- Jennifer Toledo-Tan M.D. () - January 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Dear Dr. Tan,

I have very large pores on my face, especially my nose area. The cosmetologist at the salon offered to do a facial and some sort of IPL laser to close my pores that did not improve my large pores at all. How can I make my pores finer?


Dear KC,

This is a very valid and common question. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad (but honest) news: your pores cannot be made smaller. No amount of medicine or laser (as far as recent technology is concerned) will alter pore size.

Pores do not contain any muscle that will open or close it. Cold water, toners, medicine, IPL laser, and exfoliation may give the appearance of smaller pores but it is only very temporary. You are lucky if the effect will last an hour!

Pores can be made to “appear smaller” if you clean the debris, oil and blackheads that is in the crater. However, if wrongly picked and squeezed, your pores could also scar. Some toners can make the area around the pore (imagine a doughnut) temporarily swell, giving the nice appearance of a tinier pore. And then there’s oily skin. Very oily skin somehow appears to have bigger pores. There are some medicines that can decrease oil secretion like tretinoin, adapalene, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acids and other alpha hydroxy acids.

Some people mistake the enlarged pores to be actually “ice-pick” scars from old pimples. Ice-pick scars are treatable. (This is another discussion entirely).

So if your aesthetician tells you that she is going to “shrink your pore” next time you get a facial, please be wary that she might not know a whole lot about taking care of your skin. Run to your nearest (PDS-certified) dermatologist who can tell you the truth about your pores! Hope this answers your question.

Dear Dr. Jen,

We are worried about the stretch marks that appeared at the back of the knees of our 13-year old daughter. This started to appear more than a year ago. We are wondering what may have caused this. We have purchased several skin lotions but none have helped.

Please advise us what to do about it. We are worried because she is growing up to be a lady and the ugly spots are making her conscious and lose her self-confidence.

Worried Parents

Dear Worried Parents,

First of all, kudos to you for writing on behalf of your daughter! It is quite common for teenagers to be having stretchmarks. This is caused by the surge of hormones experienced during puberty. Rapid weight gain and growth spurts can cause the collagen in the dermis to stretch and break, giving the appearance of stretch marks.

There are treatments available. Keep in mind that these treatments will not bring her skin back to being totally normal, but will definitely lend some permanent improvements.

Lasers can be pricey but they yield wonderful results. I am partial to the use of RF (radiofrequency) technology for stretch marks. It encourages your own skin to build new collagen, tightening the skin and giving a smoother appearance. However, there are also good outcomes with the use of vascular laser (for the red or purple marks) and fractional laser.

Emollients like cocoa butter and vitamin E can only moisturize skin. Topical creams with glycolic acid, vitamin C, peptides, and retinoids can improve stretch marks too, but to a slower degree.

I hope you will continue to support your daughter and affirm her value, even with stretch marks and all. Good luck in finding the right treatment, if you do decide to see a dermatologist!

Dr Tan is a diplomate of Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS). She is affiliated with Perpetual Succour Hospital.  For other information on PDS, check If you have any questions or concerns please text 0922 845 5556 or email

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