What Is A TCA Chemical Peel?
Chemical peels using trichloroacetic acid (TCA) are effective sun damage and wrinkle reduction technique that works by removing the skin’s surface layer. Superficial peels act as a skin exfoliator and stimulate cell renewal and turnover.
How Do Chemical Peels Work?
By peeling away the top layer of skin, the appearance of dark spots such as age spots, sunspots, liver spots, as well as fine lines, blemishes, wrinkles and scars can all be reduced. The new skin that grows after the peel is tighter, fresher, smoother, and more evenly toned. TCA chemical peels are a skin resurfacing technique that is tried and true and delivers noticeable results without surgery.
Candidates for Chemical Peels
Chemical peels using TCA are appropriate for anyone who wants to:
- Combat signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth
- Treat acne, acne scars, and other blemishes
- Treat hyperpigmentation, superficial melasma, and age spots
The TCA Chemical Peel Procedure
Trichloroacetic acid skin resurfacing provides medium depth, medical-grade results. The process works by applying layers of mild acids to your face. The skin is cleaned first and the TCA solution is applied. The solution will be left on your skin until it penetrates to the correct depth. A layer of white “frosting” appears for about 10 minutes.
How Long is the TCA Chemical Peel Procedure?
Most chemical peels are performed as a full-face treatment. Each is customized in terms of the concentration of the TCA solution. A lighter concentration penetrates the superficial layers of the skin, whereas a higher concentration of around 50 percent TCA can penetrate more deeply. The length of time for each type of peel may be similar, but the effects differ due to the level of tissue that’s affected. A full-face peel may take approximately half an hour to complete. Your appointment may take 45 minutes to an hour, allowing for enough time to cleanse your skin before your peel and apply a soothing moisturizer or ointment afterward.
How Many Treatments Will I Need Before I See Results?
The number of TCA peels you may need to achieve your desired result will be unique to you. Because peels can be customized to some extent, you have the option of planning a lighter peel. If your goal is to significantly reduce the signs of aging and sun damage, it can take several light peels to accomplish significant results. By choosing a medium-depth peel, you should see more significant results more quickly but will need to plan some downtime after your procedure. We can discuss what you might achieve with our chemical peel options when we meet with you and learn about your cosmetic goals.
How Often Should I Receive Chemical Peels?
This, too, depends on your goals and preferences. Generally, light to medium peels can be performed about every four to six weeks. Many people schedule quarterly treatments to maintain gorgeous, healthy skin.
Is There Anything I Should Avoid Before a TCA Chemical Peel?
To ensure that your chemical peel treatment is as safe and effective as possible, it is important to be candid with your provider about your medical history, current health, and use of certain medications. During your consultation, we’ll also discuss how you can prepare for your peel, including what you should avoid. Generally, it is necessary to avoid products and practices that can increase your skin’s sensitivity. Tanning of any kind, including tanning beds, should be strictly avoided for approximately four weeks before a TCA peel. You may also be advised to avoid the use of abrasive exfoliants and chemicals like retinoids or vitamin C.
What is the Recovery Like After a Chemical Peel?
Most TCA peels are in the Medium Peel category. This means that the skin will crust, flake, and slough off after the procedure. The process can take three to seven days. It’s wise to plan for the latter. As the old skin cells fall away, the skin underneath may look very pink. This can take up to a week to resolve, extending the total healing time to about two weeks. You can resume most of your normal activities after about seven to 10 days, at which point the tone and texture of your skin should look normal. During your initial days of recovery, when the skin is crusting and flaking, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever to alleviate any soreness or tenderness that occurs. Your provider may also advise you to avoid excessive heat. Depending on the strength of your peel, you may need to be diligent about avoiding excessive sun exposure for up to a few months.
It is important to follow the aftercare instructions given to you by your provider. If you have any questions after receiving your chemical peel, please don’t hesitate to contact our Rancho Mirage office!
Are Chemical Peels Painful?
Light to medium chemical peels are usually well tolerated without any need for numbing medication or sedation. During the treatment, as the TCA solution is seeping into the skin, you may feel a stinging sensation. Your facial tissue may feel generally warm during your treatment as well as afterward. Stinging should resolve as soon as we clean the TCA solution from your skin. The warming sensation could last several hours. If it is uncomfortable, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever. To cool your skin, you may carefully fan your face. There is some question about whether or not to use ice after a chemical peel. Please talk to your provider to determine if and how this may be done safely.
TCA Chemical Peel Recovery
Medium depth peels have a recovery period of 7 to 10 days, and the results are long-lasting.
It is normal for the treated area to dry out and develop a brown crust. This flakes off soon and reveals bright pink skin underneath that gradually fades to your natural skin tone.