TCA peels or Trichloracetic acid peels can be used at different concentrations to achieve the desired results. The degree and location of photodamage and the amount of downtime or recovery period would also determine the concentration used. Over the past few months, we have replaced TCA peels on the chest and décolletage areas with Fractionated Photo Rejuvenation due to the excellent results of combination laser treatments. TCA peel, however are relatively inexpensive compared to laser treatments, and may suit patients with budget constraints.
How are chemical peels performed?
TCA peels are performed in our operating suites by specialist dermatologist. We generally recommend you prepare your skin for 3-5 weeks prior to a TCA peel. Pre-peel preparation increases the efficacy of the peel, increases recovery and reduces side effects. A dermatologist will tailor and provide a pre peel kit prior to every TCA peel.
Once the skin is cleaned a predetermined concentration of TCA is applied to the area with a gauze, the edges of the treated areas are ‘feathered’ out to blend into the surround skin. Once complete a soothing balm is then applied to the treated area. The procedure is complete in approximately 10 minutes.
How long will I need to recover from TCA peels?
Recovery from peels depends on the depth of the peel, which is determined by the concentration of TCA. Typically, under specialist treatments, concentrations vary between 15% to 23% TCA. Recovery time varies between 6 days to 14 days. Absolute sun avoidance must be adhered to for at least 3 weeks post peels.
What side effects are associated with TCA peels of the chest?
Side effects are proportional to the depth of the chemical peel. Common side effects such as redness and itchiness are seen in almost all patients undergoing higher concentration TCA peels. These side effects subside over days (itch) or weeks ( redness.) Other side effects are exceedingly rare however will be discussed below.
- Redness - universally seen with deeper peels ( 18% or higher TCA). Settles down within a 2-5 weeks.
- Itchiness - very common in superficial to medium peels (15% TCA or higher). In higher strength peels, acne or folliculitis may contribute to the itch. In these cases antibiotics and reduced application of post peel emollient cream will help alleviate the symptoms.
- Infection - bacterial, viral or fungal. Uncommon side effect, follow up post peel will generally pick up the signs of early infection. Your dermatologist my elect to prescribe anti viral medications prior to deeper peels as a precaution- especially in patients with a history of cold sores.
- Pigment changes/Demarcation lines - TCA peels are designed to minimise the demarcation lines which are commonly seen after IPL treatments. Our dermatologist use a technique know as ‘feathering’ – blending the treated skin with the surrounding areas, minimising demarcation.
- Scarring - very uncommon. To minimise the event of scarring, patients with a history of keloid scars are excluded from TCA peels. Scarring can occur if infections are not treated or if treatments are too aggressive. Treating physicians will ensure that the depth and concentration of chemical peel is ideal for the condition, location and skin type.
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