TCA Skin Peel

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TCA Skin Peel Solutions and Their Ingredients

TCA Skin Peel Solutions and Their Ingredients

TCA skin peels have been used for over one hundred years to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes and scarring. TCA, or trichloroacetic acid, is used in combination with other acids to remove the skin’s surface layers. The new skin that grows after the TCA peel is firmer, smoother and more even in tone. Learn more about the TCA skin peel solutions and their ingredients.

Other Acids Used in Combination TCA Peels

TCA, or trichloroacetic acid, isn’t the only ingredient used in many TCA skin peels. Early TCA peels were 50% TCA, a strong concentration that proved to carry too much risk of scarring and disfigurement. Modern solutions typically contain no more than 35% TCA. Many TCA skin peel solutions, especially those designed for use at home, contain much less TCA, usually 8 to 12%.

TCA peel solutions often contain many of the gentler acids used in mild skin peels. Glycolic acid is often used in TCA skin peels. CO2, or dry ice, may be used in TCA peels. Jessner’s solution, which contains lactic acid, salicylic acid and resorcinol, is also often combined with TCA for a more effective medium skin peel. Dermatologists might perform a mild peel with AHAs, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or pyruvic acid before performing a TCA peel, just to make the TCA skin peel more effective.

How Combination TCA Skin Peels are Performed

Rather than mixing all of these acids together into one solution, combination TCA skin peels are usually applied in layers. Your dermatologist will typically apply the gentler acid first. Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or lactic acid may be allowed to penetrate your skin for up to two minutes before your dermatologist neutralizes the acid with water. Once the gentler acid has been neutralized, your dermatologist will apply a TCA solution to your skin.

If you receive a deeper peel using CO2 or Jessner’s solution, the procedure might be somewhat different. Your dermatologist will rub CO2 onto your skin, then wipe it off with a dry cloth before applying TCA. This allows for a very deep peel.

Because applying water to the Jessner’s solution dilutes it and minimizes its effectiveness, your dermatologist will not apply water to neutralize the Jessner’s solution before applying TCA. Your dermatologist will apply the Jessner’s solution, wait for it to penetrate to the right depth, and then immediately apply the TCA solution. Once the TCA has penetrated to the right depth, your dermatologist will then neutralize both acids with water.

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How To: Safely Use TCA Skin Peels

How To: Safely Use TCA Skin Peels

TCA skin peels are a type of chemical peel that uses trichloroacetic acid to remove the surface layers of your skin. The new skin that grows will be brighter, firmer, more even in tone and texture, smoother and younger in appearance. But TCA peels are a medical procedure, and, like any medical procedure, they carry a risk of complications. This risk is minimal, especially when the procedure is performed by a qualified dermatologist.

How a TCA Skin Peel Works to Improve Your Appearance

Chemical peels have been used for hundreds of years to maintain a youthful appearance. Trichloroacetic acid has been used in chemical peels for over a hundred years; the German dermatologist Dr. P.G. Unna documented its use as a skin peel ingredient in 1882. Today, the TCA skin peel is considered an effective medium peel.

There are three types of chemical peels, classed according to the depth to which they penetrate the skin. Mild peels remove only the very top layers of skin. They cause few side effects and carry very little risk, but must be repeated often to maintain results. Deep peels penetrate the furthest, and can bring about dramatic improvements in appearance. They carry a high risk of dangerous complications, however, and are usually reserved only for the most severe cases.

Medium peels, such as TCA peels, penetrate deeper than mild peels, but not nearly as deep as deep peels. They remove more of the surface of the skin for more dramatic, longer-lasting results than a mild peel, with less risk than a deep peel. TCA skin peels are a popular way to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes and mild scarring. TCA skin peels can treat hyperpigmentation problems like melasma, sun spots, sun damage and freckles. They can sometimes be used to remove acne scars.

