Can I Use TCA Chemical Peel to Remove my Tattoo?

I have a new tattoo and I hate it. I want to remove it with TCA Chemical peel but I'm scared. Is it safe and which should I use?

Doctor Answers 4

TCA not safe for tattoo removal

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The gold standard for tattoo removal is a q-switched nd:yag laser. Chemicals or abrasive exfoliants can damage and irritate the skin and usually do not reach the deeper layers of the skin, and are therefore ineffective. They may also sometimes damage or scar the skin.

TCA chemical peel

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Superficial or deep chemical peels will not work for complete removal of a tattoo. It is not a recommended treatment as it will probably scar and not be completely removed. For the best results laser therapy is the appropriate treatment to more fully get rid of your tattoo. Depending on the tattoo colors and where it is located, a trained physician will choose an appropriate laser & treatment setting for the therapy.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

TCA Peel is not the better option for tattoo removal

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With class IV medical lasers comes technology that is very effective in treating tattoos.  If it requires high powered lasers to fragment (very selectively) ink particles, one can imagine that a TCA peel would not be able to perform anything comparable to what a laser can do.  Lasers will offer a more consistent, predictable result versus peels.

See our below link for an article on this very subject.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

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Tattoo treatment using chemicals is unsafe

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You will risk scarring and incomplete removal of the tattoo if you opt to "burn" it off. A TCA peel will only remove the superficial layer of the skin, and tattoos penetrate deep into the dermis...that's why they are permanent.

Any treatment such as IPL (photofacial) or a peel would have to penetrate very deeply into the skin, and the risk of an unsightly scar would be very high.

Lasers are by far the safest way to remove your tattoo...they use a laser light, often specifically tuned to the color of the ink, to physically break the ink up into smaller fragments that your body then absorbs.

When properly done, there is very little chance of a burn or skin damage after the laser treatment.

Several sesions, and sometimes up to 10 sessions, are going to be necessary and the cost depends on the size of the tattoo.

John LoMonaco, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 276 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.