What is TCA and what is it used for?
a chemical peel used for skin resurfacing. A solution of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is applied to remove the outer layer of skin. This allows new, healthier skin to emerge. TCA chemical peels are commonly used to treat sun damage, facial wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and pigment abnormalities.
How TCA peels compare to other chemical peels
A TCA peel is a light-to-medium strength peel. There are different types of chemical peels which vary according to their specific ingredients and strength. The depth of the peel is determined by a number of factors including how long the peel is left on the skin and whether it is applied lightly or rubbed more vigorously onto the skin.
In addition to the face, TCA is also applied on the neck and other areas that have been exposed to the sun. TCA peels are often preferred for small areas, like around the mouth and eyes, because the TCA formula has less bleaching effect than some other peels. This can also make TCA peels a better option for patients with darker skin.
Mild TCA peels can be repeated frequently in order to achieve cumulative effects, or TCA can be used to achieve a medium or even a deep peel, depending on the acid concentration and manner of application.
Who should consider a TCA peel?
If you have any of the following conditions you might be a good candidate for a TCA peel:
wrinkled or sun-damaged facial skinvertical wrinkles around your mouth"crow's feet" lines around your eyesfine wrinkling of your upper eyelidsbrown spots or blotchy skin colorcertain precancerous skin growthsacne or chicken pox scarssuperficial facial scars from a past injury
Like the other resurfacing methods, the TCA peel is effective in treating wrinkles, blotchiness or age spots, and scars from acne or other causes. Certain other characteristics of your skin, such as its thickness and texture, may influence whether you are a good candidate for this chemical peel.
CAUTION: Please keep in mind these are very strong chemicals and should only be done by licensed professionals!
TCA used for tatoo removal
TCA is a popular non-prescription skin peeling agent commonly used by doctors, health spas and private individuals to remove fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars on the face. TCA has also been used to remove calluses, stretch marks, age spots, moles and much more. TCA has twice been medically tested and proven to fade and/or remove tattoos. Results were published in the British Journal of Plastic Surgery and the South African Medical Journal. In both studies TCA was found to be a safe, simple and effective tattoo removal agent with an 85% success rate. It was first mentioned as a possible tattoo removal agent in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1928.
How does TCA work?
The process behind the most popular tattoo removal methods is actually very simple. A controlled inflammation is generated on the surface of the skin above the tattoo. This inflammation causes the pigment (ink) to naturally break apart and migrate to the surface with new skin growth. Your body actually does most of the work. Doctors agree that generating this controlled inflammation repeatedly over time is what it takes to fade or remove a tattoo. TCA is the gentlest way known to generate the controlled inflammation necessary for tattoo removal and it can be done in the privacy of our homes.
Does TCA hurt?
Some people say it has a mild sting, others say it doesn’t sting at all. It doesn’t hurt nearly as much as getting the tattoo and certainly not as much as laser tattoo removal. Ladies using TCA for facial peels will occasionally use a hand-held fan to cool themselves. If you are uncomfortable with the feeling, you can always stop it by applying the neutralizer.
Is TCA a tattoo removal cream?
No it is not. TCA looks and feels like water and is applied with a q-tip exactly where you want it to go. TCA has also been medically proven twice to remove tattoos and the creams have not. Many tattoo removal creams contain Hydroquinone, which is usually the active ingredient in skin bleaching creams. Over the counter sales of skin bleaching creams containing Hydroquinone are banned in the UK, France, Australia, Japan and several other countries because Hydroquinone is known to cause cancer and a debilitating skin disease called Exogenous Ochronosis.
In August 2006 the FDA proposed a similar ban on over the counter sales of Hydroquinone in US markets. If/when the FDA’s proposed ban is made law, tattoo removal creams containing Hydroquinone will be taken off the market. There is no Hydroquinone in TCA.