Normal Side Effects of TCA Peels

TCA skin peels cause some normal side effects. These side effects are generally a bit more severe than those associated with mild peels, since TCA penetrates deeper into the skin. Pain and redness during the first 24 hours after treatment is normal. It’s normal for the skin of the treated area to harden into a brown crust that gradually flakes off. It’s normal for the new skin beneath that crust to be bright pink.

TCA Skin Peel Complications

TCA skin peels carry a very small risk of complications. In rare cases, TCA can damage your skin’s ability to produce pigment, leading to a permanent lightening of the skin known as hypopigmentation. When hypopigmentation occurs, lines of demarcation are often present as well. These lines delineate a boundary between the lightened skin of the treatment area and the untreated skin.

While TCA is often used to treat hyperpigmentation, in some cases it can cause hyperpigmentation. TCA can cause scarring, especially when combined with CO2 (or dry ice) in a combination skin peel. You can reduce your risk of scarring by never, ever picking at your skin as it recovers from a TCA peel.

You’re at increased risk for skin infection during recovery from a TCA peel, but you can minimize this risk by keeping the treatment area clean.

A common complication of the TCA skin peel is delayed healing, which simply means that some TCA peels take longer to heal. Another common complication of the TCA peel is increased sensitivity to sunlight. This doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors indefinitely, but you will need to protect the treatment area. Use a sunblock with an SPF of 30 whenever you go outdoors to protect your new skin from the sun.

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Alternative Treatments to TCA Skin Peels

Alternative Treatments to TCA Skin Peels

TCA skin peels can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, blemishes and scarring. Mild TCA peels can be used to treat acne. But chemical peels aren’t for everyone. Here are some alternatives to the TCA skin peel.

Dermabrasion as a TCA Skin Peel Alternative

Dermabrasion is a skin resurfacing technique that could be used in place of a TCA peel. It can smooth out wrinkles and remove scars and precancerous growths. Dermabrasion literally scrapes off the skin’s upper layers, rather than dissolving them like a chemical peel.

Like chemical peels, dermabrasion may not be appropriate for those with dark skin. The risks of dermabrasion include permanent skin discoloration that can make skin darker, lighter or blotchy. Dermabrasion carries a risk of skin infection, and can cause scarring.

Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure, so preparing for it can be more complicated than preparing for a TCA skin peel. You may need to follow dietary guidelines prior to your procedure, and your dermatologist may prescribe medications to help prepare your skin and body for dermabrasion. You’ll probably be asked to stop smoking at least two weeks before dermabrasion.

For most dermabrasion procedures, local anesthetic is all that’s required. If your skin damage is severe, your dermatologist may decide to put you under general anesthetic.

Dermabrasion usually takes less than an hour to perform. A plastic surgeon will use dermaplaning tools, such as a motorized wire brush, to scrape away the surface of the skin. Afterward, you’ll experience significant swelling and inflammation. You may need pain relievers to help with post-treatment pain. You’ll probably need to stay home from work for at least two weeks, and you may not be able to fully resume normal activities, such as sports, for four to six weeks. You’ll need to wear sunblock on the area every day for six months to one year.

Laser Resurfacing as a TCA Skin Peel Alternative

Laser resurfacing is another treatment that can produce results similar to those of a TCA skin peel. You may still need to use skin lightening creams for four to six weeks before your laser resurfacing treatment. Your dermatologist may recommend medications to help your body prepare for laser resurfacing.

Laser resurfacing is usually performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthetic. The procedure itself lasts no longer than an hour an a half. It’s typically much shorter, however. The length of the procedure depends on the size of your intended treatment area. You may need multiple laser resurfacing treatments to reach your desired results.

The side effects of laser resurfacing include swelling and discomfort. Just like with a TCA peel, your skin will form a hard, brown crust within the first few days after the procedure. This crust will gradually flake off, revealing bright pink new skin beneath. You’ll need to keep your skin clean and most while it heals. Recovery usually takes about ten days.

