What is TCA CROSS treatment?
TCA CROSS is an acronym for
- the Chemical Reconstruction Of Skin Scars (CROSS) using
- trichloroacetic acid (TCA).
The treatment is a skin peel that is most effective for deep acne scars (‘ice-pick scars’) that do not respond well to fractional laser treatments.
Best results are achieved in combination with other acne scar treatments.
How does TCA CROSS treatment work?
The treatment involves depositing small amounts of highly-concentrated TCA onto the surface of the scar.
The TCA causes a reaction in the skin that leads to the formation of new collagen fibres at the site of the scarring.
This raises the level of the scar, reducing the indentation rather than completely removing it.
Patients with acne often have different types of scarring, including rolling scars, ice-pick scarring and box scars. Therefore a range of treatments may be needed to remove all the signs of scarring, including:
- TCA chemical peels
- subcision and
- punch excision.
What happens during the treatment?
Before we start the procedure, we will thoroughly examine your skin to assess the extent and nature of the scarring. We may also photograph the affected areas for reference.
We will then discuss with you the options most suitable for each type of scarring, and explain in more detail how the procedures work and what outcomes to expect.
We then use an applicator to inject the TCA into the base of the acne scar. The precise concentration of TCA that we use depends on your skin colour and the depth of the scarring.
The procedure is usually completed with 10 or 15 minutes. Afterwards, we apply a healing balm and face wash to the treated area.
How many treatments will I need?
You should notice improvement after the first treatment.
However, most deeper, ice-pick scars need 2 or 3 TCA treatments (at intervals of 8 weeks) before they reach the level where they can be treated effectively with lasers.
Is TCA CROSS for acne scars painful?
The procedure may be slightly uncomfortable – you may feel a slight, brief stinging sensation – but this should not be painful and you won’t need a local anaesthetic.
What is the recovery time from a TCA CROSS treatment?
After the procedure, you will notice:
- the surface of the scar appears white (called ‘frosting’), which may last up to 12 hours
- redness and soreness to the skin around the treated areas, which may last for 24 to 48 hours
- small scabs on the treated scars after 2 or 3 days, which usually fall of in the following 4 to 7 days.
These are signs of the healing process. You should have full recovery after 7 days, although for some patients the redness may take a few days longer to subside.
During the recovery period, you can wash your face and apply make-up as normal.
However, we do recommend that you use sun protection to reduce the chance of pigmentation.
Complications from TCA CROSS treatment are rare, but we will discuss these with you and what action to take if you have any concerns.
Is it suitable for all skin types?
TCA CROSS is suitable and safe for all skin types.
However, with darker skin, the treated area may appear darker than the surrounding skin, possibly for several weeks or months.
For this reason, we may need to slightly alter the treatment method (and number of treatments) for darker skins. This will help to minimise possible side effects and maximise the results.
We will discuss this with you during the initial examination and consultation.
For more information about TCA CROSS skin peels, and to book your consultation with one of our specialists, please contact us at Dr MediSpa.