors. It’s a condition caused by hair follicles being clogged by oil-producing glands in the skin. While acne varies in severity, it typically occurs on the face. However, it can also affect other parts of the body such as the back, neck and chest. Additionally, it’s not unique to teenagers. Acne is common in adults as well. And the scars left from acne can have an emotional toll, no matter the person’s age.

Acne scars can be just as varied as acne itself – from more pronounced pits in the skin, to elevated scar tissue known as keloid scars. Sufferers of more severe acne are more likely to experience scarring, but mild acne is known to produce scars as well.

For a skin condition that is often difficult to hide, the scars may feel even more glaring than the initial problem.

Read on to learn why chemical peels just may be the resolution you’ve been seeking:

What Are Chemical Peels?

Known as alphahydroxy acid (AHA), or betahydroxy acid (BHA), chemical peels are a solution that is applied to the skin, typically on the face, neck or hands. They cause the skin to exfoliate, and as a result, eventually peel off. The final result is smoother skin.

While they are primarily meant to even out skin tone and smooth imperfections, there are different types of chemical peels that address different needs. The first is a more superficial peel, which doesn’t penetrate beyond the first epidermal layer of the skin. This option is designed to even out skin tone and gently exfoliate.

The second is called a ‘medium’ peel, which targets damaged skin cells on both the outer and middle layers of skin. It is meant to address age spots, wrinkles and even freckles.

The third is referred to as a ‘deep’ peel. Following its name, this chemical peel penetrates deeply into the middle layer of skin. It removes skin discolouration, wrinkles, freckles, and, due to its deeper penetration, it can also remove shallow scars. It produces the starkest difference of any of the treatments, however, unlike the ‘superficial’ peel which can be performed multiple times, the deep peel can only be done once.

What Does A Chemical Peel Do?

The idea of a chemical peel might sound a bit scary. Chemicals on your skin? Ouch! However, the most discomfort you are likely to experience with a chemical peel is a bit of stinging. In fact, the side effects have been likened to that of a sunburn. Other potential side effects include redness, irritation and crusting.

And, because there are various types of chemical peels, different acid solutions are used. The superficial chemical peels use more gentle acids, whereas the deeper and stronger peels require a stronger acid.

While the deeper peel is likely to sting more, the effects of redness, swelling and irritation can be soothed with creams and gels, or medications provided by a doctor.

Who Do You Speak To?

It is important to speak with your doctor or dermatologist to determine whether or not a chemical peel is right for you.

There are instances when a chemical peel is not recommended, such as during pregnancy or if you have cut or broken skin. It is also not advised to have a chemical peel if you have psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis or rosacea. There are also potential side effects to be aware of such as scarring and permanent skin discolouration. A healthcare professional will help address any questions or concerns you may have, and ultimately help you decide if a chemical peel is the best way to treat your acne scars.

However, when it comes to addressing acne, chemical peels are a viable solution. Since the outer layer of old skin is removed during the process of a chemical peel, the new skin that replaces it is often smoother. The result is a reduction in the appearance of scars.

Cost of Chemical Peels and Can They Rid You of Acne Scars?

The cost of chemical peels can range greatly, from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. It all depends on the type of peel you choose and the practitioner performing the procedure.

Also keep in mind that because the treatment is often considered an elective cosmetic procedure, it isn’t usually covered by health benefits.

Additionally, patients should expect to exercise caution when exposing their skin to the sun after getting a chemical peel, and also be aware that chemical peels are considered most effective for fair and light skin.

Finally, it’s important to note that for more severe acne scars, there is the possibility that a chemical peel will not remove the scar or smooth it out completely.

Acne scars aren’t something a person has to live with for the rest of their life. While acne often presents itself for a relatively short period of time, the scars can serve as an ugly reminder of what those affected would rather forget.

It is commonly acknowledged that chemical peels are a proven and effective treatment for acne scars. Regardless of the severity of the marks, a patient who undergoes a chemical peel is bound to see results in the tone and smoothness of their skin.

Ultimately, it’s up to both the patient and the advice of a doctor (me) whether the cost – emotionally, financially and physically – is worth the price.

About Dr. Kumar Shivdasani

Dr. Kumar Shivdasani is a medical practitioner with 25 years experience. He began his career in emergency at Vancouver General Hospital and addiction medicine – later branching into cosmetic medicine. He is the owner of CüR Laser and Skin in Vancouver, BC. Education, good lifestyle and diet changes lay the foundation for developing overall health and wellness, helping Kumar’s clients achieve and maintain their target goals. Dr. Kumar is also dedicated to helping others as shown by his support for Summits of Hope and Turning Point Recovery

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