The risks of laser resurfacing include scarring, burns, permanent discoloration of the skin, and skin infections. Rarely, laser resurfacing can awaken dormant viruses in the body, leading to a flare-up of illness. Your dermatologist may prescribe anti-virals prior to the procedure to prevent this occurrence.

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Combining Other Products with TCA Skin Peels

Combining Other Products with TCA Skin Peels

Combining a TCA skin peel with other chemical peel and skin care products can help make your TCA skin peel more effective and show you better results. Here are some of the skin peels and products that can be safely and effectively combined with TCA.

AHA Skin Peels and TCA

AHA peels, which typically use lactic or glycolic acid to remove dead cells from the skin’s surface, are frequently combined with TCA peels to enhance their effects. Many dermatologists perform a mild AHA peel before administering a mild or medium TCA skin peel. Most recommend preparing the skin for a TCA peel by applying AHA creams nightly for four to six weeks prior to the peel.

Skin Lightening Creams and TCA Skin Peels

Skin lightening creams are often used in conjunction with TCA peels to enhance their skin lightening effects. If you’re considering TCA skin peeling to treat discolorations like melasma or sun spots, your dermatologist may prescribe Retin-A® or an equivalent product to be used nightly for four to six weeks before your treatment. Such creams help discolorations to fade in advance, so that hyperpigmentation is already somewhat diminished before the TCA skin peel begins. Naturally, this helps the TCA to better remove skin discolorations.

Even if your doctor doesn’t prescribe a skin lightening cream, you can use an over-the-counter product. Over-the-counter products containing hydroquinone can help enhance TCA’s skin lightening effects. Apply the product nightly for four to six weeks before your peel.

TCA and Other Skin Peeling Solutions

For deeper peels, dermatologists often combine TCA with other skin peeling agents. TCA may be combined with glycolic acid for a mild to medium skin peel. TCA is often layered on top of Jessner’s solution to achieve a deep peel. Dermatologists also sometimes apply dry ice, or CO2, to the skin before applying TCA; this method can achieve a very deep peel.

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Applying At Home TCA Peel

Applying At Home TCA Peel

TCA skin peels use trichloroacetic acid to remove the surface layers of your skin. When new skin grows, it looks younger, firmer, smoother, and more even in tone than the old skin. A TCA peel can roll back the clock for your appearance, but having one can be pricey. A TCA peel home kit can help you enjoy the benefits of a TCA skin peel without the huge price tag. Follow these steps to give yourself a TCA skin peel at home.

Prepare for Your TCA Skin Peel

Preparing for your TCA skin peel can help to make it more effective. You’ll need to start preparing for your peel at least three to four weeks in advance. You should stop exfoliating at least three weeks before you try your TCA chemical peel at home. You should also stop using hair removal products, like wax or depilatory creams.

Apply AHA cream to your intended treatment area daily for at least two weeks before the peel. For the best results, begin applying the cream daily four weeks before your home chemical peel. Choose a cream that contains a three to eight percent concentration of AHAs. These gentle acids help to improve skin texture and tone in advance to make your TCA skin peel more effective.

You may continue shaving the treatment area, if necessary, up until the day before your peel. Do not shave the treatment area on the day of your home peel.

Do a Patch Test Before Your TCA Skin Peel

Before you give yourself a TCA peel at home, do a patch test to see how your skin will react to it. (If you’ve have professional TCA peels before, you may not need to do this).

Use a Weak TCA Peel Solution

If you are performing a TCA chemical peel at home for the first time, purchase a weak solution. Most home chemical peel solutions contain about 12% of the active ingredient. Don’t use a solution that contains more than 25% TCA to perform a home chemical peel, since concentrations higher than this significantly increase your risk of scarring and other complications.

Clean Your Skin Before Applying TCA

Before you apply the TCA peel solution, clean your skin. Use a gentle cleanser. Remove oils from your skin with rubbing alcohol.

Apply the TCA Skin Peel Solution

You can apply the TCA skin peel solution with a cotton ball or cotton pad. Apply the solution evenly to your skin. Do not rub or scrub any areas, even if you think they might need extra help.

