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.