Every time you go for a facial, the esthetician wants to extract all those annoying pimples that cropped up on your face. But you’re seeing friends later, and you don’t want your face to look like a red, blotchy mess. Do pore extractions really make a difference?
Absolutely, according to Dr. Neal Schultz. “They help because it’s much harder to clean out and heal old clogs with topicals than it is to prevent new ones,” he tells Acne.com. “To heal old ones requires expelling the bad material in the clog, which if it’s a whitehead or blackhead, is just sebum and skin cells. But those are hard to get out without a proper extraction. If it is done properly, it aids healing and the less likely it will leave a large pore.”
The key to a proper extraction is properly applying the right amount of pressure to remove the clog. “It has to be applied around and under the blackhead or whitehead. Whoever is performing the extraction can’t squeeze skin together on top of it,” adds Dr. Schultz, a dermatologist in New York City. “If it ruptures internally it’s like a foreign body in the skin, which can lead to an infection or destroy enough tissue to create a scar.”
That means you absolutely need to leave extractions to professionals. Well-respected spas often get the job done. But visiting a dermatologist is ideal because you can get a thorough assessment.
Blackheads are the simplest as there is already an opening for the clog in the pore to come out when correct pressure is applied. Whiteheads can also be extracted, but they don’t have an opening, which is necessary for an extraction. That is when the tip of a needle needs to be used to open it up. If it is cystic acne, that is a more complicated extraction process that can also require the aid of a cortisone shot into the cyst from your doctor.
But, even if done properly, sometimes the skin looks worse right after deep extractions. Is that a bad sign? “Immediately after an extraction, you can get redness from just the pressure, and that is normal,” notes Dr. Schultz. “You can even get a little bit of swelling if you have sensitive skin. But you shouldn’t get a lot of crusting, and the inflammation should not last two or three days.”
So where’s the best place to get extractions? “It’s not about the medical degree,” Dr. Schultz says. “Skilled estheticians can give you a really good result as well as dermatologists.” But if you feel skin squeezing or pinching together at the top of the skin then the extraction is not being done properly.
“It doesn’t take eight years of post-graduate education to properly extract a pimple. But you have to abide by certain principles to know where to put the pressure,” said Dr. Schultz. “That is hard to teach someone in just a couple of minutes. Leave it to the experts!”