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TCA Peels: What They Do and How They Do it

TCA Peels: What They Do and How They Do itIf you would like to improve the overall smoothness of your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, a TCA peel may be right for you. TCA stands for trichloroacetic acid and is considered to be what is called a medium chemical peel. Basically, a solution of TCA is applied to your skin where it burns the upper layer of skin to a predetermined depth. After a few days, the burned skin becomes leathery and eventually peels off, revealing healthy, flushed, youthful skin underneath.


Now before the word “burn” scares you off, be assured that the burning won’t cause damage to your skin. It will cause discomfort during the process and most surgeons will offer you some kind of pain medication before the procedure begins.


Pros of a TCA Peel

A TCA peel can improve the overall color and freshness of your face while evening out your skin tone and texture. It can also help reduce the visibility of age spots and fine wrinkles and improve blotchiness and, in some cases, those dark circles under the eyes.


TCA peels are also safe and can be repeated every three to six months for optimal results. And, since TCA peels are medium peels (as opposed to deep peels), they are safe for people with olive and light brown skin. They have also been successful on darker skin tones, but the risk of discoloration is higher, the darker the skin tone.


Cons of a TCA Peel

While a TCA peel can improve the appearance of fine lines and shallow wrinkles, it will not improve dynamic wrinkles or acne scarring. Also, in order to keep up the improved appearance a TCA peel will give you, you may need to repeat the procedure as often as every three months. With the right skincare regimen, some patients can go as long as a year between peels, but it is much more common to see patients repeat the procedure at least every six months.


How to Prepare for a TCA Peel

If you properly prepare your skin for your TCA peel, your peel will penetrate more deeply, giving you longer-lasting results. Proper preparation can also help speed up your recovery time and lower your risk of discoloration. Start six weeks to a month out by applying a product containing tretinoin daily. The tretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A and will help you shed your outermost layers of skin, resulting in deeper penetration of the TCA and will also stimulate your skin to regenerate more rapidly. If your skin tone is darker, a bleaching agent may also help even out the effects of a TCA peel.


What to Expect

A TCA peel can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. The procedure is very simple – the surgeon applies the TCA solution to one area of your skin at a time and allows it to reach the desired depth. Once it has, the surgeon neutralizes the burning process with iced saline and moves on to another area to repeat the process. The burning sensation lasts anywhere from two to ten minutes, but stops after the iced saline is applied.


After the procedure, your face will return to its normal color within an hour and you will be given an ointment to apply. There should be no discomfort after the procedure is over. Over the next week, your outer layers of skin will stiffen, crack, flake and peel. Even though that sounds bad, it is really something like the effects of a sunburn, but without the itching and burning. That said, most patients elect to stay out of the public eye for a week while these superficial layers are shed.


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