Chemical Peel for Acne Scars - All You Need to Know

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on December 26, 2022

By removing the top layer of old skin, a chemical peel for acne scars helps to reduce the appearance of acne scars.

Results of chemical peel for acne scars

Image source: Instagram @blueaurabeauty

Even after you’ve healed your acne, oftentimes a frequent complication remains. Scarring happens as your body tries to repair the acne. The reparation process includes intense collagen production and if there’s too much collagen – scarring appears. Scarring can also be the consequence of tissue loss, creating indents in the skin.

Unfortunately, scarring can result in significant psychological distress as it seems as something “unfixable”. But that just isn’t true. There are loads of treatments to alleviate these acne consequences and increase your confidence.

One of the more popular treatments is a chemical peel. Let’s see how chemical peels for acne scars work.

Table of contents - Skip to a specific paragraph

Does Chemical Peel for Acne Scars Work?

Yes! Chemical peels are one of the best treatments to get rid of acne scars. Chemical peels reduce hyperpigmentation and bumpy texture which makes skin appear less scarred.

The extent of effect these treatments will have depends on the severity and type of scarring. In general, chemical peels showed better results in treating atrophic (indented) scars compared to hypertrophic (raised) ones.

Results of chemical peel for acne scarsImage source: Instagram @hannahleaskincare

Chemical Peel for Acne Scars – What Does It Do?

A chemical peel is a treatment in which an acidic solution is applied to the surface of your face, back, chest, or any other skin area.

This treatment improves the appearance of acne scars by removing the outer layer of the old, damaged skin. That skin is then replaced by new skin, lessening the appearance of scarring.

Chemical peel for acne scars benefits the skin by:

  • Improving the texture
  • Improving skin tone
  • Lightening and reducing dark spots (hyperpigmentation)
  • Unclogging pores and preventing future breakouts.

Factors Affecting the Efficiency of Chemical Peel for Acne Scars

Different kinds of skin and acne scars respond differently to various chemical peels. There are a few factors that may affect the outcome of your treatment. Let’s go over some of them.

The severity of scarring

Chemical peeling is great for skin renewal, however, this treatment does have some limitations. Of course, after chemical peel acne scars will look less noticeable but the treatment’s efficiency depends on how severe your scarring is. There are 3 categories of acne scars, of varying severity:

Atrophic acne scarring

Atrophic or deep acne scars are deep indents on the skin. These scars are described as “craters” in the skin. The best chemical peel for acne scars of this severity is deep chemical peel.

Hypertrophic and keloid acne scarring

These types of scars usually develop as a result of the skin healing process. They look like raised lesions of scar tissue on the skin and are a direct result of the overgrowth of fibrous tissue in the acne lesion area.

Although hypertrophic and keloid scars fall in the same category, they are not the same. The difference is in their size and relation to acne lesions that caused them. A hypertrophic scar is the same size as the acne lesion that caused it, while a keloid scar is actually larger than the lesion itself.

These scars mostly form where the skin is thicker, on areas such as the chest, back, shoulders, etc.


While it’s not technically scarring, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is also another result of skin trauma.

Hyperpigmentation is the result of excess melanin pigment that the skin produces during its recovery after inflammation. Even after the acne has been cured, the mark might not go away. Chemical peels have shown high efficiency at treating hyperpigmentation.

Results of chemical peel for hyperpigmentationImage source: Instagram @hannahleaskincare

Skin tone

Unfortunately, people with darker skin tones are more likely to experience negative side effects like crusting and hyperpigmentation. There is also a higher chance of experiencing scarring and severe discoloration when doing deep peels.

Skin type

Not every peel is right for all skin types. A chemical peel is a treatment that has to be personalized according to your skin type.

Interference of other treatments

Using other treatments for acne (or other conditions) can affect the efficiency of the chemical peel treatment. For some conditions, you will have to consult with your practitioner before booking the appointment. They might only caution against certain chemical peels or completely write them off as unsafe.


Your skin needs to be blemish-free before you start treatment for acne scars. Medications and other treatments used on acne may negatively interfere with a chemical peel for acne scars.

The Best Chemical Peel for Acne Scars – A Short Guide

Everyone’s skin has its own specific needs, which is why treatments like chemical peels are not something that can be done without some personalization. There are many variations of this treatment; the professional doing your treatment needs to identify which peel is the right one for you.

Chemical peels are divided into categories depending on their intensity. There are 3 types of chemical peels ranging from lowest to highest intensity.

So, which is the best chemical peel for acne scars? Let’s see what each type can do for acne scars.

Light chemical peel for acne scars

Light chemical peeling exfoliates the outermost layer of the epidermis. After a light chemical peel acne scars look faded, discoloration is less noticeable, and skin tone is evened out.

When done in a series, these treatments are also helpful in removing mild to moderate acne from the face or body. By exfoliating your skin and causing skin cell turnover, excess oils and dead skin cells are prevented from clogging the hair follicle. That reduces the appearance of comedones (blocked pores) and pimples.

Medium chemical peel for acne scars

Medium-deep chemical peels penetrate a bit deeper into the epidermis and can even impact a part of the dermis. While a light chemical peel can help manage acne, these treatments are better suited for treating deeper skin issues such as acne scarring.

Skin Structure - the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous layer

Deep chemical peel for acne scars

If you have deep acne scars, a more effective treatment is a medical-grade chemical peel.

These treatments use ingredients like phenol and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). These ingredients can be very harmful if they’re not used properly. They penetrate deep into the skin and cause intense damage, so they often entail downtime.

These are serious treatments and should only be done by highly experienced medical professionals.

At Home Chemical Peel for Acne Scars

For superficial skin issues (light discoloration and some minor acne scars) you can try using an at home chemical peel. These over-the-counter products will not be as effective as treatments done at the salon but can be a helpful part of your skincare routine.

Chemical Peels for Acne Scars – Main Takeaways

The results of chemical peels for acne scars can significantly increase your confidence and help you feel better about your skin. Safely removing the top layer of skin lessens the appearance of hyperpigmentation and rough texture, reducing the appearance of acne scars. Chemical peels also encourage skin renewal, vanishing imperfections on your face, back, chest, or any other part of the body you.



Exclusive insights into the PMU industry right in your inbox.

FREE newsletter. 100% good stuff.