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TCA Peel

A TCA, or trichloroacetic acid, is a common ingredient found in both medium and deep chemical peels. Strength and depth of a TCA peel can be customized, adjusting the concentration to improve the appearance of fine lines, age spots, melasma, and acne scars.

TCA Peel

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The Skinny


Average Recovery

10 days

Permanence

Temporary

Application

Topical

Surgical

No

Cost

$300 - $1000

The Specifics


What is a TCA peel?

A TCA peel contains the active ingredient trichloroacetic acid and, depending on the concentration, can be performed as medium depth chemical peel or deep chemical peels. TCA penetrates the epidermis (top layer of skin) into the dermis (second layer of the skin) to exfoliate old cells and encourage the body to heal and refresh the area.

Other common medium depth chemical peel ingredients include glycolic acid and salicylic acid. TCA chemical peels create a youthful skin texture and bright complexion. TCA is commonly used to lessen the appearance of fine lines/wrinkles, sun damage, skin discoloration, blotchiness, scars, and certain precancerous skin growths.

What cosmetic concerns does a TCA peel treat?

The chemical solution primarily composed of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) “peels off” or exfoliates dead and damaged skin cells for a restorative and refreshing treatment. 1. Acne Scars & Scars: TCA peel penetrate dermal layers to debride and break down scar tissue. 2. Uneven Skin Tone: Skin layer penetration in a TCA peel loosen collections of hyperpigmented cells for a more even skin tone. 3. Uneven Skin Texture: TCA peel break down deposits of dead/damaged skin cells and oil. 4. Facial Skin Laxity: TCA peel promote cell turnover for a more youthful complexion.

Who is the ideal candidate for a TCA peel?

The ideal candidate for a TCA peel has fine surface wrinkles, abnormal skin pigmentation, or other more superficial blemishes. A TCA peel is not recommended for those with darker skin tones due to the risk of hypopigmentation, individuals with active skin infections or skin damage (like sunburns or lesions), and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What is the average recovery associated with a TCA peel?

There are generally 10 days of acute recovery following a TCA peel. Patients can expect discomfort, redness, irritation, and skin flaking. Skin begins to peel after three days and persists to day 10. Normal activities can be resumed after one week, but sun exposure and exercise should be avoided until skin is fully healed. Diligent skin care and sunscreen will assist healing and lessen possible side effects.

What are the potential side effects of a TCA peel?

Possible side effects following a TCA peel include skin infection, contact dermatitis, irritation/burning, itchiness, pain, prolonged erythema, swelling, and blistering. Delayed side effects may include scar formation, delayed healing, milia (white bumps), changes in skin texture, hyperpigmentation/hypopigmentation, lines of demarcation, loss of cutaneous barrier, and acneiform eruptions.

What can someone expect from the results of a TCA peel?

The results of a TCA peel will develop after three to 10 days as skin sheds and heals. Two or more chemical peels may be needed to achieve the desired results. The results are temporary and will change with natural aging and sun damage. Skin pigment may change and the treated area may lose the ability to tan.

What is the average cost of a TCA peel procedure?

A TCA peel costs anywhere from $300 to $1,000. The actual cost of a TCA peel is dependent upon location, provider, and length and involvement of the cosmetic procedure. Learn more in our complete guide to the cost of chemical peels.

Pros

customizable concentrationsshorter recovery timesmooths rough skinimproved skin texturemild painquick treatment

Cons

pretreatmenttemporary resultsmultiple treatments

Invasiveness Score

mildmoderatesevere
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Invasiveness is graded based on factors such as anesthesia practices, incisions, and recovery notes common to this procedure.

What to Expect


TCA chemical peels use trichloroacetic acid as the main skin peeling agent to chemically exfoliate away skin imperfections, revealing softer, smoother skin underneath. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after a TCA chemical peel.

The Takeaway


A TCA peel can be a medium depth chemical peel or deep chemical peel containing trichloroacetic acid (TCA), which penetrates, depending on its concentration, through the epidermis into the dermis. A TCA peel can effectively treat fine lines/wrinkles, age spots, sun damage, melasma, and acne scars.

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Source List

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  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association Chemical Peels: Overview aad.org
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