Rutgers study finds microneedling better than chemical peels for acne scars on darker skins

Professor Babar Rao. Photo

A Rutgers University professor along with other research scientists, have found that using microneedling to get rid of acne scars is significantly more effective for dark-skinned people compared to the results from chemical peels.

Professor Babar Rao of the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, whose interests lie in cosmetic surgery and dermatology, along with other researchers, published the findings in a recent paper entitled, A Comparison of Microneedling versus Glycolic Acid Chemical Peel for the Treatment of Acne Scarring, in the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information available on the web at:

Rao, who is originally from Pakistan, is a professor of dermatology and pathology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He and his fellow researchers, randomly assigned 60 patients with acne scars and dark skin — Fitzpatrick Skin Phototype IV to VI — to treatment with either 35 percent glycolic acid chemical peels or microneedling, both administered every two weeks for 12 weeks, Rutgers University noted in an August 19, 2022, press release.

Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure involving tiny, sterilized needles that pierce the skin to stimulate collagen production and reduce scarring. Chemical peels involve applying a solution to the skin that removes the top layers.

Treatment produced an improvement of two points or more on the Goodman and Baron Scarring Grading System in 33 percent of patients who received chemical peels and 73 percent of patients who underwent microneedling, according to the report.

“Based on the results of this study, patients whose darker skin precludes the use of stronger chemical peels, which can permanently discolor darker skin, should treat acne scars with microneedling,” Rao, the senior author of the study, is quoted saying. “For patients with lighter skin who can use stronger peels without risk of discoloration, chemical peels might still be the best option for some.”

Acne vulgaris is a common skin disease that frequently results in scarring.

“Scars secondary to acne can lead to physical disfigurements and a profound psychological impact,” study authors say. Early and effective treatment is the best means to minimize and prevent acne scarring, they say.

“In patients with darker skin tones, current acne scar treatments pose complications, including dyspigmentation, further scarring, and overall unsatisfactory clinical outcomes,” Rao et al say in their abstract provided for the study. Their objective for the study was to compare the efficacy of microneedling versus 35% glycolic acid chemical peels for the treatment of acne scars.



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