This Article Has Been Medically Approved By

May 2, 2019

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)  is a cousin to vinegar. Combined with salicylic, these ingredients have been used together in facial peels for years. Once a TCA Peel is applied to the outer layer of skin, that layer dries and begins to peel off. As the outer layer of skin peels off, the newer, younger-looking skin just beneath begins to emerge.

A TCA peel can:

  • Reduce the visibility of acne scars, dark spots, freckles, and sun damage
  • Brighten the skin tone and erase fine lines
  • Smooth wrinkles
  • Address issues related to irregular pigmentation
  • Be used to treat conditions like melasma
  • Increase skin-product penetration, ultimately leading to healthier, younger-looking skin
  • Clean-out congested pores, leaving the skin soft and smooth
  • Increase collagen production, which improves skin elasticity

Who is a Good Candidate for a TCA Peel?

Although individuals with darker skin tones can have chemical peel treatments, they need to consult with their dermatologist before attempting one. If performed improperly, permanent skin pigmentation problems can result. Therefore, TCA Peels are usually the most successful on individuals who have lighter skin tones.

Patients who should consult with a dermatologist before having a TCA Peel include:

  • Pregnant Women
  • Patients who have used lightening agents 48 hours before the intended treatment time
  • Patients who have taken isotretinoin (Accutane) within the last six month
  • Patients with Eczema, Rosacea, Psoriasis, or Dermatitis

TCA Peels Can Be Used at Various Skin Depths

A TCA Peel can be used at various skin depths. This means it can be customized to meet a specific patient’s needs. Patients can have a light peel or a concentrated peel designed to penetrate the deeper layers of skin.

Light peels are usually done in a series of two or three treatments a year, with no downtime required. Medium peels are done once or twice a year, requiring up to a week for recovery.

Rather than having a full-face peel, some patients choose to have a TCA Peel performed under their eyes: This procedure can be performed alone or at the same time as other rejuvenation procedures.

Do TCA Peels Hurt?

The amount of discomfort a patient feels is directly related to the type of peel being received. A light TCA Peel usually stings for a few minutes, while a deeper peel may cause a burning sensation throughout the entire procedure. In addition, skin treated with a deep peel may feel uncomfortable for a day or two after the procedure; however, this discomfort should not be painful.

A Light to Medium TCA Peel

Some TCA Peels already have a numbing agent included as one of their ingredients. This eliminates the discomfort of light peels and makes the medium-depth peels more tolerable.

A Deep TCA Peel

Patients who choose to have a deep TCA Peel will receive general anesthesia. Since they are sedated throughout the procedure, these patients will not feel any pain. The recovery period on the other hand, is substantial and lasts up to three weeks.

A TCA Peel Treatment: What to Expect

  1. The patient’s face is thoroughly cleansed
  2. The peeling agent is applied to the patient’s face
  3. The procedure takes from 5 to 8 minutes

Directly after treatment, the patient’s skin may look yellow or white. After a couple of hours, the skin changes from this lighter color to red. This lasts 2 to 3 days. Swelling and tightness should be expected. Patients need to avoid the sun throughout the recovery period.

Recovering from a TCA Peel

With a light peel, there is no downtime needed. A medium-depth peel recovery can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days. During this time, patients usually experience some inflammation and tenderness. Their skin will be extremely sensitive to the sun, which can last for several weeks following treatment. Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with sunglasses and a hat to limit sun exposure is recommended.

After a day or two, the skin begins to flake and peel. Patients should not be alarmed if their skin has a brown crust on it; this is temporary and is expected. To attain the best results possible, patients must avoid pulling on or scrubbing it. Allowing the skin to fall off naturally provides the best results. Furthermore, as long as the skin is left alone, there should be no pain as it peels away.

TCA Peel Treatment Results: For The Face

About 7 to 10 days after the skin has completed peeling, the patient should notice improvement. Acne scars, wrinkles, and sun spots should all be reduced. Since the skin continues healing for some time, full results will not be visible for 30 to 60 days. Once healing is complete, patients should use a good moisturizer and sunscreen to maintain healthy skin.

TCA Peel Treatment Results: Under the Eyes

A TCA Peel can be used just to resurface the skin beneath the eyes. This procedure provides the patient with a refreshed, youthful-looking appearance. With this treatment, Dr. Kim smoothes wrinkles and helps even out irregular skin pigmentation. In addition, TCA Peels are very effective at tightening the skin around and under the eyes.

At Sunrise Facial and Oral Surgery, Dr. Kim performs the Under-Eye TCA Peel in just 20 minutes. The time a patient needs to recover from this treatment varies. To learn more about the procedure, the outcome, and your recovery time, contact one of the offices today to schedule an appointment.