acne extractions

Acne Extraction Recovery: Top Aftercare Tips to Stay Pimple-Free

A zit popping out anywhere on your face can make you feel self-conscious. It’s easy to erase the blemish from social media pictures, but it’s the first thing people notice during an actual meeting.

pimple popping

Acne extraction is a minor surgical procedure that your BHSkin Dermatology specialist can perform to remove pimples safely. 

You may ask why you should let your doctor pop your pimples when you can just do it yourself. The thing is, acne is a skin disorder. As in all other health conditions, you must leave it in the hands of a medical expert.

This article discusses why it’s best to entrust a skin condition like acne to nothing less than a highly-skilled dermatologist. It also has a quick guide for keeping your skin flawless after acne surgery.

But first, we explain what types of acne can be treated by manual extraction.

What Are the Different Acne Lesion Types, and Which Ones Can Be Extracted?

Acne is a condition affecting the pilosebaceous units, or those parts of the skin made up of the hair follicles and their associated oil (sebaceous) glands.

This skin disorder results from the combination of abnormal hair follicle cell growth, excessive sebum secretion and heightened bacterial activity. Important factors that can set off these events include the following:

  • Increased testosterone-like substances (androgens) in the blood, e. g. during puberty and pre-menstrual hormonal surges
  • Reduced body content of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat present in the diet
  • Immunologic changes 

Other possible acne triggers are stress, some medications, poor hygiene, bad dietary choices, etc.

Acne blemishes can take the following forms:

  • Comedones

Comedonal acne arises when a pore is clogged by clumps of dead skin cells, debris, sebum and the skin barrier protein keratin. These blemishes are usually uninflamed, i. e., they are not painful, swollen, red or warm.

Comedones can be open or closed. Open comedones, otherwise known as “blackheads,” are open and exposed to the air. The latter’s interaction with the skin pigment melanin darkens the keratinous clumps. Closed comedones form from deeply-seated keratin plugs, untouched by the air. People commonly call them “whiteheads.”

Blackheads and Whiteheads
Blackheads and Whiteheads on the Nose
  • Papules

Papules form during the early stages of acne inflammation. Acne papules are small reddish lumps lacking pus or fluid.

An Acne Papule on the Upper Left Cheek
An Acne Papule on the Upper Left Cheek
  • Nodules

Nodules are also red blotches on the skin. But unlike papules, they involve deeper tissue layers and reach greater than 1 cm in size. They are firm, warm and painful. 

An Acne Nodule on the Chin
An Acne Nodule on the Chin
  • Pustules

Pustules are small skin bumps that have developed pus.

Pustular Acne Close to the Right Upper Lip
  • Cysts

Acne cysts are pus-filled lesions forming from enlarging or clustered pustules. Cystic acne can reach greater than 0.5 cm in diameter.

An Acne Cyst

Acne extraction is recommended only for comedones. Doing it to other pimple types risks spreading inflammation and scarring. However, acne surgery is not the first-line remedy for blackheads and whiteheads. Patients should consider the procedure only after failing topical regimens or as part of combination therapy.

Can You Pop a Pimple Safely?

Doctors do not advise patients to attempt whitehead or blackhead extraction on their own. A dermatologist removes these lesions under strict standards of surgical care, without which you could risk infection, inflammation and permanent scarring. 

So you must resist the urge to get rid of that zit yourself, no matter how tempted you are. You will not feel better when you see acne scars ruining your complexion later.

Complications of a Botched Acne Extraction

botched acne extraction before and after

Why Should You Choose a BHSkin Dermatology Specialist to Perform Medical Extraction of Acne?

Pimples can grow anytime and at any age. Some individuals are lucky to have only one or two popping up on rare occasions, while others are prone to frequent, bad breakouts. 

Some people may go to an esthetician or other healthcare providers to perform acne extractions for cosmetic reasons. But why are you better off entrusting a skin condition like acne to one of our board-certified dermatologists?

  • Specialized knowledge of the skin

Whitehead extraction is a scarring risk. It requires small incisions that can disrupt the skin’s tension lines if made with undue pressure or in the wrong direction. Board-certified dermatologists know the skin’s tension lines by heart. Trusting them to perform the procedure significantly reduces the chance of scarring.

  • Less infection risk

Your doctor will use only sterilized tools and protect the treatment area from microbes throughout the session. These measures minimize the risk of postop infection. 

  • Able to get rid of pimples safely and effectively

Pimples can come back even after extraction. But dermatologists may combine the procedure with other treatments that can keep acne under control. Their wide arsenal of pimple remedies include the following:

Board-certified dermatologists are the most qualified to prescribe or perform these medical treatments. So seeing one for this condition takes care of the present problem and helps you avert recurrences. Your skin becomes clearer the more you avoid these blemishes.

  • Keen clinical eye for skin cancer

Some skin cancers can mimic acne. Removal attempts may inadvertently push the tumor cells into deeper tissue layers and worsen the problem. Only bona fide skin doctors have ample training in recognizing and treating these life-threatening lesions. 

The blemish on this middle-aged man’s nose looks like a large pimple but is suspicious for skin cancer

BHSkin Dermatology’s board-certified skin care specialists are some of the best in California. Trust them for safe and effective acne treatment.

What Can You Expect During Your Dermatology Consultation for Acne? 

