Some beauty trends seem to embody the essence of the saying "beauty is pain," including the popular practice of microneedling, which involves rolling needles over your face for the sake of a smoother complexion. Although it may sound intimidating, when done properly, this process is completely painless and, according to dermatologists, can be quite effective.
What is microneedling?
Microneedling, also called dermarolling and referred to in dermatology as collagen induction therapy, is a procedure that consists of rolling tiny needles over the skin. The procedure causes a wound response which stimulates collagen production, the natural repairing mechanism of the skin.
What are the benefits of microneedling?
Increased Collagen Production
The most popular claim made for microneedling is that it boosts collagen production. Collagen is a protein found in the body that is responsible for keeping the skin smooth, firm and plump. As collagen levels in the body lower with age, skin tends to lose its elasticity, and microneedling is one effective way to counteract this phenomenon.
Of the various ways to promote healthy collagen production, microneedling is considered one of the safest and requires the shortest recovery time following the procedure (2-3 days for medical needling). A study provided evidence that multiple microneedling sessions increased collagen production in the skin of the ten patients involved in the study "producing noticeable clinical improvement of photo-aged skin."
Reduced Appearance of Scars
There's also evidence to support the claim that microneedling is a simple and effective way to treat facial scars, such as atrophic scars, which cause the skin to sink in due to collagen damage. Examples of atrophic scars are those caused by acne breakouts, chickenpox and surgeries. A 2009 study suggested that microneedling effectively improves the appearance of atrophic scars by promoting collagen production. Another study conduced in Italy between 2007 and 2008 confirmed the efficacy of skin needling for treating acne scars, reducing the severity grade of the patients' scars in only two sessions.
Improved Product Absorption
One claim that will ignite the interest of every skincare fanatic like myself is that microneedling enhances product absorption, allowing your skin to receive more benefits from your products.
Can (and should) you practice microneedling at home?
Microneedling is generally safer than other resurfacing treatments, as it does not involve the removal of a skin layer (such as with deep peels or lasers). The results, however, differ significantly based on the type of derma roller used. Medical professionals can perform medical and surgical microneedling, while at-home derma rollers can only perform cosmetic microneedling. Let's compare the options.
Cosmetic needling, the type that can be done at home or performed by a licensed esthetician to promote better product absorption and that affects only the epidermis, uses needles that range between 0.1 mm to 0.3 mm. This procedure may also improve the appearance of fine lines in the long term.
Medical needling, which is used to boost collagen production in order to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, employs needles that range between 0.5 and 1.5 mm and affects the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis.
Surgical needling uses needles that are between 1.5 and 3 mm in size, and it should be performed exclusively by a medical professional.
Aside from the differences in cost, derma rollers for at-home use cost under $30, while a professional treatment can cost around $300, it's important to consider that at-home microneedling cannot give the same results as medical or surgical needling.
Beware of the claims found on the packaging of some derma rollers on the market. The FDA has already warned several companies for making medical claims that are not substantiated by evidence, especially for derma rollers with needles that are less than 0.3 mm. Such devices can only provide cosmetic needling results (promoting micro exfoliation, better product absorption), but cannot provide medical needling results, such as fading scars, improving the appearance of fine lines, reducing photodamaged skin.
How to Do Microneedling at Home
If you decide to try microneedling at home, you should follow these instructions:
- Choose a derma roller with needles between 0.1 and 0.3 mm.
- Do not use the derma roller if its packaging is damaged. It should be properly sealed.
- If you have an active infection or if you have or are prone to abnormal scarring, you should not perform derma rolling.
- Cleanse your face.
- Begin to roll your derma roller on each section of your face. Roll horizontally, vertically and diagonally across each section 2-3 times. Apply mild pressure; it should not cause any pain.
- Apply your skincare treatments, such as toner and serum.
- After the first use, you should sanitize your roller with 91% alcohol or with a roller sterilizer.
If irritation develops discontinue the use of the derma roller immediately and consult your physician.
For hygienic reasons, and to ensure that the process continues to be effective, you should replace your derma roller every month. Do not share your derma roller with anyone.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is for information purpose only. Consult a medical professional to determine if this procedure is safe for your skin.