Microneedling is a minimally invasive treatment that uses very small needles to create hundreds of tiny, invisible puncture wounds in the top layer of skin. This is also referred to as Collagen Induction Therapy because the micro-injuries created work to stimulate the body’s natural wound healing processes, resulting in cell turnover and increased collagen and elastin production. Along with producing collagen and reversing and preventing signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, microneedling benefits include more even skin tone and texture, improvement of scars and stretch marks, and even stimulation of hair growth.
Microneedling, whether it’s done in an aesthetic practice by a trained professional using a device like a Dermapen or even at home using a dermaroller (more on this later), is both virtually painless and incredibly effective. It has many of the same benefits that lasers do, the main difference is that you are creating injuries to the skin mechanically instead of using light or heat. Microneedling is becoming an increasingly popular anti-aging treatment due to the many benefits, minimal downtime and relatively low cost compared to other options, like lasers.
When you come in for a professional microneedling treatment, a topical anesthetic is first applied to the skin to minimize any discomfort. Once the topical anesthetic has taken full effect, a microneedling device, such as a Dermapen, is used to create the controlled micro-injuries in the skin.
For the best microneedling results, targeted serums or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can be used during the microneedling treatment. The serum or PRP helps the device to glide along the skin, giving you a more comfortable experience and even results. The microneedling also allows the product or PRP to penetrate deeper into the skin, adding to the benefits of the treatment.
The whole process of microneedling by a professional takes about 20 to 30 minutes. It’s normal to experience some redness and puffiness after this skin stimulating treatment that can last up to a couple of days after. Most people will see improvement in their skin within 48 to 72 hours after treatment.
The downtime for microneedling is minimal. Most patients feel comfortable returning to normal activity the following day, or even the same day of the treatment. Some patients might have redness and a sensation that resembles having a sunburn for the first 24 hrs.
As we age we lose collagen, which causes more wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin to occur. Microneedling is also referred to as collagen induction therapy due to its ability to stimulate the production of more collagen and elastin. This creates tighter skin, a more youthful complexion, and helps to reduce the appearance of the signs of aging in your skin. Regular treatments can also prevent new lines and wrinkles from forming.
Scarring – Microneedling is a great, natural way to improve scarring. Scars resulting from acne or chicken pox are usually atrophic, meaning they are indented in the skin. These types of scars form below the upper layer of skin tissue leaving behind uneven texture in shapes. These are also referred to as ice-pick, rolling and boxcar scars. Microneedling is highly effective in improving this type of scarring by using tiny needles to break down collagen bundles in the top layer of the dermis that cause the uneven scars, while also stimulating the repair process and immediately boosting the production of more collagen at the same time. The result is plumper, more even skin texture with less obvious scarring. Many people feel that microneedling is more effective than other more aggressive treatments used for this type of scarring.
Smaller pores – Even though you are creating many tiny holes in your skin with microneedling, it does not enlarge your pores and actually helps them to appear much smaller. As the microneedling stimulates collagen in and around your pores this causes them to appear smaller, if not closed.
Stretch Marks – The benefits of microneedling are not only for the face. Any area of skin that needs to be repaired can benefit from this type of treatment. It is often done on other areas of the body that have stretch marks or acne scars such as the back, chest, legs, etc. In the same way that it improves scarring, it is also able to improve the appearance of stretch marks, especially with several treatments.
Hyperpigmentation – Collagen plays many roles in the skin and goes way beyond just reducing wrinkles. Because of this, stimulating collagen is arguably one of the best ways to improve the appearance of your skin, including skin tone. The stimulation of collagen growth with microneedling can also reverse sun damage and discoloration. This also includes hyperpigmentation that comes with melasma, a blotchy, brownish facial pigmentation that is caused by fluctuating hormones.
Rosacea – Microneedling treatments can help greatly with controlling the visible symptoms of redness, flushing, and bumpiness associated with Rosacea. Since micronedling works by stimulating collagen production in the dermal layer, it strengthens and thickens both the dermal and epidermal layer. It is this effect that makes the skin more resistant to such triggers. The microneedling procedure can be performed only when the skin is calm, not during an episode of breakouts. Typically, after one session, patients with rosacea will notice a slight difference in their skin tone. However, after several sessions is when patients will notice the real results.
There are devices available that allow you to perform a type of microneedling on yourself in your own home. Dermarollers are less expensive than going to see a professional, however, there are several differences in the types of treatment done in an aesthetic practice and in your own home, including their results.
Dermarollers for home use are basically what they sound like – a device with needles that you can roll on areas you would like to treat. The needles on these devices are much shorter and blunter than those on devices used by medical professionals, like a Dermapen. This is because at-home devices are not meant to penetrate the skin. This means that treatments will not be as uncomfortable, and numbing is not required, however it also means that results from using a Dermaroller are much less than those from a professional treatment with a Dermapen device. To help improve things like acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles, a device with longer needles than on Dermarollers would be needed.
The main purpose of doing microneedling at home would be to help the penetration of your skin care products. It can also help to increase blood flow, which may temporarily brighten the skin.
Other than providing minimal results when compared to professional treatments, a downfall of Dermarollers is that they are difficult to clean. When you use a microneedling device that is not thoroughly cleaned, you increase the risk of injury or infection, especially if the needles penetrate the skin.
The risks are reduced when a professional is handling your care. At RevitalizeMaui, our Medical Director Dr. Emeka Okwuje performs all microneedling procedures. The benefit of having an MD handle the treatment means that any side-effects are reduced or eliminated. Side effects of microneedling can include bleeding, bruising, infection and peeling. If you have certain skin diseases, open wounds, radiation therapy or history of scars, you may not be an ideal candidate for this procedure.