TCA Chemical Peels

Your skin is a living organ made up of millions of cells. Every day thousands of cells die, fall off and are replaced by new cells from below.

Unfortunately, as we age, this becomes a slower and more haphazard process, making your skin unable to shed dark blotches, recover from sun damage, or exhibit a dull, lifeless complexion.

The function of a skin peel is to create an even, controlled shedding of several layers of damaged cells. This exposes a new fresh layer of skin with a more even color and a smoother texture. In addition, the peel stimulates new cells to grow, thereby tightening the skin, which decreases wrinkling.

There are several types of peels, each using a different chemical to create this peeling effect. Light and medium depth peels use the chemical TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) to create their peel.

TCA peels can effectively improve many conditions, including:

  • Dull, weathered skin
  • Freckling
  • Blotchy pigmentation (including the mask of pregnancy)
  • Sun damage (including precancerous lesions)
  • Fine wrinkles
  • Shallow acne scars

TCA is a non-toxic chemical which has been used to perform skin peels for over 30 years. Unlike some other types of peels, TCA peels have the additional advantage of creating a fresh, natural-appearing complexion, while preserving the normal skin color. For this reason, they are often referred to as “freshening peels.”

Although one peel can significantly improve the appearance of the skin, some skin problems are deeper than others. It is possible that you may require more than one peel to achieve your best results.

If you decide that you are interested in a TCA peel, you will need to have consultation with your doctor, who will examine your skin and discuss the potential benefits and risks of a TCA peel for your particular skin type and condition. If it is determined that you are a good candidate for this peel, some topical medications will be prescribed for you to prepare your skin for peeling.

How is the peel performed?

TCA peels are performed as an outpatient in the doctor’s office. A solution containing TCA is applied to your skin. This is usually associated with 2-3 minutes of a burning and stinging sensation. This burning is so brief that most patients choose not to use any sedation or anesthesia.

What happens to my skin during a TCA peel?

When TCA is applied to the skin, it causes the top layer of cells to dry up and peel off over a period of several days. When the old skin has peeled off, it exposes a new layer of undamaged skin which has a smoother texture and more even color.

How much time will I miss from work?

Most people take 5-7 days to heal from an average TCA peel. During the healing process there is no pain, but the skin looks as if it has had a severe sunburn. Therefore, most patients choose to stay home during this healing time. However, if you are not too self-conscious about your appearance, you may be able to work during part of your peel.

How soon can I resume my normal outdoor activities?

Anyone who has had a TCA peel is more sensitive to sunlight for at least 6-8 weeks after their peel. During this time it is very important to protect the new skin with sunscreens, hast and the avoidance of strong sunlight. However, most people are anxious to protect their new improved skin for the damage of sun exposure and they continue to wear sunscreen daily, even after they have healed completely.

Are there restrictions on who can have a TCA peel?

As with any procedure, not everyone is a candidate for the TCA peel. Unlike other peels, those done with TCA usually do not permanently lighten the skin. Therefore they can be performed on patients with darker skin types including Hispanics, Orientals and Blacks.

Can TCA peels be performed on other areas of the body besides the face?

Most people have similar aging and sun damage changes on the neck, chest and hands as are present on the face. Fortunately, TCA peels can be performed successfully on these non-facial areas as well.

Learn more about chemical facial peels here.