WHAT IS IT?
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels are considered medium-depth peels. They reach slightly deeper into the skin than alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels and thus, produce stronger results. These peels also have the advantage of being suitable for most skin types, including darker-toned skin. To avoid discoloration, however, people with dark brown skin need to follow a pre-treatment protocol that may include treating the skin with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) first.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
TCA is a skin resurfacing treatment that removes dead skin cells and uncovers a new layer of skin that appears smoother and more vibrant. As a result, it softens fine lines, minimizes superficial age spots and other skin discolorations, and generally improves the tone and texture of your skin. TCA peels are also very popular for diminishing the appearance of acne scars.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
TCA peels generally take 15 to 30 minutes. The exact length of treatment will depend on how many coats of the acid are applied to your skin. First, your skin will be cleansed and degreased. Then, the acid will be applied. As soon as the acid has reached the intended depth, the provider will apply a neutralizing solution.
DOES IT HURT?
You may experience a slight stinging sensation during the 2 to 3 minutes the solution remains on your skin. The provider will use ice water and a fan to reduce any discomfort. If a high concentration of acid is being used, you may also be given a medication for pain or anxiety.
WHAT IS THE DOWNTIME?
You will probably want to set aside several days to recover from a TCA treatment. Immediately after the procedure, you can expect some skin irritation, redness, and swelling. Within a few days, your skin will crack and peel for the next 4 to 7 days at which point, the tighter, smoother, and more youthful looking skin layer of skin will emerge. Since your skin's newly formed layer will be temporarily more susceptible to sunburn, you will need to protect it with an effective sunscreen for several weeks.