What are the benefits of a TCA peel?
It will help improve shallow wrinkles and help to smooth the skin. There will be new collagen (the protein which gives skin its firmness) formed within the treated skin. Superficial pigmentation can also be tackled with TCA. Even abnormal cells within the superficial layers that may go on to form serious problems in the future (actinic keratoses etc) can be effectively removed with the appropriate concentration of TCA.
What is the recovery time for TCA peels?
This varies depending on the depth of TCA peel performed. But, typically for a mild TCA (with a strength of 10-15%), the recovery time will be about four days. If a more aggressive peel is performed, or a combination TCA peel, recovery time may be about seven days. There may be some mild redness that persists for a further week, but this can be covered with foundation.
Are chemical peels such as TCA only beneficial for people with problem skin?
No, TCA peels are beneficial for all types of skin. However, caution must be used when applying TCA to darker skin types and the treatment should only be carried out by a doctor in this case. The act of peeling the skin on a regular basis encourages new cell turnover and in the long-term brings about a process known as ‘neocollagenesis’ and collagen remodelling. In short, this means your skin will be tighter, smoother, free of pigmentation and have a healthy glow. An appropriate at-home skincare regime can be used to maintain the results. Topical retinoids such as 0.3% or 0.5% retinol, or retinaldehyde, work well to continue the benefits of peeling. Your practitioner, nurse or doctor can help you to choose the most appropriate maintenance regime for your skin.
Is a TCA peel a one-time solution?
Environmental factors such as UV damage, dehydration and pollutants are a constant strain on your skin. Therefore, performing a procedure like this only once is like going to the gym only once. TCA peels are a slightly heavier procedure and should be performed (depending on strength) a couple of times a year for optimal benefits. If a mild TCA is used, perhaps 3-4 times a year.
How many TCA peels are needed to see results?
If a stronger TCA peel is performed (20% - 25%, or a combined TCA peel) results will be immediate after one session. Weaker strengths may require a course of 3-4, followed by maintenance every few months.
Are TCA peels safe? (for all skin types)
TCA is a medical grade product and is safe if used by appropriately trained hands. As with any procedure, there are potential side effects, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, prolonged redness, cold sore virus infection, post-procedure contact irritant dermatitis, and even infection and scarring. But if used by trained medical professionals, these risks are minimal. Remember, this is a medical procedure, not a beauty salon procedure.
How many TCA peels are needed to remove acne scars?
TCA peels are beneficial for mild boxcar acne scarring, or mild rolling scars. Ice pick scars need a special type of medical procedure called TCA CROSS. TCA peels will lead to a mild improvement in acne scar, but for substantial improvement of acne scars, more invasive procedures such as laser resurfacing are required. It is important to remember that acne scarring is tough to treat and virtually impossible to completely remove; it can only be improved. Managing acne effectively in its early stages can help prevent scarring.
Dr Asif Hussein. MBBS DHMSA DipDerm FASLMS GDipLaw PgDip Legal Practice, is a specialist in Cosmetic Dermatology & Laser Surgery and is the Medical Director of sk:n London Victoria & sk:n Esher alongside holding the post of Honorary Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London.
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