Should I prep before my TCA Peel?

Should I prep my skin with a light peeling agent before doing a TCA chemical peel? Most dermatologists' websites state that they have their patients prep with Retin-A and/or other products for about a month before a medium peel. I've always done it on my face, so why didn't I do it on my chest?

What happens if I don't prep? From what I've read, the peel can be uneven, some areas of skin absorbing the solution more than others, which results in a better peel in some, but not all areas of application.

I decided to test the theory, to see if I really need to prepare my skin for a TCA peel. I’ve never done a TCA chemical peel on my chest before, and I haven't applied any prepping solution such as retin-a, or any other type of peeling agent.

To remove any oils or residue from moisturizing products, I started with an alcohol prep.

I used the remaining 30% TCA peel solution I had from my facial patch test and applied it only to the area of my chest that is exposed to UV rays during the summer.

This picture is before any application of TCA peel solution:
Chest before TCA peel

I used my fingers because I didn’t have much of the solution, and I thought that too much would be wasted in the cotton if I used swabs. I was careful to apply the solution evenly to avoid any uneven peeling due to application errors since I wanted to see if prepping really made a difference.

I applied three (3) layers, one right after the other, and I thought I was methodical in the application so that all the areas were equally treated, but it was apparent right away that some areas absorbed the solution faster.

Chest frosting after 30% TCA peel

As soon as I saw the uneven frosting, I applied neutralizing solution I had prepared ahead of time and dabbed it on ONLY those areas that frosted early.

After about five minutes, I applied Procyte CU3 Complex. Since copper peptides should be used ONLY when exfoliating, I will apply daily until I start peeling, then I will stop.

This is the next morning. The dark areas absorbed the TCA solution faster. I'm disappointed that I didn't get a very even peel. I believe that's because I didn't prep for this with Retin-A or some other light peeling agent. :-(

30% TCA peel, day 1

So, I believe that prepping for a TCA peel is really important. I've always done it on my face and gotten a nice, even peel when I did the TCA. Here on my chest, I did not prep the skin, and the solution appears to have absorbed at different rates.

I'll post more pictures as this peel progresses.

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