After about one minute, a white frost should appear on your skin. This means the acid is doing its job. You can apply a second thin coat of TCA to any areas that do not frost after one minute. Leave the TCA solution on your skin for two to five minutes.
Neutralize the TCA

You can neutralize the TCA by rinsing your face in cold water. Alternatively, you can mix two teaspoons of baking soda with one cup of cold water and dab this onto the treatment area with a cotton pad or ball. After you neutralize the acid, you can apply cold, wet cloths to your face to relieve any discomfort.

Practice Good Post-Treatment Skin Care

Recovering from your TCA skin peel could take as long as two weeks. Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. Do not scrub or exfoliate your face; use your bare hands to wash. Afterward, carefully pat your face dry and apply petroleum jelly to protect the healing skin. Keep the skin moist while it heals. Avoid sunlight until your new skin has appeared; this usually takes about a week. Use a sunblock with an SPF of at least 30 every day for six months after your home chemical peel.

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The Medium Skin Peel: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About TCA Skin Peels

The TCA skin peel is a medium skin peel that uses trichloroacetic acid. Medium skin peels penetrate deeper into the skin than mild peels, for faster, longer-lasting results. If you’re thinking about having a TCA peel, check these FAQs to learn more about what’s involved.

Will My TCA Skin Peel Hurt?

TCA peels are not incredibly painful. You may experience some burning, stinging and pain during the procedure. Your dermatologist may administer a local anesthetic to relieve your discomfort. After the procedure, you may continue to feel uncomfortable for up to 24 hours. Oral pain relievers can be prescribed to relieve your pain, and cold compresses can also help.

How Long Before I Recover from a TCA Skin Peel?

Most TCA peels are medium peels, and the standard recovery time is about two weeks. You will feel pain for the first 24 hours following your skin peel, and your skin may remain quite red for the first few days. Your surface skin may harden into a brown crust, which will probably fall off within the first week. The new skin beneath will be very pink, but this is normal. You can resume normal activities, including wearing cosmetics, once the brown crust has completely fallen off. This should take one to two weeks.

How is a TCA Skin Peel Performed?

A TCA peel can be performed in your dermatologist’s office, and you can go home the same day. The procedure can take anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour to perform, depending on the size of the treatment area.

You may receive an oral sedative as well as a local anesthetic during the procedure. Your dermatologist will apply a TCA peel solution to your skin and leave it in place until the acids have penetrated to the appropriate depth. Acid is left in place for at least two minutes, but usually no longer than ten. Once the acids have been allowed to burn to the right depth, your dermatologist will neutralize them with a cold saline solution, and then apply an ointment to keep your skin moist as it heals. You’ll be sent home with a supply of this ointment to use during your recovery.

How Can I Prepare for a TCA Skin Peel?

Preparing your skin before your peel can help make the treatment more effective and reduce the risk of complications. Start four to six weeks before your skin peel. Apply glycolic acid and Retin-A® to your skin each day. If you are having a TCA peel to treat hyper-pigmentation problems, apply a skin lightening cream to your areas of hyper-pigmentation each day, as well.

How Long Do TCA Skin Peel Results Last?

The results of a TCA peel can last a long time. Results typically last at least six months to a year. If you practice good skin care, your results may last as long as two years.

How Much Does a TCA Skin Peel Cost?

TCA peels cost about $2,000 on average. However, the cost of your TCA peel will vary, depending on your geographical location, your doctor’s rates, and the size of your treatment area. Peel costs range from $500 to $6,500.

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How To Choose The Right TCA Skin Peel

How To Choose The Right TCA Skin Peel

TCA skin peels can improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, scars and acne. Different types of TCA skin  peels can have different effects, so it’s important to choose the right one.

