4th December 2019

Can Skin Peeling Treatments Remove Acne Scars?

Last Modified: August 3, 2022

You’ve gone through a brief period of acne and it shows on your face in the form of acne scars. These scars are a source of embarrassment for you but you’re not too sure about how you can fix your problem.

Have you thought about chemical skin peeling? They have the potential to fade your scars by smoothing out your skin and reducing hyperpigmentation. How effective it is at doing this all depends on the peel that you get.

Are you curious to find out more? Keep reading to see if a chemical peel can really fade your acne scars and which one would be best for your face.

1. Types of Acne Scars

Before we get into how to treat acne scars, let's talk a little bit about the different types. There are two, atrophic and hypertrophic.


Atrophic scars appear as small indents on the surface of your skin. They show up as a result of new tissue refusing to form when the acne is healing. Atrophic scars can be narrowed down into three different categories.

Icepick scars are small and narrow but deep. Boxcar is a bit wider than an icepick atrophic scar. Boxcar ones typically form an oval or circle shape.

Rolling atrophic scars are a bit shallower than the other two. It leaves a sort of wavy texture on your skin.

For the most part, you'll need to have multiple peels if you want atrophic scars to fade. Most people get them over a series of months or even years depending on how bad it is.


When your acne is healing if a lot of collagen is created then you'll experience hypertrophic scars. It's unfortunate but these are a bit more extreme than atrophic scars.

They cannot be faded or healed by a chemical peel. You'll have to talk to your dermatologist about stronger treatment methods.

2. Which Chemical Peel is the Best Option?

Like atrophic scarring, the types of chemical peels fall into three categories. Light chemical peels can smooth the skin and as the name suggests, fade light scarring.

Medium chemical peels are a little bit stronger than light ones. You'll see faster results and if you're lucky, you'll only need to get one treatment done. The third category is deep chemical peels.

It's not recommended that you use deep chemical peels to tackle your scaring problem. The results you receive from a chemical peel are mostly determined by your skin type.

The person doing your peel will do a short skin assessment with you to determine which one of these chemical peels would be the best for you.


Glycolic chemical peels are a popular choice because they're safe for most skin types. You can't use them often if you have dark skin because it has the potential to cause discolouration but other than that, glycolic peels are a good option.

It's a light chemical peel that can smooth out the surface of your skin and reduce the appearance of acne scars. It can also reduce the effects of hyperpigmentation.


If you have a darker skin tone then you may get more use out of a mandelic peel then a glycolic peel. Mandelic is a slow-acting acid. Due to the fact that it doesn't work as fast, the chances of it causing skin discolouration are low.

Despite how slow it is, this peel can still leave your skin soft and treat the hyperpigmentation that comes with acne scars.

Lactic Acid

If you have dry or sensitive skin then you'll want to get a lactic acid peel. Lactic acid is a bit weaker than the others so you don't risk suffering from any type of irritation.

Getting a lactic acid peel will dissolve the very top layer of your skin and leave your face soft and free from hyperpigmentation.

Salicylic Acid 

Salicylic acid slows down how much oil your face produces so it's amazing if you suffer from oily skin. It's not so amazing if you have dry skin because it will only dry your skin out more.

Since it slows down oil production this peel is good for preventing acne from appearing in the first place. It will treat the red, inflammatory scars that come after acne too.

Keep in mind that even though salicylic acid is good for treating acne scars, it doesn't fair too well against the deep ones. It will take care of any minor scarring.

Trichloroacetic Acid 

Trichloroacetic acid is a medium peel that works well against atrophic scarring and hyperpigmentation. It will need to be given to you by a professional.

This is especially true when treating icepick or boxcar atrophic scars. They've got to spot treat each little indention in the skin individually.

3. Can They Help Prevent Acne Scars?

The best way to avoid acne scars is to not get acne in the first place. Getting a chemical peel every 4-6 weeks or so can put a damper in acne formation.

Chemical peels can't stop acne that's caused by your hormones. Even so, they can help lessen the damage your skin faces from it so you won't scar as much or at all.

Skin Peeling Treatments Can Remove Your Acne Scars 

Have your acne scars got you feeling down and less confident? A chemical peel may be able to help by reducing their appearance. Try out one of these skin peeling treatments for acne scars and enjoy softer, smoother skin.

Are you ready to get your chemical peel for acne scarring? Book an appointment with us today.

Post Reviewed by: Dr Baldeep Farmah
Medically Reviewed on: 4th December 2019
Dr Baldeep Farmah is the Medical Director and lead Doctor of Dr Aesthetica, a Medical Aesthetic Clinic.

"We want to empower everyone who walks through our clinic doors, to be able to look in the mirror and see a happier, brighter version of themselves."

For everyone that walks through our clinic doors, you may think you are alone, but you are not. Our patients all have a different story to tell but all come from a similar place.
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