The active ingredient in a TCA facial peel is trichloroacetic acid – a non-toxic, safe chemical used for facial skin peel treatments. The “acid” is very mild, similar to vinegar. When the TCA is applied to the skin’s epidermis, the top layers of cells dry and peel over a period of 5-7 days, resulting in smoother, rejuvenated, and younger- looking skin. TCA peels provide exfoliation that is deeper and more extensive than a typical cosmetic peel, cosmetic facial, or microdermabrasion. However, it is not as invasive as laser resurfacing or dermabrasion so the recovery time is shorter. A TCA peel may also be done in conjunction with other non-surgical facial treatments, or even with surgical procedures such as a facelift, neck lift, or pan facial rejuvenation.
Though typically used for facial skin, TCA peels also can be safely applied to the skin on other skin areas such as the décolletage (cleavage), neck, hands, arms, legs or the back.
A typical TCA facial peel takes no more than 20-25 minutes but be prepared to spend at least 45 minutes in our office to allow for preparation time. To begin with, our Board Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist will thoroughly cleanse your skin. She will then apply the TCA solution to your skin in several coats. At this stage you may feel a mild stinging sensation but this is normal and will pass quickly. Recovery time varies from patient to patient, but usually it takes anywhere from 5 to 12 days depending on the strength and depth of your peel.
Typically, more than one TCA peel may be needed to obtain your desired result. Treatments are ideally spaced out over several months to allow your skin to heal and rejuvenate between sessions. Your provider will advise you as to a recommended treatment plan based on your skin’s condition and desired results.
After your TCA chemical peel your skin will be generating new cell growth so it will need extra protection from the elements. To protect your newly rejuvenated skin you are advised to diligently avoid all sun exposure for about 3-6 months after treatment — even in winter or if you live in a cold climate.
Your TCA chemical peel is performed by Jennifer Fick, FNP-C, CANS, a Board Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist. You can read more about Jennifer here, or on her own website. Dr. Deschamps-Braly is on hand to consult in more complex cases if necessary.