While examining your lesions, your doctor will ask you questions that can help determine your best treatment option. They may inquire about the following:

  • Attempted or failed past treatments
  • Intake of medications that can trigger acne breakouts
  • If you are prone to keloid scarring
  • The presence of other chronic skin conditions, e. g. rosacea and eczema
  • For women, menstrual history 
  • If you have a medical condition that is a contraindication to surgery 

Comedone extraction is just one of many acne treatments. It can quickly reduce bacteria and inflammatory substances, but your medical history can help determine if this procedure is suitable for you.

Your doctor can schedule it right away if you need it and have no contraindications. But big or widespread lesions need to be reduced first with a round of retinoid or exfoliation therapy before attempting surgery. This makes them easier to remove, lessening the risk of skin trauma and scarring.

What Happens During Acne Extraction Surgery?

At the start of your session, your dermatologist will clean the treatment area with medical-grade antiseptic. 

Blackhead removal usually requires only a comedone extractor. This blunt tool is applied to the skin with light to medium pressure until the clogged pore is completely clear. You will feel only minimal discomfort, so no pain medication is necessary.

acne extraction tool
Acne Extraction

Meanwhile, in whitehead extraction, the doctor makes a tiny cut on top of the closed pore before squeezing out its contents with an extraction tool. You will be given numbing medication to make the procedure painless. Big, tough blackheads may be taken out in a similar fashion. 

The whole session can take a few minutes to half an hour, depending on the type and number of lesions. One treatment is enough for mild cases, but patients with more severe comedonal acne need a few weekly sessions for faster resolution.

When Can You Expect Results After Acne Surgery?

The effects of acne extraction are immediate, but expect some inflammation in the next few days. Any incisions made will close up and scab in one week. Outer skin renewal in the treated areas is complete by the second week.

blackheads before and after acne extraction

The skin renews itself every 4-6 weeks. Without additional acne treatments, vulnerable individuals may experience a recurrence after that period, requiring another session.

How Do You Take Care of Your Face After Comedone Removal?

The pimple extraction aftercare regimen is easy and includes the following:

  • Sun protection, which prevents skin damage and pigmentation abnormalities in the treated areas
  • Taking the prescribed postop medications, e. g. antimicrobials or other pimple-fighting remedies, as directed
  • Refraining from picking at the surgical sites
  • Using a mild cleanser and moisturizer twice daily

Be patient as you heal so you can ensure the best outcomes from your procedure.

acne extraction aftercare tips

What Are the Risks of Acne Surgery?

The most common side effects of pimple extraction are mild discomfort, redness and swelling. These are normal inflammatory reactions after any dermatological procedure. They will go away in a few days, even without treatment. However, sensitive patients may take acetaminophen or apply a cold compress to relieve these symptoms.

On the other hand, the following are its unwanted side effects:

  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Scarring
  • Pigmentation changes

These may occur if the procedure is done using the wrong technique, as what usually happens if the provider is inexperienced in dermatologic surgery. Additionally, having an acne extraction more times than necessary can increase the risk of permanent skin damage. Seeing a board-certified dermatologist helps ensure you get the most appropriate acne treatment regimen and that procedures are done properly.

Does Surgical Extraction Cure Acne?

Acne surgery removes only existing comedones. It does not prevent these skin blemishes from coming back, so it is not a cure for acne. Your skin will still be exposed to various breakout triggers after the procedure, making recurrences hard to avoid.

However, there are ways to minimize acne breakouts and scars.

The first is to make healthy lifestyle changes to keep the skin pimple-free for a long time. Some examples are eating healthily, hydrating adequately, exercising regularly and avoiding cigarettes and alcohol.

The second is to follow your dermatologist’s prescribed skin care regimen religiously. Sun protection, cleansing and moisturizing are essential. You may also be advised to use salicylic acid, topical vitamin A, or other skin-rejuvenating treatments, but apply them as instructed to prevent unwanted side effects. Avoid touching your face when your hands are dirty.

The third is to entrust dermatologic procedures only to a board-certified dermatologist. Doing so helps you prevent complications and get only the best results from your treatment.

Professional Acne Extraction: The Scar-Free Way to Pop Zits

Acne is a recurrent skin problem arising from a disorder of the pilosebaceous units. As in all other issues affecting skin health, proper medical care helps patients prevent complications.

Acne extraction is a scientifically-proven blackhead and whitehead remedy. Blunt and sharp surgical instruments are used to clear clogged pores. It is not for inflamed pimple types as it can spread inflammation.

It can produce bad scars if done by inexperienced hands, so it is best left to highly-trained skin care professionals. Sun protection, taking the prescribed postop meds, moisturizing and keeping the treated sites clean are vital parts of the aftercare regimen. 

Acne surgery cannot prevent pimple recurrences. But you can stay zit-free for a long time by adopting health-promoting habits, sticking to a dermatologist-prescribed skin care regimen and entrusting dermatologic procedures only to a board-certified dermatologist.

Want to Avoid Acne Scarring? Let LA’s Top Skin Doctors Work Their Magic

Acne extraction is a safe way to remove comedones, but it does not keep them from coming back. Other treatments must complement this temporary solution to prevent further breakouts.

Our award-winning acne specialists at BHSkin Dermatology offer various therapies for this recurrent skin issue. Visit us at our Glendale or Encino office or use our telederm portal for a consultation.

Book your appointment today! 


Author: Don Mehrabi

Don Mehrabi, MD, FAAD, is LA’s leading board-certified dermatologist who treats patients, builds the BHSkin clinics, and raises three kids. This blog builds on medical studies combined with Dr. Mehrabi's first-hand experiences from practicing in Encino-Tarzana, Glendale, and online

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