Trichloracetic acid (TCA) peels reduce the appearance of aging and brown spots, fine lines, and mild to moderate acne by chemically removing the top layer of the skin. TCA peels also improve the texture and tone of sun-damaged skin affected by melasma (brown patches on the skin caused by excessive exposure to sunlight). This popular treatment for eliminating skin issues is a safe, effective alternative to injections, lasers, or invasive procedures that may not be needed to correct mild to moderate skin damage.

What is Trichloracetic Acid?

TCA is an acetic acid related to vinegar that, when applied to your skin, dehydrates cells composing the skin's top later so that this layer can be easily removed. Once "old" skin is peeled away, exposure of fresh, undamaged skin gives your skin a smoother, even-toned, more youthful appearance. Acetic acid forms during the fermentation of ethanol. Found in many personal care products and cosmetics, acetic acid has been used in TCA peels for over 25 years.

How Often Can You Get a TCA Peel?

TCA peels can be repeated every four weeks if your skin reacted positively to the peel. Generally, dermatologists suggest having another peel once you begin noticing changes to your skin. People with more severe skin damage should discuss establishing a regular skin care maintenance schedule with their dermatologist involving TCA peels and other non-invasive cosmetic procedures. Damage to the skin caused by chemical peels happens when people give themselves peels at home without guidance from a professional skin care physician. Improper or too many applications of TCA peels may even scar your skin. An experienced, licensed plastic surgeon like Dr. Lawler can best tell you how often you can get TCA peels without damaging your skin.

How Do Skin Peels Work to Rejuvenate Skin?

All skin peels work by gently removing the top layer of your skin. Consisting mostly of dead skin cells, this layer of skin (stratum corneum) exacerbates fine lines, worsens skin discolorations and promotes the appearance signs of aging. Depending on the severity of a skin problem, your doctor may recommend a stronger TCA peel to remove more layers of skin. However, a medium-depth TCA peel can only be given bi-yearly or yearly to avoid scarring or other complications.

Are Results of a TCA Peel Immediately Noticeable?

In most cases, yes. Over the next 30 days, you will notice continuing improvement of your skin. How long results last depends on peel depth, sun exposure, and other individual factors.

What Aftercare is Needed Following a TCA Peel?

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and apply a doctor-recommended moisturizer daily after a TCA peel treatment. Your skin will be drier than usual until it has fully healed. One of the most important things to remember is to avoid sun exposure for at least three weeks. If you have a medium-depth peel, your doctor may ask you to avoid sunlight for up to eight weeks.

What Else Should I Know About Getting TCA Peels?

Dr. Lawler advises against giving yourself chemical peels at home. Certain skin types may take on a permanent color change after the peel. Women on birth control pills are at risk for developing discolorations due to increased hormone levels in the bloodstream. If you suffer from recurring cold sores (herpes), a chemical peel presents a small risk of provoking reactivation of the herpes virus. Your consultation with Dr. Lawler will involve discussing your medical history, past issues with your skin, what you expect to achieve with a TCA peel and current health problems. If Dr. Lawler thinks a TCA peel may not be right for you, he will suggest a variety of other cosmetic procedures designed to improve skin appearance, tone, and texture. Call today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lawler. The Lawler Centre also offers a comprehensive variety of surgical and nonsurgical face and body treatments.