A trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel is a medium-depth peel that can effectively treat fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes, and pigment problems. Typically performed on the face, neck, chest and hands, a TCA peel can be customized, with the depth of the peel adjusted as needed, for each patient. A TCA peel can be used on any skin type, and is considered ideal for those with darker skin. A TCA peel usually takes only 10 to 15 minutes to perform, and is considered safe for most people.
During a TCA peel, the skin is thoroughly cleaned, and the peel solution is evenly applied to the targeted areas. Some patients may be given Retin-A or hydroquinone to apply to the skin prior to treatment to maximize results. No anesthesia is required with a TCA peel because the peel solution itself acts as an anesthetic, mildly numbing the skin. Although there may be a slight stinging sensation when the peel is first applied, it goes away quickly.
After a TCA peel, a patient may experience tingling, throbbing, redness, swelling and scabbing, which usually last for about a week. The skin should be protected from the sun for several months post-peel to reduce the risk of complications and maintain desired results. The results of a TCA peel are visible after 7 to 10 days as new layers of skin form; a patient can return to work and other regular activities at this time. Risks of a TCA peel are rare but include infection, scarring and permanent pigmentary changes.