Find out if it’s possible for a TCA to peel off a melanoma…

You may be wondering if even the thinnest melanoma can be peeled off with a TCA treatment.

“Melanoma will not be affected by peeling since it’s within the second layer of the skin (dermis), and it would have to be surgically removed,” says Allen Gabriel, MD, board certified plastic surgeon with PeaceHealth Medical Group Plastic Surgery in Vancouver, WA.

But what about very early (superficial spreading) melanoma in the top layer of skin?

“Melanocytes reside between the basal layer of epidermis and superficial layer of dermis,” explains Dr. Gabriel.

“A peel [TCA] should never go that deep; otherwise, would cause a second-degree burn with exposed dermis.

“Peels take off the stratum corneum and maybe the second layer, but not any deeper (at least TCA used appropriately).  So someone with melanoma, you can still see it after the peel.”

If you had brown spots prior to a TCA peel, and they’re still there, these aren’t necessarily melanoma.

Dr. Gabriel explains, “The brown spots (sun spots) are dead keratinocytes [a particular type of cell] that have the melanin pigment trapped in them.”

Simply put, the TCA procedure will not “peel off” a melanoma.

The cells of this cancer are pretty tough and will not budge from a cosmetic treatment.


If you suspect you might have a melanoma or other skin cancer on your face (or anywhere, for that matter), you should hold off on any TCA procedure and instead have your dermatologist inspect the suspicious spot.

Your doctor may decide to remove the spot and have it biopsied.

A complete removal includes the underside of the suspected melanoma, not just the portion that you can see.

Even if it’s removed strictly for cosmetic purposes, it still should undergo a biopsy — just to play safe!

Dr. Gabriel is adept at addressing a wide range of concerns, from breast reconstruction after mastectomy and the treatment of congenital anomalies, to complex facial and breast surgeries performed solely for cosmetic improvement.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.