If you’ve explored any of the available skincare techniques available, you’ve likely come across micro needling. But even so you may still be wondering what is micro needling and will it work for you. Much like it sounds, the procedure involves using a small device with several tiny needles attached to improve the texture and appearance of the skin, particularly that with excessive acne scarring.
However, it’s not quite as straightforward as it sounds. Understanding the process as well as the specific benefits will help you determine if the treatment is right for you and give you a better idea of what kind of results you can expect from the treatment.
What Is Micro Needling?
Also called micro needling therapy or collagen induction therapy, skin needling is considered a minimally-invasive non-surgical procedure. It is a non-ablative process used to rejuvenate the skin that uses a small device to produce controlled skin injury.
Each needle in the tool punctures the skin as it passes over it, creating a fine channel or micro-wound. The injury signals the body to fill in the micro-wounds with new collagen and elastin. Likewise, new capillaries are formed in the skin. The process leads to the reduction of scars and improved skin texture, firmness, and hydration.
Types of Micro Needling Devices
There are several kinds of skin needling devices with needs of various diameters and lengths. Likewise, different instruments are made with different materials to achieve the desired result.
- Dermarollers look most like a small manual pain rollers and is fixed with a round, rotating cylinder containing up to 200 miniature needles protruding from it. These tools are sold for at-home use, but as they do puncture hundreds of small holes in your skin, it is really best to leave this treatment to a professional.
- Dermapens resemble a pen and have a circular head studded with fine needles. The needles on this device are motor-driven and move in and out of the skin while making thousands of tiny punctures in the desired area. The concentration of needles in a point, such as with a dermapen, is particularly helpful for scarring that has caused indentations in the skin. These tools are mostly used in medical settings; however, they are available for at-home purchase. But again, it is safest to have a professional perform the treatment.
- Dermastamps look similar to dermapens but have slightly larger heads with more needles attached to the head. This tool is used for larger areas of skin. Dermastamps may be motorized or manual, and just like the name indicates, are stamped directly into the skin rather than rolled over it.
- Devices with light emitting diodes (LED) is a tool that combines the process of micro needling with LED. LED light has been found to have many benefits for the skin, but published research about the combination of LED and microneedling does not currently exist.
- Devices with radiofrequency involve the use of a machine that simultaneously penetrates the skin with a needle as well as a radiofrequency current. This combination facilitates heat remodeling at the same time as micro needling. Again research determining what is micro needling and radiofrequency does not yet exist, but it likely will soon.
How Often Should We Repeat the Procedure?
Second to what is micro needling, the most often asked question regarding the procedure is how often. To answer the question, it’s important to truly understand what happens with this process. The procedure creates fractional micro injuries to both the epidermis and dermis. To really see the evidence of the procedure, healing, inflammation, and collagensis need to take place. Collagensis alone peaks at 14 days following treatment, so it is recommended that clients wait 14 to 30 days between a repeated treatment.
Wait time aside, micro needling renders several advantage over other treatments. Regular micro needling facilitates treatment with no heat, yet it stimulates the skin to rejuvenate itself and behave as it was designed to. In all reality, the process transforms the damaged skin cells into machines or repair with no further damage to the cell itself.
The exact frequency and duration of treatment varies depending on the exact prescription of treatment. However, most regimens repeat mild treatments every 2 to 4 weeks while deep treatments for heavy scarring are repeated every 4 to 6 weeks.
What Are the Benefits of Using Micro Needling?
Understanding what is micro needling is of little benefit without also knowing the benefits and what it can be used to treat. Skin needling is effectively used to treat a number of conditions, including:
- Scars, including those caused by acne, surgery, and/or thermal burns;
- Fading stretch marks;
- Fine lines and deep wrinkles;
- Dyspigmentation, such as in melisma;
- Sagging skin.
The procedure has been found effective for treating these issues in a number of ways. Microneedling also offers a variety of benefits, such as:
- Reduced hyperpigmentation and scarring;
- Effective for thin and/or sensitive skin;
- Noninvasive treatment performed in-office;
- Well-tolerated by most skin types;
- Cost-effective treatment option;
- Suitable treatment for areas where other options are unsafe;
- Minimized damage to the epidermis, compared to ablative laser resurfacing;
- Minimal recovery time.
Side Effects of Micro Needling
No explanation of what is micro needling would be complete without a discussion on the potential side effects of the treatment. While micro needling is generally well-tolerated by most skin types, there are a few side effects to be aware of:
- Oozing, swelling, and minor discomfort during the recovery period;
- Skin infection with bacteria or virus;
- Milia, or small cysts where keratin becomes trapped beneath the surface of the skin;
- Acne fare ups.
It is important to discuss the potential side effects with your doctor so you know what to look for and be concerned about post-procedure.
Micro needling is an effective skincare treatment that can have significant benefits on the appearance, texture, and firmness of the skin. But like with most treatments, it is not without its potential side effects. To get the most benefit from the treatment, it is best to work with a trusted professional to determine your plan of treatment, including tools to be used as well as duration of the regimen itself.