When it comes to chemical peels vs. microneedling acne scars, this article compares the differences and effectiveness between these two skin care procedures.
Acne is a real drag. Although it is more common in teens, virtually anyone can suffer from it at any time – in fact, some even struggle with it for life. The good news is that it is also easier than ever to treat thanks to a whole suite of new prescription and non-prescription products. Really, all sufferers need to do is reach out to a qualified medical professional to get the ball rolling on a fix.
But unfortunately, resolving breakouts is usually just the beginning. Many people who struggle with chronic acne for years find they are left with poor skin texture, acne scars, redness, or discoloration, even after breakouts stop. Some of these symptoms will lessen over time (including redness) while others are simply permanent.
In regards to chemical peels vs. microneedling acne scars, both are great options for treating acne-affected skin. But which is more effective?
WHAT IS MICRONEEDLING?
Microneedling is a cosmetic treatment that involves using tiny needles to poke microscopic holes in the skin (known as micro-injuries). This can be done at home with a handheld roller, but it is far more safe and effective when handled by a professional in a sterile environment (like a medspa).
In most cases, microneedling is delivered in between four and six sessions – rarely, some patients might need one or two more. These sessions are spread out over the course of weeks or months. This keeps the skin in a beneficial healing state longer.
BENEFITS OF MICRONEEDLING ACNE SCARS
The main benefit in microneedling acne scars stems from the fact that micro-injuries trigger the body to produce more restoratives, like collagen and elastin. These “regrow” the injured areas while also adding volume and smoothing out uneven texture. Boosted collagen growth may also help to reduce signs of aging, like wrinkles, fine lines, or discoloration. This can be especially helpful for dark scarring.
Microneedling acne scars is an effective treatment option. It can help to reform pitted or scarred tissue even months or years after the initial injury, and the small needles used mean the risk of infection (and thus, breakouts) is extremely low. It can, in some cases, result in skin that looks smoother, more youthful, and even in tone.
IS IT SAFE?
Yes – overwhelmingly so. The only real risk is in patients who are somehow immunocompromised or suffer from bleeding disorders. Even then, your provider will often be able to help you adjust the microneedling acne scars treatment to suit your needs.
If needles sound a little scary, know that what you’re picturing is probably far more intense than the actual microneedling process. These aren’t the kind of needles used to give an injection or take blood. In fact, they are so small that most people don’t even feel anything other than tiny pinpricks.
Rarely, a small amount of bleeding may occur. This is generally very minimal (just a few dots here and there) and most people only experience temporary redness.
WHAT ARE CHEMICAL PEELS?
Chemical peels use acids and other ingredients to “peel away” the top two to three levels of skin, revealing younger, fresher skin underneath. How this works is really quite simple. The ingredients stimulate rapid cellular turnover, which encourages your skin to slough off older skin cells and produce new ones at a faster rate.
The term “chemical peel” doesn’t actually refer to a single product or process; each formula is customized to the patient’s needs. However, nearly all of these ingredients are some kind of acid, which aids in the skin sloughing process.
For example, Mesoestetic’s products, including Cosmelan, often use retinoic acid or ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Some (including the same product) also contain special enzymes that inhibit the body’s ability to produce melanin, which is responsible for discoloration in scarring and dark spots (melasma).
BENEFITS OF A CHEMICAL PEEL FOR ACNE SCARS
The first thing you need to know is that no two chemical peels are exactly the same. Each formula offers a specific benefit or combination of benefits, and some may even be customized or compounded to suit the patient.
That being said, chemical peels do have a few distinct benefits. They produce rapid results after as little as a single session, and that can be vastly preferable for someone who only wants to eliminate minimal discoloration. Research has also shown that chemical peels might help to reduce oil production and eliminate sun damage, which could slow breakouts or even reverse signs of aging.
IS IT SAFE?
In generally healthy patients, yes – but people with sensitive skin or allergies to certain acids may need a special formula to avoid problems. This is easy when you work with a provider who has experience in treating sensitive skin.
The media often portrays chemical peels as very harsh (in fact, movies often show people with their skin appearing to have third-degree burns afterward). This is not an accurate representation. While your skin will peel off rapidly, the actual aftereffects are more like experiencing a sunburn than anything else. You should only suffer mild redness, too, so you needn’t worry about extreme redness or swelling.
One important word of caution for chemical peels is that they will make your skin more sensitive to environmental hazards until you’re healed (about a week). So, you should stay out of the sun, use sunscreen, stay hydrated, and avoid harsh winds. But this is often the case for most skin-based treatments anyhow!
THE BOTTOM LINE
When it comes to which of these treatments is really “best” for acne, the real answer is that it depends on your skin and what you want to achieve. Microneedling acne scars may be better for older, deeper scarring, while chemical peels work best for topical discoloration and dark purple scarring.
That’s why it’s so important to schedule a consultation with a qualified provider before you make a final decision. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to your local medspa. Remember, consultations are always risk-free even if you decide not to move forward!