Chemical Peels for Acne

Chemical peels “peel” the top layers of the skin.

Acne is prone to leaving some degree of scarring on the skin, causing people to seek reduction methods to even out their complexion. In addition to options like laser skin resurfacing and dermabrasion, our physicians at Sanova Dermatology offer chemical peels to help treat acne and diminish its resulting scars. During a chemical peel, a formula of concentrated chemicals is used to “peel” the skin, removing the scarred cells. This causes the targeted area to regenerate, producing a smoother, softer, and more youthful skin texture.

Chemical peels are useful for acne and acne scarring, but can also be used for other skin conditions including brown spots, melasma, keratosis, and to decrease the signs of aging such as fine lines. Superficial chemical peels are considered safe for all types of skin, including individuals with darker skin.

Benefits of Chemical Peels for Acne

Different types of chemical peels are used to address the unique condition of each patient’s acne scarring. Depending on the personalized treatment plan created to address your needs, you can expect one or more of the following benefits:

  • Smoother, softer skin texture
  • Reduction in redness for a more even skin tone
  • Exfoliation to remove dead skin cells
  • Refreshed, healthier complexion
  • Minimal downtime

A realistic view of what you can expect from your chemical peel will be discussed with you during your appointment.

Chemical Peel Options

For patients looking to fade their acne scarring, our dermatologists typically recommend one of two chemical peel methods—a total face peel or the CROSS technique. Each option can provide significant scar reduction results for the right candidates. More comprehensive information will be provided to you during your appointment, but in general, the two peels differ as follows:

  • Total Face Chemical Peel: A total face chemical peel is a generalized treatment and involves placing a TCA (trichloroacetic acid), Jessner’s solution, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid over the entire face. This technique is particularly useful for scars that leave discoloration on the skin.
  • CROSS Technique: In the CROSS technique, a small amount of highly concentrated TCA solution is placed directly into individual acne scars. The scar is destroyed and the skin is regenerated to produce a smooth surface. Multiple treatments may be required to obtain optimal results.

During the consultation, your dermatologist will perform a skin exam to determine the extent of your scarring and which treatment method, or combination of methods, can likely provide the most beneficial outcome. Should a chemical peel prove to be the best solution, your doctor will educate you about the different peel options and recommend the best one for your condition.


The details surrounding the recovery from your chemical peel will vary based on the strength of the peel and how many areas of the face are treated. However, downtime is usually minimal after these treatments, allowing you to return to your daily routine as soon as possible.

If you would like more information about how chemical peels may be able to reduce the appearance of your acne scarring, please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dermatologists.

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