Microneedling is a treatment for wrinkles, sun damage, pigmentation, scarring and stretch marks. A small hand-held device is used to create thousands of tiny injuries to the skin with surgical needles that promote skin repair from the inside out.
Microneedling stimulates elastin and collagen production in the skin without causing visible damage using different sized needles, and treatment of different depth is used depending on the area and indication.
Does microneedling work?
Microneedling is supported by clinical studies to be effective in non-surgical and non-ablative treatment for a variety of skin conditions. These include aging, (wrinkles, fine lines, and stretch marks), scarring (acne and surgical), as well as cellulite and hyperpigmentation.
Studies have also shown that microneedling is often a more effective treatment than dermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser resurfacing. It is proven to be just as effective in their ability to stimulate collagen and elastin production. Regular use of microneedling can thicken skin, smooth scars of all sizes, and erase wrinkles.
It is possible to do skin needling at home, but rollers sold for home use have the shortest needle lengths and therefore cannot produce the same benefits as practitioner-only microneedling. It is crucial to make sure that both the skin and the device are properly cleansed with antiseptic solution to avoid the risks infection.
What are the contraindications?
Microneedling is a very safe treatment, but it is not recommended if you have any of the following:
- Any active infection near the site, or are feeling unwell in any way
- History of abnormal scarring (such as keloid)
- Loose skin (if treating stretch marks)
- A poorly controlled medical condition
- Allergic reactions to local anaesthetic
- Bleeding disorders or autoimmune disease
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Are taking steroids
- Are taking medicines that affect bleeding, such as aspirin or warfarin
Injections to the face can trigger the cold sore virus, so you should advise your clinician if you are a sufferer.
Is it painful?
Microneedling is described by most patients as uncomfortable rather than painful. The newest types of derma pens cause the least discomfort as they deliver treatment extremely quickly using vibration.
What does the procedure involve?
Your practitioner will use a topical anaesthetic to numb the skin to make the procedure more comfortable. It will normally take up to 30 minutes for the topical anaesthetic to work and 20 to 30 minutes for the treatment.
Many people find topical ice packs sufficient before treatments, especially for non-facial areas. If a roller is used (rather than a pen), it is repeatedly rolled over the skin to produce thousands of micro medical needle columns in the skin. Each column penetrates into the dermis of the skin and is approximately 0.1mm in width. The column will close rapidly, enabling the skin to recover quickly – often in the same day. The treated skin will show micro bleeding, the desired end point of the treatment.
What are the after-effects?
After a microneedling treatment your body will start to naturally regenerate and repair the skin, working below the surface in the dermis. This takes time as new collagen is formed, new skin cells are generated and blood supply is enhanced. It can take up to six weeks before visible signs of regeneration and repair are seen and the process will continue over the following months, providing you with a natural and long-lasting enhancement.
Your skin may sting after treatment and some redness will remain for a couple of days. You will be advised to apply sunscreen regularly and avoid extremes of heat and cold, exposure to the sun, saunas, sun beds and vigorous exercise for 48 hours.
How many treatments are required?
Your practitioner will recommend the number of microneedling treatments required to achieve the desired results. Treatment consists of a series of microneedling procedures with approximately six weeks between them. Commonly three to four treatments are required.
In the treatment of stretch marks, acne scars and other types of scarring, up to six procedures may be necessary and combination treatments are often recommended for effectiveness, using radiofrequency therapy for example.