The TCA chemical peel uses trichloroacetic acid to remove top layers of skin revealing the fresh skin below. It is one of a number of chemical facial peels that you can have done by your physician, spa, or esthetician. They are stronger than fruit, glycolic and lactic acid peels but not as strong as a phenol peel. TCA Peels are also available for purchase in different concentrations for at home use. If you opt to do a TCA chemical peel at home, be sure to educate yourself on the products and technique.
TCA peels are essentially a very extreme exfoliant treatment. Exfoliants remove dead and dying skin cells from the surface of your skin, exposing younger skin cells thus making your skin look younger and more vibrant. A loofah or scrub brush is a basic exfoliating treatment, scraping away dead surface cells from your skin. Picture chemical peels, like TCA peels, as a loofah on steroids, picking away at every single dead skin cell it can find, leaving nothing but the barest, youngest cells exposed. This efficiency is why chemicals are so popular.
Trichloroacetic peels are very effective with medium and darker-skinned patients. Like other peels, TCA chemical peels are used to reduce or smooth out wrinkles, correct pigment problems, reduce the appearance of freckles, and correct blotches or light scarring.
Essentially, the TCA chemical peel process consists of a liberal application of the acid solution to the skin. Because concentrated acid can burn away both healthy and unhealthy tissue, chemical peels must be applied in carefully measured concentration for carefully measured periods of time.
Both concentration and time of application can vary according to skin tone, when your last peel was done, desired results, and other variables. As an example, some chemical peels are also used for mole or wart removal – for this use, the concentration would be much higher than to make you look great on your wedding day. It would be higher because the tissue to be burned off with the TCA chemical peel is more localized and penetrated deeper into your skin.
After the treatment, there is often cream that will need to be applied to the skin to help with any discomfort. It is also essential to use sunblock every day. Repeat peels may be necessary to achieve the desired results and annual or bi-annual touch up peels will be necessary for maintenance.
TCA peels are a painstakingly meticulous process. Poorly administered, TCA peels will either have very little effect, or could potentially burn away more skin than you want. In the first case, you’ve spent several hundred or sometimes over a thousand dollars for little benefit. When a TCA peel is either too concentrated or applied for too long, it will destroy more than dead and dying skin cells, and begin to dig in to healthy and even developing skin cells. In mild cases, this looks and feels like a bad sunburn, reddening and irritating the skin. In more severe cases, a bad peel can cause blistering, permanent scarring, hypo or hyper pigmentation.
The TCA chemical peel is available at many salons and dermatologist’s office and it is recommended that you have a professional perform the peel. However, if you decide to try a peel at home be sure to thoroughly understand the process. Purchase the product from a reputable vendor. Do not purchase from ebay or other sites where you do not know what you are getting. Start with the very weakest solution, follow the manufacturer’s directions and be sure to do a patch test.
TCA peels can be a great way to freshen up and bring youthful vigor to your face, either for daily presentation or for a special event.