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TCA chemical peel ( winter peel)

A TCA Peel is a non-toxic chemical peel containing trichloroacetic acid used to treat sun damage on the face, neck, chest, arms and hand- it removes and helps with uneven texture, acne scars and fine lines/wrinkles, neck, sun damage on the chest, arms and hands The peel works by drying the top layer of skin and encouraging it to peel over a period of several days, revealing new undamaged skin underneath. TCA peel has dozens of factors that can be altered such as the concentration, distribution and level of penetration, all of which allows us to customize the treatment to best address your specific skincare needs.

TCA Chemical peels have been around for a while but are still a very effective treatment option for most skin concerns, including acne, hyperpigmentation, melasma, uneven skin texture, and fine lines and wrinkles. Superficial treatments are effective for treating whiteheads, blackheads, uneven skin texture, and pigmentation, while medium-depth peels are more effective for fine lines and wrinkles. Deep peels are effective for lose skin, sun damage, wrinkles, age spot and smoke-damaged skin. Since the risk of adverse events increases with the depth and concentration, it’s important to have this peel performed by a physician or cosmetic surgeon. Over 18+ years, our cosmetic clinic has done several thousands of TCA chemical peels.

TCA Chemical peels range in depth from superficial, and medium-deep chemical peels. Superficial chemical peels exfoliate only the top layer of skin, while medium and deep chemical peels exfoliate into the upper and mid dermis, respectively.

Superficial chemical peels are effective for texture irregularity and evening of the skin tone, while medium to deep chemical peels are effective for skin tightening and diminishing fine lines and wrinkles.

In general, the time to heal and potentially adverse reactions increase with the depth of the chemical peel. For this reason, medium and deep chemical peels are typically avoided in darker skin tones, due to increased risk of scarring and hyperpigmentation. For reference, 30%–40% TCA provides a superficial peel, while undiluted and pharmacy mixed TCA provides a medium-depth chemical peel.

How to Prepare for a TCA Chemical Peel

Skin will typically peel for 4–10 days with a chemical peel. Check your calendar and make sure you don’t have any important events or dates within your peeling window. Although you can wear makeup during your recovery, peeling skin is sometimes difficult to hide.

It is also important to avoid sun exposure as the skin is healing. So don’t plan to get a peel right before vacation. It’s also advisable not to have a fresh tan on the day of your procedure.

You cannot apply retinol or retinoid creams a week before your treatment. If you have a history of cold sores, we will prescribe you a prophylactic valtrex to minimize the changes of an outbreak for medium-depth chemical peels.

What to Expect During a TCA Chemical Peel

The actual treatment process takes between 20-30 minutes. It’s best to show up to your appointment without makeup. If you are coming from work and tend to wear heavy makeup, we will clean the skin.

After cleaning the skin, the next step, the actual peel will be applied to the face with either a cotton tip applicator or a gauze pad. This is usually accompanied by tingling, burning sensation and warmth in the treated areas. Often, one area may respond more vigorously than another. A fan is typically enough to mitigate discomfort in a superficial peel. Oral analgesics may be used beforehand for medium-depth chemical peels. You can take Tylenol or ibuprofen if you choose.

The number of layers applied will depend on the desired depth of the chemical peel and your skin’s reaction. We always recommend two minimum layers.

Once the desired end point is reached, the procedure is over. The face will appear ashy or white and will feel tight. Patient leaves with post op instructions.


You’ll cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser, and apply vitamin E moisturizer which the clinic provides and skin bleaching cream for dark skin patients. Creams are applied twice a day. You have to avoid direct sun until the peeling is complete. That is why TCA is a winter time peel.

Depending on the depth of the peel, the skin will likely peel between four to 10 days. The first area to peel will be around the mouth, then the cheeks, then the neck and last will be the forehead. It’s important not to attempt to speed up the peeling process by picking at the skin, as this can increase chances of infection, poor healing, scars and dark spots. Regular skincare and make up can be resumed once the skin has been fully peeled.

At-Home Chemical peel vs. In-clinic TCA peel

The real TCA is mixed by a pharmacist and shipped to our clinic. TCA peels should be performed by a physician or a cosmetic surgeon. The number of layers and pressure of application affect the depth of penetration for this peel, so it should not be performed at home. At-home chemical peels are very superficial and do not contain the type of chemical structures a pharmacist mixes. It will take several at-home treatments used at routine frequency to equate to one very superficial in-clinic peel. There is no at-home equivalent to a TCA medium-deep depth peel; no amount of at-home peels will create the same effect. Real TCA is RX only.

Side Effects

Side effects are common when used at home. The potential side effects for a TCA chemical peel include the risk of hyperpigmentation and the risk of scarring. Darker skin tones should have this procedure performed only by an expert cosmetic surgeons like us who are familiar with treating darker skin tones.

The Cost

The cost of a TCA chemical peel is $350 for superficial peels and $795 for medium to deep peels. Deep Peels are performed every few years.

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