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-SJ-

What Type Of Scars Does Retin-A Work Best On?

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I have a combination of boxcar scars, hypertrophic scars, and some pitted scarring as well. Which scars will Retin-A (0.05%) work best on? I've only been using it for about 2 weeks now. I used to use it a lot in my teenage years but stopped for quite a while until recently.

Will it work on all (or any) of these scars? I've been reading up on it and I've been getting mixed responses about which scars it will work on and which scars it won't work on.

Also, roughly how long does it take to see results with minimizing the scarring when using Retin-A?

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Retin-A, by itself, isn't too effective on scars.

Retin-A, in conjunction with scar revision techniques, like lasers, subcision, punch excision, etc. can actually help.

You have to understand, Retin-A, in and of itself, is just an exfoliation process. It promotes rapid cell turnover, which, by itself, isn't going to help revise scars that exist because you're literally missing collagen. However, if you have revised the scar to either promote collagen growth or by changing the way the scar itself looks, then Retin-A can help you reach the end result of that treatment quicker.

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What about Retin-A used together with something such as a TCA peel? I have a 15% TCA peel solution here at home and I was pondering using it (VERY sparingly) alongside Retin-A, but not too close together. More like laying off of the Retin-A for about a week or so then doing the TCA peel.

But I'd been reading that Retin-A is supposed to help scars if you use it long enough (usually half a year to a year), so your answer is a bit surprising.

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What about Retin-A used together with something such as a TCA peel? I have a 15% TCA peel solution here at home and I was pondering using it (VERY sparingly) alongside Retin-A, but not too close together. More like laying off of the Retin-A for about a week or so then doing the TCA peel.

But I'd been reading that Retin-A is supposed to help scars if you use it long enough (usually half a year to a year), so your answer is a bit surprising.

Some people have said that, but the many dermatologists I have spoken to have said it doesn't do anything appreciable for scars on its own.

If you did it in conjunction with TCA peels, then yes it'll have a noticeable effect. The effects of a proper TCA peel takes about...four weeks for full effect, I think? The effects of a strong retinoid/tretinoin lasts for about a week. The effects will overlap.

The thing to understand, though, is that retinoids, on their own, do not facilitate the reconstruction of scars, they simply increase cell turnover and promote collagen growth, but that collagen growth doesn't specifically target scars, so all it ends up doing is just thickening your entire dermis (and thinning your epidermis due to shedding).

Now, I know you're thinking "I could just spot treat it, that way collagen will only build up in small spots," but that doesn't work as well because several studies have shown that topical retinoids work best when applied evenly over a large area of skin. The effect of retinoids are cummulative depending on the behavior of collagen growth in adjacent skin areas, which means that a single spot will have a much smaller effect than entire areas of skin. It's kind of a Catch-22 in that way.

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I understand what you're saying. So how would you advise me to go about using the Retin-A and TCA peel in conjunction, then? Should I wait a certain amount of time before doing the peel or just go ahead and do it now? The Retin-A isn't really irritating my skin or anything as much as it is drying it out, so I wouldn't be putting the peel on already irritated skin or anything. Also, should a 15% peel be strong enough?

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I understand what you're saying. So how would you advise me to go about using the Retin-A and TCA peel in conjunction, then? Should I wait a certain amount of time before doing the peel or just go ahead and do it now? The Retin-A isn't really irritating my skin or anything as much as it is drying it out, so I wouldn't be putting the peel on already irritated skin or anything. Also, should a 15% peel be strong enough?

I would NOT do them at the same time, that's for sure. Maybe spread applications a week apart.

And I honestly don't know that much about TCA, which is why my knowledge on the length of its effect was a bit iffy. I think there are some older topics in this forum that goes into depth on that, but I honestly am not sure.

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I'll try the peel in about a week after stopping the Retin-A for a few days, then. Thanks for the tips. If anyone else has anything else to contribute then feel free to do so.