Choosing the Depth of Your TCA Skin Peel

Trichloroacetic acid, the active ingredient in TCA skin peels, can be used to administer chemical  peels of mild or medium depth, depending on how the acid is used. TCA can be used in a weak concentration to perform a mild peel, or in a stronger concentration to perform a medium to deep peel. Typical solutions contain 10 to 35% TCA. TCA is sometimes combined with CO2 or Jessner’s solution for deeper peels.

Mild peels are the safest type of chemical peel, with the fewest side effects and the shortest recovery time. They need to be repeated every one to three months to maintain results. Having a regular, mild TCA skin peel can help to improve acne, since it clears pores. Regular, mild TCA skin peels can help you maintain a youthful appearance.

Medium peels can be more effective against acne scars, hyper-pigmentation issues like sun damage or melasma, and wrinkles. Medium depth peels offer more dramatic results than mild peels, and don’t need to be repeated as often. Maintenance peels are needed at least every six months. If you take good care of your skin, results can last as long as two years.

TCA Skin Peels: At Home or in Office?

TCA skin peels can be performed in a dermatologist’s office, or you can try a home chemical peel kit. Home kits generally contain weaker, safer TCA solutions.

If you have never had a TCA peel before, it may be best to have your first peel performed by a doctor. At least, seek medical advice before you perform a home chemical peel. You may have specific skin issues of which you’re not aware; a dermatologist can give you advice about home chemical peel safety.

If you have experience with chemical peels, a TCA home peel might be right for you. Start with a concentration no higher than 12%. Never use a concentration higher than 25% for a home chemical peel, since high concentrations increase your risk of scarring and other complications.

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TCA Skin Peels: How Does This Peel Work?

TCA Skin Peels: How Does This Peel Work?

TCA skin peels use trichloroacetic acid to refresh the skin by removing the skin’s upper layers. Here’s how they work.

How Skin Damage Happens

Your skin is composed of two layers, the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of your skin, the one you can see. The dermis is the underlying layer. Hair follicles grow from this layer of the skin, and the glands that produce sweat and natural skin oils can be found there.

Skin damage is often largely the result of exposure to UV rays and the elements. Lotions and creams can only go so far toward keeping the surface of your skin firm, smooth and even in tone. Chemical peels use acid to exfoliate the upper layers of your skin, allowing fresh new skin to grow.

The Different Types of Chemical Peels

Different types of chemical peels penetrate to different depths in the epidermis and dermis. Mild peels, such as those using AHAs, penetrate no further than the epidermis to remove only the most superficial layer of the skin. Deep peels, such as those using phenol, penetrate through both layers of the skin to repair the most severe damage. Medium peels, such as those using TCA, penetrate through the epidermis and partway into the dermis, to remove more of the skin’s superficial layer.

How TCA Peels Work

Because TCA peels penetrate deeper into the skin than mild peels, they can be more effective against fine lines, wrinkles, scars and blemishes. TCA penetrates hair follicles and helps to clean pores, to improve acne. TCA peels are sometimes used to treat precancerous growths.

TCA peels work because the TCA penetrates through the superficial layer of the skin. During recovery, that layer of the skin hardens and flakes off, taking with it wrinkles, scar tissue, discolored patches and growths. Your skin regrows from the dermis. When your skin regrows it should be smooth and even in color, because it is brand new skin. Wrinkles, scars and discolorations fade, because the old, damaged skin has fallen away and the new skin regrows without damage.

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History of the TCA Skin Peel

History of the TCA Skin Peel

TCA, or trichloroacetic acid, is a popular ingredient in many of today’s medium chemical peels. Medium peels penetrate deeper than mild peels, for longer-lasting results. Medium peels have more side effects and a longer recovery time than mild peels, but results can be maintained for as long as a year before the peel needs to be repeated. Let’s learn about the history of TCA peels.

History of Skin Peeling

Skin peeling goes back quite a long way in history. The Egyptians bathed in sour milk to preserve their youthful appearance; sour milk contains lactic acid, an ingredient still used in mild peels today. Later, medieval Europeans used old wine, a source of tartaric acid, also still in use today.

