An Overview of Microneedling Treatment

This minimally invasive procedure could improve skin's appearance

woman getting microneedling treatment

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Microneedling, also known as dermarolling or collagen induction therapy (CIT), is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that uses hundreds of tiny needles to penetrate the skin in an effort to spur improvement of several chronic dermatologic problems.

Microneedling aims to create a controlled injury just beneath the skin's surface, thereby inducing the body to respond by producing more collagen in the treated area. The skin plumps and thickens in response to the stimulus, reducing the appearance of scars, stretch marks, fine lines/wrinkles, and more.

How It Works

The treatment uses a small rolling device covered with hundreds of tiny (0.5 to 1.5 millimeters long), closely-spaced needles. As the device rolls along the skin, the needles pierce thousands of microscopic holes just deep enough to reach the collagen layer in the dermis.

The damage is minimal but enough to trigger a cascade inflammatory effect that produces healing growth factors in the skin, stimulating the production of collagen and elastin that rejuvenates the area.

Procedure

Microneedling is best performed in a doctor's office by a trained professional who can diagnose any skin condition that may need treatment, determine if the procedure is appropriate for you, and recognize areas to be avoided. Sterile, FDA-approved equipment should be used.

The treatment generally takes minutes, but length of a session varies depending on the size of the area being treated.

Your doctor will administer a topical anesthetic cream 30 minutes before the procedure to minimize pain. It is possible that the needles may draw blood, but it's usually minimal.

Radiofrequency Microneedling

This is a newer development in the procedure that adds radiofrequency (electromagnetic radiation) to the needle penetration, heating the depths of the dermis and promoting collagen repair.

Studies have shown it to be as effective or better than regular microneedling for the same skin conditions. Your dermatologist or plastic surgeon can tell you if this option is available and whether or not it is a preferable treatment for you.

What About DIY Microneedling?

Microneedling devices are available at health and wellness retailers for personal use. They are inexpensive ($10 and up; Dermaroller is one brand), which adds to their appeal. While some may be useful, it's impossible to predict the quality of a device. In addition, if you perform microneedling yourself, you run the risk of using the roller incorrectly, needles coming off and remaining in your skin, infection, and inconsistent results.

Effectiveness

Science has shown that microneedling can achieve positive molecular changes in the skin (dermal remodeling) and that total healing from a procedure usually happens within five days.

Meanwhile, research has shown the procedure to be safe and effective for the following skin issues:

  • Wrinkles: A 2018 study found four microneedling treatments spaced out every 30 days to improve wrinkles, skin laxity, and skin texture.
  • Scars: Positive results have been seen with atrophic (indented) scars from acne or chickenpox, hypertrophic (raised) scars, and keloid (raised and larger than original wound) scars.
  • Stretch marks (striae distensae): A 2019 review of seven studies found microneedling to be effective in improving stretch marks.
  • Patchy hair loss (alopecia): Microneedling used along with drugs like minoxidil has been shown to yield more substantial hair growth than using minoxidil alone.
  • Gray or brown skin patches (melasma): One review of 22 melasma cases treated with microneedling showed improvement in all cases.
  • Absorption of topical skin applications: Microneedling can help enhance skin-based drug delivery.

Microneedling has been shown effective treating people of all skin colors.

A Word From Verywell

Microneedling is available as a series of treatments in some dermatologists' or facial plastic surgeons' offices. If you're considering a home unit, first consult with a doctor who can show you the proper way to safely do the home treatments (or if it's even recommended). They can also ensure you don't have any skin conditions that would contraindicate microneedling.

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Article Sources
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