The TCA chemical peel uses a chemical solution – trichloroacetic acid (TCA) – to improve and smooth the texture of the skin by removing its damaged outer layers. While TCA can be used in various concentrations, it’s most frequently used for medium-depth peeling for cosmetic purposes, making it a safe and effective option for individuals with superficial facial blemishes, surface wrinkles and uneven skin tone. It can also be used to treat precancerous conditions called keratoses, which are thick, rough and reddish growths on the face usually caused by sun damage.
What to Expect with a TCA Peel?
Depending on your skin type, for the TCA peel, you may require pre-treatment with Retin-A or hydroquinone to prepare your skin prior to the peel so that you obtain the maximum results.
The TCA peel is fast and simple – the procedure takes no more than 15 minutes. After a thorough cleansing, the TCA is applied; it causes only a mild burning sensation at first that quickly subsides. No anesthesia is required (the TCA itself acts as an anesthetic). You may experience moderate discomfort and mild swelling within the first week after the procedure. Your skin will usually peel within five days; in about a week to 10 days you should be healed sufficiently to return to your normal activities. The “new” skin remains mildly pink for a few weeks. It is very important to avoid sun exposure after a chemical peel because the skin will be especially sensitive.
Patients report noticeably smoother and fresher-looking skin with the TCA peel. Dr. Jochen will provide very specific pre- and post-procedure instructions to ensure that you achieve the optimum results. Two or more TCA peels may be needed to obtain the results you desire, and these can be spaced out over several months. Mild TCA peels may be repeated as often as every month.
Complications from any chemical peel are infrequent; the most common is peeling in some areas to a depth that can result in scarring. Since the TCA peel is not as strong as other chemical peels, this complication is rare. Chemical peels are contraindicated in certain patients – if you are taking oral contraceptives, for example, are pregnant, or have certain systemic diseases. Dr. Jochen can discuss these issues with you in more detail.
“Chemical peels are a proven, non-invasive way to achieve brighter, younger-looking skin with minimal downtime and discomfort,” says Dr. Jochen. “They are an extremely effective component of an anti-aging regimen that should also include diligent skin care and wearing sunscreen daily.”