Microneedling or micro-needling is a process that involves using needles to puncture hundreds of tiny holes in the skin
It may seem like the newest trend in beauty skincare, but it’s actually been around and evolving for over 50 years!
Fans of the microneedle claim it treats everything from wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and dull skin to issues such as scars, stretch marks, and cellulite – although results are still dubious on that last one.
However, in a 2009 study, 37 patients underwent microneedling procedures to treat atrophic facial scars (those sunken scars that result from acne, chicken pox, etc.).
After several professional treatments, over 80% of the patients saw a reduction in scarring and rated their treatment as “excellent”.
Microneedling and Dermarolling
What could possibly be the benefits of microneedling?
Microneedling, also called Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), involves using a tool called a dermapen with tiny needles at the end that make little holes or needle pricks in the top layers of skin.
Another method of microneedling uses a dermaroller which looks like a miniature paint roller with lots of tiny needles that is gently rolled in different directions over the surface of skin to achieve the same effect.
Royal Derma Roller
The purpose of this procedure is twofold:
1. The little holes from the needles create “micro channels” that allow skincare products, such as potent serums, to penetrate and absorb into the deeper layers of skin to deliver more powerful results.
2. These tiny pinpricks act as a bunch of mini injuries which kick skin into healing mode and stimulates collagen and elastin production. This process plumps skin and improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars and pores.
A numbing cream is applied to the patient’s skin.
Next, the practitioner will either gently roll a dermaroller over the surface of the skin in a few different directions or use a dermapen to work around areas of the face to create tiny holes in the skin’s surface.
The whole process takes around 20-30 minutes and, while it involves needles in your face, the process is apparently fairly painless.
You can expect some redness for up to a couple days afterward as a result of all the skin stimulation, but it subsides quickly as the healing begins and the results of more glowing, supple skin start to show.
To get truly effective results, you’ll need more than one treatment to continually build collagen and elastin.
As certified esthetician, Claire Gross, explains, “Results are cumulative, just like working out. You’re not tearing your skin down, you’re building it up.”
Are there any risks to microneedling or dermarolling?
The biggest no-no is using the microneedle on active acne because you run the risk of infection. Avoid blemished areas during microneedling or wait until pimples are gone before undergoing the process.
Experts agree that you should not get the procedure done on skin that is inflamed, irritated, if you have rosacea, or are currently experiencing eczema.
Since microneedling can cause your skin to absorb skincare products more deeply, there’s a chance it could react to ingredients differently and become irritated.
You also want to be careful about using products not formulated for use with microneedling.
In a case study from JAMA Dermatology, University of Utah scientists reported 3 cases of women who experienced itching, rashes, and scarring in reaction to using a vitamin C serum with microneedling.
It’s a good idea to do a patch test of any post-microneedling products by applying to a small area and waiting 24 hours to make sure there’s no reaction before using it on larger areas. For sure if you have sensitive skin!
In Office vs. At Home Microneedling
When microneedling is performed at a dermatologist’s office, the needles they use are slightly longer (over 1 mm) and, therefore, are able to penetrate to deeper layers of skin to treat more complex conditions such as scarring or stretch marks.
Since there’s not a ton of scientific evidence studying the effects of at-home dermarollers, the jury is still out on whether they’re good, safe, or effective.
The version you can use at home includes needles that are smaller than 1mm, so they don’t penetrate skin very deeply.
They’re intended more for stimulating skin to reduce wrinkles, get your complexion all glowy, and allow products to possibly penetrate deeper.
The good news? The smaller needles on at-home dermarollers don’t hurt so you don’t need any anesthetic cream to use them.
The bad news is the results won’t be as effective as what you’ll get from a professional dermatologist. Also, if the needles are bent, dull, or not properly maintained, you run the risk of infecting or damaging skin that can lead to scarring.