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from my experience and reading what doctors on Real Self have to say,

Retin-A helps pigmentation but does nothing for actual scars, since scars are damaged tissue, unlike wrinkles which are undamaged tissue they just need a little boost of collegen which retin-a gives them

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Yes, it certainly does help with the pigmentation because it increases cell turnover.

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Are irritation and skin thinning the primary reasons not to use a TCA peel and Retin-A too closely together? That's what the things I've been seeing so far seem to imply. I was honestly really wanting to use the TCA peel as soon as possible and not have to wait a week but I don't want to risk making matters worse, either.

Edited by -SJ-

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Are irritation and skin thinning the primary reasons not to use a TCA peel and Retin-A too closely together? That's what the things I've been seeing so far seem to imply. I was honestly really wanting to use the TCA peel as soon as possible and not have to wait a week but I don't want to risk making matters worse, either.

I'm honestly not entirely sure what the side effects of their interaction will be.

All I am sure of is what topical retinoids, and what they do is thin the episdermis but thicken the dermis. This, overall, makes your skin more sensitive, and it actually takes a day or two for the sensitivity side effects to kick in,.

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Well, a little over a week later and I've been doing the TCA peel after laying off Retin-A for a few days (even though I've been reading that you don't really have to do that with the lower strength TCA peels like I'm using). My skin is definitely peeling more than it would when I was just using the TCA peel by itself and the fresh pink skin underneath is showing. But some of the indented scars seem to still be there so I may try a TCA Cross eventually but it won't be for quite a while.

I'm hoping these pink and exposed spots will heal properly. I'm doing my best not to pick at the peeling/scabbing on them but I do have to peel off some of the peeling/healing skin prematurely when I have to go out of the house and such.

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TCA peel? Whaaa?

Was that a full face peel? I've never heard of a TCA peel, I've heard of TCA cross being used to cause injury to scarred tissue to stimulate collagen growth, but I've never heard of a straight-up peel.

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Well, a little over a week later and I've been doing the TCA peel after laying off Retin-A for a few days (even though I've been reading that you don't really have to do that with the lower strength TCA peels like I'm using). My skin is definitely peeling more than it would when I was just using the TCA peel by itself and the fresh pink skin underneath is showing. But some of the indented scars seem to still be there so I may try a TCA Cross eventually but it won't be for quite a while.

I'm hoping these pink and exposed spots will heal properly. I'm doing my best not to pick at the peeling/scabbing on them but I do have to peel off some of the peeling/healing skin prematurely when I have to go out of the house and such.

Im not expert on TCA, but i think TCA is only effective if you use a high strength like 100% and spot treat scars. Your Doctor will drop a tiny amount of TCA into the pitted Ice pick Scar

Edited by LZOMG

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TCA peel? Whaaa?

Was that a full face peel? I've never heard of a TCA peel, I've heard of TCA cross being used to cause injury to scarred tissue to stimulate collagen growth, but I've never heard of a straight-up peel.

TCA peels are very common. It's not like Cross where a high concentration of acid is placed inside the scar to plump it up. With cross, it's my understanding that you're actually causing an injury to the scar, which causes another layer of scar tissue to form while also promoting collagen growth. It's been a long time since I researched Cross, so my memory could be off on exactly how it works.

I used to do TCA peels. Like any superficial peel, the benefits are not permanent. It's great for treating hyperpigmentation & improving skin texture, but it can also lead to pigmentation issues in certain skin types. For me, I ended up with pretty bad hyperpigmentation & discolored skin. I stopped after 3-4 peels. Like any peel, it peels the top layer, and thins your skin. As your skin ages, any benefits will reverse. If you're looking for a permanent improvement to scars, TCA peels are not going to provide it.

I'm hoping these pink and exposed spots will heal properly. I'm doing my best not to pick at the peeling/scabbing on them but I do have to peel off some of the peeling/healing skin prematurely when I have to go out of the house and such.

