Testing TCA Peel to Ensure Pore Size Results?

I want to have a TCA peel treatment for my hyperpigmentation and enlarged pores. However, I have heard conflicting information concerning its effect on the pores. I know pore size cannot literally be shrunken, but many people say that TCA has reduced their appearance. Others say it made their pores seem huge. The risk is terrifying, but I'm desperate. Is there a way I can test it? Should I apply it to a small area of my face first and would that be an accurate representation of how my entire face will turn out?

Doctor Answers 1

TCA for Pore Size and Hyperpigmentation

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As a general rule, you are absolutely correct to say there is no way to predictably reduce pores. Even judging whether or not pores seem larger or smaller is very fickle and subjective. As a rule, anything that bulids collagen or swells the skin will "crowd" pores to appear smaller. This is the case from swelling after any medium depth peel, and probably accounts for the reports you've heard about the TCA peel making pores seem smaller. I doubt this would be a lasting effect.

Pigmentation, though, is a different story - most people feel like pigmentation predictably improves after TCA peels, presuming appropriate before and after care is followed, and sun and heat are avoided for a few months after the peel.. Winter is the best time for TCA peels for that reason.

As for peeling one area of the face to judge the rest, there are dramatic variations in skin thickness, oil gland density, and dermal/epidermal thickness around the face, so one area's results don't accurately predict the entire face's results.

As a final note, it almost sounds as though you intend to do the peel yourself; I hope this is not the case. Peeling is truly an art, and aftercare is a science. You might well be afraid if a physician told you he was going to peel your face, but you were his first patient ever, he'd never seen one being done, and he'd never cared for any patients afterwards. This is exactly what you'd be doing as a self-peeler, and it's just as dangerous for a lay person to do a first peel with no guidance as it would be for a surgeon.

Good luck!

Saint Louis Facial Plastic Surgeon
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