What are TCA Peels?
- A TCA peel is a non-invasive skin treatment used to treat skin discolorations, scarring, and wrinkles. These peels get their name from trichloroacetic acid (TCA), which is used to clear away dead skin cells to reveal the newer and smoother skin layers below.
- TCA peels are part of the group of skin treatments called chemical peels, which are used to exfoliate your skin by using different strengths and combinations of nontoxic acid ingredients.
How do TCA peels work?
- A TCA peel dissolves cells in the top layer of your skin (epidermis). As the skin that’s been affected by TCA application peels off, new cell growth is encouraged underneath.
- Once that top layer of skin has peeled off, a layer of brand-new skin cells becomes visible. Often, the new layer of skin is smoother and less affected by “imperfections” such as wrinkles and acne scarring.
What should I do to prepare for my treatment?
- The TCA peel treatment itself will probably take around 30 minutes. You will be instructed to lie down as the dermatologist applies the TCA solution to your skin.
- Most people feel a burning sensation for the first few minutes of the procedure, followed by a stinging pain as the acid exfoliates and clears away the top layers of your skin.
- The procedure is done in a single session. It may be recommended that you prepare your skin with certain products prior to a TCA peel to achieve better results.
- If you are looking to achieve a certain result, multiple sessions may be required. It’s advised that you wait several months between chemical peels to allow your skin to fully heal.
Does the TCA peel treatment hurt?
- During the procedure you may experience a warm to somewhat slight burning sensation, stinging or tingling during your treatment.
- Cool compresses may be applied to help alleviate the stinging.
How long is the treatment?
- The treatment should take about 15-30 minutes.
- The skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oils and the eyes and hair are protected. One or more chemical solutions, such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid or carbolic acid (phenol), are applied to small areas on the skin. These applications produce a controlled injury, enabling new, regenerated skin to appear.
How many treatments are needed?
- During your consultation, our medical spa staff will be able to provide an assessment, which will include the most appropriate type of acid and number of treatments required.
- The number of treatments depends on the individual and the condition of the skin, and your skin care goals.
- Every patient is unique and may require more than one treatment.
What should I expect after the treatment?
- After a TCA peel application, you may notice some changes right away. It could also take three or four days before you see the full effects develop.
- After the initial redness fades from your skin, you’ll notice that your skin begins to feel tight. Throughout the next three days, the affected area will shed the skin that has been exposed to the TCA treatment. It’s normal for the peeling skin to come off in patches over the course of several days.
- Avoid scratching your skin or peeling it off with your fingernails. After the skin comes off completely, the skin underneath may appear firmer, smoother, brighter, and more youthful.
- During the period that your skin is peeling, make sure to wear sunscreen and protect your skin from sun each day. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser to prevent stripping your skin of additional moisture.
- You may plan another chemical peel in three to nine months if you like the result.
- After your peel, continue applying sunscreen daily. Avoid excess exposure to UV light. You may also need to change your grooming habits: waxing and sugaring the hair where you have a TCA peel could injure your skin in the weeks afterward.
What Are the Possible Complications of Chemical Peels?
- In rare instances, there is a risk of developing a temporary or permanent color change in the skin. Taking birth control pills, subsequent pregnancy or family history of brownish discoloration on the face may increase the possibility of developing abnormal pigmentation.
- Prior to treatment, it is important for a patient to inform the physician of any past history of keloids (scar tissue overgrowth created at the site of a skin injury) or unusual scarring tendencies. Although low, there is a risk of scarring in certain areas of the face, and certain individuals may be more prone to scarring.
- There is a small risk of reactivation of cold sores in patients with a history of herpes outbreaks. This problem is treated with medication as prescribed by the physician. Your doctor may also choose to give you medication before or immediately after the peel in order to prevent a herpes outbreak.