You shouldn't have scabs from any superficial peel. Don't apply it to open sores or zits. I wouldn't peel off skin prematurely either. Let it shed on its own. Take hot, steamy showers to help release the dead skin from your face. I understand removing skin that's literally hanging but don't try to peel it prematurely. You're trying to improve your skin, not cause more damage. If you do cause damage by treating zits with TCA or prematurely peeling your skin, you probably won't see the damage immediately.

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TCA peel? Whaaa?

Was that a full face peel? I've never heard of a TCA peel, I've heard of TCA cross being used to cause injury to scarred tissue to stimulate collagen growth, but I've never heard of a straight-up peel.

TCA peels are very common. It's not like Cross where a high concentration of acid is placed inside the scar to plump it up. With cross, it's my understanding that you're actually causing an injury to the scar, which causes another layer of scar tissue to form while also promoting collagen growth. It's been a long time since I researched Cross, so my memory could be off on exactly how it works.

I used to do TCA peels. Like any superficial peel, the benefits are not permanent. It's great for treating hyperpigmentation & improving skin texture, but it can also lead to pigmentation issues in certain skin types. For me, I ended up with pretty bad hyperpigmentation & discolored skin. I stopped after 3-4 peels. Like any peel, it peels the top layer, and thins your skin. As your skin ages, any benefits will reverse. If you're looking for a permanent improvement to scars, TCA peels are not going to provide it.

I'm hoping these pink and exposed spots will heal properly. I'm doing my best not to pick at the peeling/scabbing on them but I do have to peel off some of the peeling/healing skin prematurely when I have to go out of the house and such.

You shouldn't have scabs from any superficial peel. Don't apply it to open sores or zits. I wouldn't peel off skin prematurely either. Let it shed on its own. Take hot, steamy showers to help release the dead skin from your face. I understand removing skin that's literally hanging but don't try to peel it prematurely. You're trying to improve your skin, not cause more damage. If you do cause damage by treating zits with TCA or prematurely peeling your skin, you probably won't see the damage immediately.

I'll keep this in mind then.Thanks.

But you said that superficial TCA peels won't have any long term effects on scars...what about superficial TCA peels used in conjunction with Retin-A?

@ LZOMG - Yeah, I'm really tempted to go with a stronger peel but I just don't want to cause any more skin damage since they can be dangerous if used improperly. I definitely DON'T want to go 100% if I can avoid it. Maybe like a 25% or so, but I'm hoping I don't have to go any higher than that.

Edited by -SJ-

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TCA cross is very dangerous, I think you should let a professional do it for you isntead of doing it your self.

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Was your Retin-a perscribed by a doctor? I get the impression that you're determined to treat this without seeking proper professional help. I think you will regret it, if you try a 25% or 100% TCA at home & combine it with Retin-a. You're not being logical here. DRaGZ already explained to you why topicals don't have any real effect on reconstructing scars. It's the same with superficial peels. With 25%, you risk damage, especially if you're buying poor quality TCA off the Internet and mixing it with a topical that's already peeling your skin. In order to trigger chemical construction, I believe you need 65% TCA at minimum. Cross is risky. Some people start at the lowest level and work up to 100% if their skin doesn't respond to lower strength TCA. You really should see a doctor about this, and get an opinion from someone qualified to treat your scars. Without pictures, we don't even know what you're trying to fix, and even if there were pictures, we are not qualified to give you proper advice. We can give you opinions on our experiences & personal knowledge, but ultimately, you should seek professional opinions on how to effectively treat your scars. Don't be silly and do something you'll regret.

Edited by TokyoGirl

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No, the Retin-A is a generic that I bought online but it got good reviews and I used doctor presccribed Retin-A years ago and it seems to be doing the same thing....and yes, I AM determined to treat my scars without professional help for two reasons. Firstly, I'm not working at the moment and don't have any insurance...and even if I did this type of treatment would be considered as cosmetic and it wouldn't be covered so I'd have to pay out of pocket which I just can't swing right now. Secondly, I actually did get laser scar revision on some old acne scars in the same area as my current scars several years back and it did nothing to help the scarring and I was out of hundreds of dollars for nothing, basically.

