Micro-Needling Facial Treatment

How the Derma Roller Could Diminish Your Scars

woman getting microneedling treatment

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Micro-needling, derma-rolling, or the very technical-sounding "collagen induction therapy" (CIT) is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure. Its claims and methods are simultaneously simple, scary, exciting, tempting, and hard to believe. 

What Micro-Needling Is

The treatment uses a small, handheld rolling device which is covered with many tiny, closely-spaced needles. As the device rolls along the skin, the needles pierce the skin with microscopic holes to reach the collagen layer in the dermis. While professional micro-needling is performed in a physician's office, an at-home device called the Derma Roller is also available over the counter.

However, micro-needling is best performed by a trained professional who can diagnose any skin condition that may need treatment, discover areas to be avoided, or decide if micro-needling treatment is inappropriate.

Micro-needling also comes with a warning that it is possible to draw blood and that application of a topical anesthetic cream 30 minutes prior to the procedure is usually recommended to mitigate pain. The results of one study also caution that high-quality equipment must be used, such as the FDA-approved devices used in physicians' offices, as compared to over-the-counter devices that may leave pieces of broken needles behind in the skin if too much pressure is applied. 

How It Works

The idea behind CIT is similar to that of many other non-surgical skin-tightening procedures in that it aims to create a controlled injury underneath 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, and fine lines.

The Pain Factor

Most patients describe the treatment as being only "mildly uncomfortable." The devices are available with different needle lengths, which can also affect the patient's comfort level. In addition, many doctors administer a topical numbing cream before each treatment.

The Benefits

Among micro-needling's claims are the improvement of everything from stretch marks and scars (acne, trauma, and even burn scars) to wrinkles and hair loss. It is also said to be useful in dramatically increasing absorption of topically applied skin preparations. 

Effectiveness of the Treatment

There have been a few scientific studies showing micro-needling to be effective in the treatment of scars, especially when combined with different therapies.

Specifically, vitamin C combined with micro-needling showed improvement with respect to firmness and smoothness of the skin as well as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation when treating acne scars.

In addition, micro-needling and 15% trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel was found to be helpful when treating atrophic scars, especially Grade 2 and even severe scars rated Grades 3 and 4.

Where Micro-Needling Is Available 

Micro-needling is available as a series of treatments in some dermatologists' or facial plastic surgeons' offices, but there are also units available for home use. If you're considering a home unit, try to find a doctor first who offers the treatments in their office.

Your doctor can show you the proper way to safely do the home treatments (if in fact it's recommended at all). They can also help to make sure you don't have any skin conditions that would contraindicate micro-needing.

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Article Sources

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  1. Doddaballapur S. Microneedling With Dermaroller. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2009;2(2):110-1.

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