TCA Skin Peels Emerge

In the 19th century, chemical peels went high-tech. Dr. P.G. Unna, a German dermatologist, noted the use of trichloroacetic acid in chemical peels as early as 1882. Doctors continued to study and use chemical peels throughout the early 20th century. Early chemical peels were used for medical purposes, as well as for cosmetic reasons, to improve the appearance of scars, blemishes and wrinkles.

By the 1950s, dermatologists were searching for new peel ingredients and new combination peel solutions that could offer the best results with the fewest complications. TCA was already in use at that time, but early peel solutions were 50% TCA. With such strong peel solutions, the risk of complications like hyperpigmentation, pigment reduction and scarring was too high.

Dermatologists began to work on more effective, less dangerous skin peel solutions containing TCA. Their work has made skin peeling a safe, popular way to rejuvenate the skin.

Today, many skin peel solutions contain some percentage of TCA. Many professional peels, such as Jessner’s solution, contain about 35% TCA, often combines with other mild acids, such as salicylic acid, lactic acid and resorcinol.

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TCA Skin Peel:A Breakdown of What this Peel Does for Your Skin?

TCA Skin Peel:A Breakdown of What this Peel Does for Your Skin?

Chemical peels use acid solutions to remove the top layers of the skin so that new, younger-looking skin can grow. TCA skin peels are a medium peel that uses trichloroacetic acid to penetrate further than the gentler acids used in mild peels. TCA skin peels penetrate through the epidermis, or upper layer of skin, to the dermis, or underlying layer of skin, for a more thorough peel with longer-lasting results.

Uses of TCA Skin Peels

TCA chemical peels are usually used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, blemishes and hyper-pigmentation. TCA skin peels can reduce the appearance of age spots, sun spots and mild acne scarring.

How TCA Skin Peels Compare to Other Chemical Peels

The results of a TCA skin peel are generally more dramatic than those of a mild peel. TCA skin peel results also last longer than those of a mild peel. Mild chemical peels must often be repeated several times, at two to three week intervals, to achieve the desired results. Even after you’ve achieved the desired results, you must repeat a mild peel every one to three months to maintain your results.

The results of a TCA chemical peel are more immediate and more thorough than those of a mild peel. TCA skin peels often don’t need to be reapplied in order to achieve the desired results. Results generally last at least six months, and often last as long as a year. With diligent skin care, you may only need to repeat your TCA skin peel every one to two years to maintain your results.

In comparison to deep peels, however, TCA skin peels are not as effective. The results of a deep peel are quite dramatic, and often last for years. These dramatic results come at a much higher risk of scarring, and with a much longer recovery time. Many people choose TCA skin peels because of their lower risk of complications and their much shorter recovery time.

Typical Results of TCA Skin Peels

A TCA chemical peel can take years off your face by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You can expect to see a noticeable improvement in the appearance of mild acne scarring as well. TCA peels are very effective at reducing hyperpigmentation, or areas where the skin has become darkened and discolored. After a TCA skin peel, you may find that hyperpigmentation issues like melasma and sun spots have faded remarkably or disappeared altogether.

You can expect some normal side effects to occur during the recovery process. It takes about two weeks to recover fully from a TCA peel. You may experience redness and inflammation for the first 24 hours after treatment. During the first few days, your skin may become stiff and dark. Eventually, this layer of stiff, dark skin will fall off, leaving bright pink new skin in its place.

It’s normal for your new skin to be bright pink. Pinkness may not fade for several weeks. Once the old skin has completely fallen off, your skin will be considered healed and you will be able to return to normal activity, including using cosmetics.

Risks and Complications of TCA Skin Peels

TCA skin peels carry a low risk of complications. Nevertheless, there is a small chance of scarring. There is also a small chance that the TCA could bleach your skin, making you sensitive to sunlight. Even if TCA doesn’t cause permanent changes in your skin’s ability to produce pigment, it can still make you sensitive to the sun for a time. You may have to take extra care to protect the treated area from the sun for up to six months after your treatment.

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