So it's not just me being reckless and "silly", it's that at the moment going to a professional really isn't in the budget until I start working again. Plus I'm leery about going back to a professional anyway after my previous experience and how uncertain they seemed about the type of scars I had and how to go about treating them.

DraGZ also mentioned that with Retin-A and a TCA peel TOGETHER I'd have a better chance of seeing noticeable results, too.

I'm going to let the skin heal from the peel and consider going with a higher strength but not doing the TCA Cross. The scars are localized on my cheeks and not spread out widely nor are they extremely horrible, but I do want to get them taken care of without seeing a professional again at the moment if possible.

Edited by -SJ-

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No, the Retin-A is a generic that I bought online but it got good reviews and I used doctor presccribed Retin-A years ago and it seems to be doing the same thing....and yes, I AM determined to treat my scars without professional help for two reasons. Firstly, I'm not working at the moment and don't have any insurance...and even if I did this type of treatment would be considered as cosmetic and it wouldn't be covered so I'd have to pay out of pocket which I just can't swing right now. Secondly, I actually did get laser scar revision on some old acne scars in the same area as my current scars several years back and it did nothing to help the scarring and I was out of hundreds of dollars for nothing, basically.

So it's not just me being reckless and "silly", it's that at the moment going to a professional really isn't in the budget until I start working again. Plus I'm leery about going back to a professional anyway after my previous experience and how uncertain they seemed about the type of scars I had and how to go about treating them.

DraGZ also mentioned that with Retin-A and a TCA peel TOGETHER I'd have a better chance of seeing noticeable results, too.

I'm going to let the skin heal from the peel and consider going with a higher strength but not doing the TCA Cross. The scars are localized on my cheeks and not spread out widely nor are they extremely horrible, but I do want to get them taken care of without seeing a professional again at the moment if possible.

Don't take my word on anything involving TCA, though. I don't know that much about TCA, heck, I didn't even know a TCA peel existed. I am far from bein a qualified professional for commenting on what sort of acne scar treatment you should take.

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No, the Retin-A is a generic that I bought online but it got good reviews and I used doctor presccribed Retin-A years ago and it seems to be doing the same thing....and yes, I AM determined to treat my scars without professional help for two reasons. Firstly, I'm not working at the moment and don't have any insurance...and even if I did this type of treatment would be considered as cosmetic and it wouldn't be covered so I'd have to pay out of pocket which I just can't swing right now. Secondly, I actually did get laser scar revision on some old acne scars in the same area as my current scars several years back and it did nothing to help the scarring and I was out of hundreds of dollars for nothing, basically.

So it's not just me being reckless and "silly", it's that at the moment going to a professional really isn't in the budget until I start working again. Plus I'm leery about going back to a professional anyway after my previous experience and how uncertain they seemed about the type of scars I had and how to go about treating them.

DraGZ also mentioned that with Retin-A and a TCA peel TOGETHER I'd have a better chance of seeing noticeable results, too.

I'm going to let the skin heal from the peel and consider going with a higher strength but not doing the TCA Cross. The scars are localized on my cheeks and not spread out widely nor are they extremely horrible, but I do want to get them taken care of without seeing a professional again at the moment if possible.

Don't take my word on anything involving TCA, though. I don't know that much about TCA, heck, I didn't even know a TCA peel existed. I am far from bein a qualified professional for commenting on what sort of acne scar treatment you should take.

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DraGZ also mentioned that with Retin-A and a TCA peel TOGETHER I'd have a better chance of seeing noticeable results, too.

DRaGZ also said this afterwards:

TCA peel? Whaaa?

Was that a full face peel? I've never heard of a TCA peel, I've heard of TCA cross being used to cause injury to scarred tissue to stimulate collagen growth, but I've never heard of a straight-up peel.

You're getting opinions from strangers off the Internet. I am only encouraging to seek professional help because I've done everything you're currently doing already. I've caused additional scarring. I've overdone peels that I purchased off the Internet. There's no reason to be defensive. We're all on this board for the same reason. Just be careful.

Edited by TokyoGirl

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