What are TCA Peels?
TCA peels contain the active ingredient trichloroacetic acid which can be used in varying strengths to treat a wide range of skin conditions. Generally, these peels contain between 8-35% acid, although some can be as high as 50%. While over-the-counter treatments can be purchased, using TCA peels at home is typically ineffective on more severely damaged skin. So, a professional strength is recommended.
These peels are able to penetrate much deeper into the skin than those containing glycolic or lactic acid. In fact, greater concentrations will be absorbed through the epidermis into the upper layers of the dermis, providing very effective improvement for common skin problems such as wrinkles or hyper-pigmentation.
Like most other chemical skin peels, TCA chemical peels work by loosening and destroying the top layers of skin so that the old dead cells can be lifted away, leaving behind the younger more vibrant layer hiding beneath.
Depending on the strength used, recovery time will be longer than with lighter peels but you will likely find that the benefits are worth it.
Benefits of TCA Peels
- These peels can be used on many different areas of the body including face, neck, chest, arms, back, legs, and hands. When treating larger areas, using a TCA peel may be more cost effective than other treatments such as laser, because more area can be covered per session. It is important to note that in order to avoid high levels of toxicity, you will not be able to do your whole back or your entire leg at once.
- This type of peel is usually safe for those with light brown, tan, or olive colored skin who want a deeper treatment than what is offered with a glycolic or lactic acid peel but do not want the risk of discoloration often associated with phenol peels.
- Medium strength peels are very effective at mitigating the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, however, deeper wrinkles may require more intensive treatments such as phenol peels or dermal fillers.
- The appearance of age spots, sun spots, and other areas of hyper-pigmentation may be reduced.
- Since the acid is able to penetrate deeper into the pores, the buildup of oils can be cleared out, helping with the reduction of blemishes and acne breakouts.
- TCA chemical peels are sometimes effective at removing skin tags.
- Rough, dull, and dry skin will be revitalized and appear brighter and smoother.
- The effects of sun damage will be diminished.
- Uneven skin tone can be improved.
- There should be little or no discomfort following a TCA peel results.
Disadvantages and Side Effects
TCA chemical peels are considered to be safe treatments and typically do not cause any damage to the skin. However, as with any skin care solution, some side effects are involved and you should be aware of these possible risks before deciding to use this application.
Recovery Time: Since you will not be able to use any make-up during the peeling process, which lasts about a week, many people do not feel comfortable being out in public. So, you will need to plan on about 5-7 days of down time following this procedure. You must pay proper attention to TCA peel aftercare.
Peeling: A couple of days after the treatment, your skin will begin to darken and become very leathery. This is a sign that the peeling process is about to begin. The skin will appear cracked and begin to flake off. This peeling will last about one week, and no make-up should be used during this time to reduce the chance of infection.
Pain: Although you should not experience any serious pain, mild discomfort or irritation may occur which can be treated with OTC main medications.
Swelling: Most people will notice some mild to moderate swelling that should subside in a couple of days.
Redness: Since the skin has been mildly traumatized and new layers are freshly exposed, you will likely look like you have severe sunburn. As time passes, this color will fade, with normal skin tones returning within 2-8 weeks following the treatment.
Sensitivity to Sunlight: Your skin will be especially sensitive to sunlight for several weeks - even months - and you will need to wear sun protection every time you venture outdoors.
Cold Sores: If you are prone to herpes cold sores you may need to use a prescription medication to prevent or treat new breakouts.
Discoloration: As your skin recovers from this procedure, there may be patches of discoloration on the treated areas that can last up to 6 months, depending on your skin's reaction to the chemicals, and the strength of the solution used. In very rare cases, discoloration may be permanent. Pigment changes are more common in darker skinned individuals.
Scarring: This is very rare and usually associated with misapplication of the product. It is very important that you find someone who is trained and experienced with TCA peels. It is not recommended that you use OTC products as there is a risk of blisters, scarring, or other serious damage.
Multiple Treatments: Although you will notice improvement after the first treatment, several reapplications are usually required. Peels can be repeated every 3-6 months, depending on the condition of your skin and the strength of solution being used. Some people find that results last for up to 9 months while others need reapplication after only 3 months. In some cases, your skin care professional may recommend using a glycolic or lactic acid peel in between TCA treatments to help the effects last longer.
Additional Note: If you are using Accutane, or have used Accutane in the last 12 months, then you should speak with your doctor before having a TCA peel.
Obaji Blue Peel
The Obaji Blue Peel has recently become a very popular skin care treatment. Basically, it is a regular TCA peel with a blue dye added so that it is easier for your skin care professional or doctor to monitor the absorption and regulate the depth of the peel. Your skin will have a blue tinge for a few days following the peel, but this will gradually fade away.
Arrange a Consultation
One of our advisers will call you back shortly to arrange your consultation.