Acne Surgery

Latest update: February 27, 2024
Medically reviewed by: Jordan Frey MD


Acne surgery can help to heal blemishes  quickly. It is also an option if prescription medication is not possible due to pregnancy or breastfeeding. Acne surgery encompasses the extraction of clogged pores by incision and drainage of active acne lesions. Extraction can be performed on open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads) comedonal acne. The  procedure clears the pores, encourages natural healing, and avoids the possibility of further breakouts.

The extraction process uses a metal tool and applies pressure on the clogged pore to excrete the dirt and oil. Practitioners use a sterile needle to penetrate the skin for stubborn lesions before removing the plug.

Some cystic acne does not heal using other treatments such as oral medication, topical creams, and cortisol injections. In these cases, drainage is an option to alleviate the pain. A needle pierces the spot, and the fluid is drained. The acne bumps usually decrease in size after 24 to 72 hours post-surgery. 

Some doctors may add a steaming treatment before the surgery. This helps pores open up, and the extraction becomes less invasive. Most patients may experience swelling and redness after treatment. These should subside after a short time.

In some cases, extraction may create scarring. Skin resurfacing treatments such as laser and chemical peels can help fade the scars. These processes exfoliate the upper layers of skin, regenerating new skin to improve the scar's appearance. Patients must follow a simple skincare routine after extraction and chemical peel treatment. A mild face wash is ideal 
as it is gentle on the skin.  It is crucial to moisturize twice a day. Lastly, an SPF of at least 30 must be applied, especially after a chemical peel.
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I Got Professional Blackhead Extractions | Macro Beauty | Refinery29

Folayemi Akinbolaji, for Refinery29's Macro Beauty, takes us with her as she embarks on a journey to have her skin assessed and blackheads removed by a professional. She tells us about her skin issues. Dr. Michelle Henry, a dermatologist based in Manhattan, tells us about how she prepares her patients for the procedure. She explains the extreme blackhead removal procedure. She lets Folayemi know that she will be taking two approaches. Which one will work better for the patient?