Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Trichloroacetic acid is a chemical that is commonly used for cosmetic skin peels and removal of warts, skin tags, moles, and tattoos. It works by removing the top few layers of skin, allowing new skin cells to appear. Peels with this acid are considered medium-deep, as compared to alpha-hydroxy acids with are more shallow and phenol peels which are much deeper. Cosmetic skin peels with trichloroacetic acid are generally performed by dermatologists or plastic surgeons because the solution is too caustic to be safe for home or salon use. After several weeks of pre-treatment with alpha-hydroxy gels and anti-viral medications, the doctor performs the peel during a one-hour visit. Following the peel, the skin looks severely sunburned, and crusts and scabs may form. The recovery time for a trichloroacetic acid peel is at least two weeks, though it might be longer for some people.

Chemical skin peels are cheaper and less invasive than plastic surgery, but they can yield similar results. Fine wrinkles, age spots, and discoloration caused by sun exposure or other environmental factors are removed in a chemical peel. Trichloroacetic acid peels can also remove many types of pre-cancerous lesions on the face. Many patients opt to have this treatment done every two or three years to maintain its effects.