Prior to its use in removing tattoos, TCA (Trichloracetic acid) peels had been commonly used to remove fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars. Prior to that, over 50 years ago, it had been used in varying strengths to remove calluses, corns, stretch marks and age spots.
All TCA chemical ingredients have been thoroughly tested and proven effective for tattoo removal or for tattoo fading purposes quite often to prepare the area for a cover-up. In one study published in the British Journal of Plastic Surgery in March 1988 Six hundred and seventy patients with tattoos were treated with TCA during the 6-year period between 1979 and 1984 with an 85% success rate. It was proven to be a simple and inexpensive tattoo removal technique.
TCA is a cosmetic liquid acid, rather than a cream, that acts to gradually fade and remove tattoo inks in the skin and contains no hydroquinone – a controversial skin bleaching agent that is commonly found in many tattoo removal creams. TCA acid is also commonly used by many skin care practitioners including dermatologists, doctors and in health spas. Over the counter sales of hydroquinone is banned in Australia, in 21 European Countries and some Asian countries because of cancer fears and other skin conditions. It is available in some other countries but only in low concentrations such as 2% – 5%. Hydroquinone is very often used to treat conditions such as hyper-pigmentation (or a darkening of the skin), uneven skin tone or dark circles under the eyes.
TCA skin peels work from the epidermal skin surface (the top layers) down to the tattoo ink over time, through a series of skin peels. Chemical peels are considered less painful than laser sessions and are similar to a slight tingling sensation in most cases. A baking soda and water mixture has been known to relieve this discomfort. Many users claim it hurts less than getting the original tattoo done. The inflammation causes a controlled burn resulting in the ink rising to the surface and slowly fading away with repeated use.
Pre-fading a tattoo with a TCA peel at-home kit before having laser treatment can save you money. This is because a faded tattoo will need fewer laser sessions to remove and will result in less painful laser sessions since the prefaded inks will require less heat from the laser to destroy or break down the inks. A tattoo faded with TCA acid will quite often recover faster after a laser session since a tattoo that has been pre-faded is simpler to remove. Less remaining ink in the skin equals less time under the laser not to mention less pain. Fewer laser sessions keeps more money in your pocket. You should keep in mind that just like other tattoo removal methods TCA acids will take time. After the TCA is applied, users should usually allow between 3 and 6 weeks to pass before beginning the next application.
Another advantage of these peel systems are that they are not color-dependent, which is not true for most laser systems. These acids will work equally well on all ink colors.
Lasers usually have an easier time with the darker colors such as black and dark blue or dark red but have a more difficult time removing lighter red, light blue, turquoise, light green, white, greens and certain yellow tones. These colors can require more laser sessions unless the ink is prefaded.