How Do You Prepare for a 12.5% TCA Peel?

How do you prepare the skin so you do not have discolorations or scars after a TCA Peel?

Doctor Answers 3

Skin prep for 12.5% TCA peel

TCA 12.5% peels are safe for most skin types but can occasionally result in temporary pigmentation after the peel and uncommonly, scarring. For individuals who have never had a chemical peel before, I do not necessarily recommend any pre-treatment. Pre-treatment with a retinoid such as retin-a or other exfoliating agents can result in greater absorption of the peel solution and a deeper chemical peel. I would have a board certified specialist in a cosmetically-oriented specialty administer the peel and discuss with you post-peel care which is crucial to prevent complications. I would prepare for post-peel skincare involving the application of moisturizer frequently, sun block, exercise good sun protection/avoidance and start hydroquinone and tretinoin cream 10 days to 2 weeks after the peel for post-inflammatory pigmentation if needed. If possible, I also like to have patients check in with me in person a week or so after the peel.

Good luck.

San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Must use caution when preparing for a TCA peel

The best way to avoid complications of a chemical peel is to have it performed by a skilled plastic surgeon or dermatologist. Any of the chemical peels, even if superficial, can cause hyperpigmentation or scarring. Be very cautious about peeling anywhere other than the face. Match the depth of the chemical peel to the depth of your problem. A TCA peel will typically help with fine lines, pigmentation and texturing of the skin. It is very important to prepare your skin prior to the peel. I usually start my patients on a skin lightening gel that contains hydroquinone, Kojic acid, retinoic acid and glycolic acid. These work to superficially exfoliate the skin and to prevent post peel hyperpigmenation. It is very unusual to have a scar from a properly performed TCA peel. The depth of the peel is important and can be judged by the physician applying the chemical. Too deep in certain areas can cause a scar. More information about a TCA peel at

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Sunscreens and retinoids

12.5% TCA, if applied by a qualified doctor, can be used safely on most skin types. The pre-treatment use of retinoids (I like Retin A Micro, Atralin, and Tazorac) and perhaps hydroquinone (I like TriLuma and Blanche) at night and sunscreen plus antioxidants daytime is the best. Clinique Medical is a new protocol available at your doctor's office that also helps prepare the skin before and between lunchtime peels.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 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.