Microneedling was one of the hot topic skincare solutions prior to COVID. We also had the very photogenic vampire facial which is a separate issue that I’ll cover later. Microneedling is different from the vampire facial in that you can do it at home with products bought off Amazon or YesStyle. Microneedling is generally considered a low risk treatment when used alone. But don’t use a chemical exfoliant and then microneedle that chemical exfoliant in, you are setting yourself up for some incredible irritation and damage.
What Is Microneedling Suppose To Do?
The clinical use of microneedling is to boost collagen production, reduce scaring, and help treat several pigmentation skin issues in a highly targeted manner without the use of chemicals. The way this occurs is by create small punctures using very small (less than 1mm) microneedles that induces the wound healing mechanisms.
There are several tools to use, either a dermaroller where the microneedles are rolled across the face (pictured to the right) or the DermaPen(R) which punctures the skin directly in then out. Dermarollers do more damage since the bottom of the needle will swing a little as the roller moves across the face. In this case damage is what you’re trying to do.
Microneedling has also been shown to help increase hair growth in men who had a specific type of hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) including when used with Minoxidil (Rogaine), which you can buy over the counter now in the US.
Microneedling has been shown in several studies to promote scar healing from acne scars. The is the sole purpose for my microneedling. I started 3 months ago and it is a slow but steady process.
How to Microneedle?
First step is to decide Dermapen or Dermaroller. Sanitize with an isopropyl alcohol mist to sanitize the needles if they don’t come from sterile packages. After that you’re ready to use it. Sanitizing is incredibly important. You don’t want to introduce bacteria into your skin. If you have a cover for your dermaroller, always have it on when not in use.
Since the needles are so short they don’t puncture thru all layers of the dermis. If you are bleeding using a dermaroller or dermapen, the needle is too long for your particular skin. Start with the shortest length, typically around 0.2-0.3mm, and move up as your skin becomes accustomed to the treatment. The longest I’ve seen is 2mm and I don’t recommend that for anyone unless under the supervision of a dermatologist.
Dermapen or Dermaroller?
I am personally more of a fan of the Dermapen. It does take longer but it’s easier to target specific areas. It’s rare that someone’s entire face requires microneedling. It also reduces the time spent doing this at home. Dermarollers are cheaper and it’s easier to get ahold of them. Dermarollers are all over Amazon and many beauty stores as well. You don’t need a prescription to get one in the United States.
Dermarollers are quicker. It should take about 2 minutes to do a face if that long. Dermarpen takes me about less than 5 minutes to do mostly because I just take forever doing it.
Dr. Emmy Graber recommends not using these products more than once or twice a week. With everything else I do, I use my Dermapen every two weeks. Its dependent upon how much you do to your skin.
Who should not Microneedle?
Those with moderate to severe acne. Not those who have occasional/hormonal breakouts or a few blackheads and white heads here and there. Although great for acne scaring, microneedling should not be used by those with active acne. It can make skin irritation worse.
Those with rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin issues that result in open sores or dry irritated areas.
Those with thin skin. As we age, skin becomes thinner. Some skin conditions and overuse of some topical medications can result in the thinning of skin. If you aren’t sure, check with your dermatologist to make sure microneedling is appropriate for you.
Long-term Possible Side Effects
I personally worry about scar tissue, especially among those who overuse needling (we’ve all seen it on social media it seems), those who use it too young, where it’s not indicated, use too long of a needle, or don’t clean the device enough. As with any skincare routine, more is not better. There is a happy medium and overuse can cause more harm than good.
POC do need to watch how aggressively they microneedle. This is within a session as well as how often. Too aggressive within a session can result in additional irritation which can lead to hyperpigmentation. For POC, it’s best to tread lightly and go over a longer period of time.
Microneedling is a practice that should be used less frequently than exfoliation.
Review of Applications of Microneedling in Dermatology