What is a TCA Chemical Peel?

Diane Goettel

A TCA chemical peel is considered to be a "medium" chemical peel on the scale of light, medium, and deep — the three main types of chemical peels. "TCA" is an abbreviation for "trichloroacetic acid," which is the type of acid that most physicians and dermatologists use for medium chemical peels. There are a number of types of skin conditions and issues that a TCA chemical peel can help to correct or diminish.

TCA chemical peels can be used to treat acne.
TCA chemical peels can be used to treat acne.

One of the top reasons that people over the age of 30 choose to go with a TCA chemical peel is that this kind of peel can be used to treat fine wrinkles that are on the surface of the skin. Lighter chemical peels can also work to treat fine lines and surface wrinkles, but a TCA chemical peel often yields more drastic results. The most drastic results for the treatment of wrinkles — even deep wrinkles — can be had after using a deep chemical peel. However, a deep chemical peel requires much much recovery time than a TCA chemical peel.

People battling blemishes also sometimes choose to use a medium chemical peel to help heal their current blemishes and reduce the occurrence of future breakouts. By removing layers of skin, a TCA chemical peel can also remove dead skin that is blocking the pores and help to clear out infections in the skin. In addition to helping to treat acne, a TCA chemical peel can also be used to reduce scars and uneven pigmentation that are the result of acne.

Each type of chemical peel has different recovery time lengths. A medium chemical peel usually leaves the skin red and blotchy for about a week, although a slight redness can persist for up to three months depending on the intensity of the treatment. Also, it is very important for people to protect their skin with sunscreen after a TCA chemical peel. A sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor) is best.

One of the drawbacks to a TCA chemical peel is that if the skin is not properly treated and protected after the peel, the skin can become permanently discolored. For this reason, it is best to have a physician or dermatologist perform the treatment. Although there are some companies that sell TCA chemical peels, it is best to have a professional perform the procedure to make sure that it is done correctly and to make sure that the patient knows how to appropriately care for the skin afterwards.

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