What is Micro Needling and Is It for Me?
At first glance, the tools may look like some kind of medieval torture device. Don’t freak out! What you are actually looking at are medical dermarollers designed for micro needling, a procedure proven to produce healthier skin.
What is micro needling?
Micro needling is a skincare technique that creates micro-injuries, triggering the body's natural healing process which involves producing more collagen and elastin. The tool is rolled over the face creating hundreds of tiny punctures in the skin. These “injuries” heal quickly, and the damaged area is replaced with new healthy skin.
Interestingly, this procedure has been around since 1905. It was invented by a German dermatologist named Ernest Kromayer. He experimented with various sized dental burs to treat birthmarks, scars, and hyperpigmentation. The micro needling we see today has come a long way since then. Modern micro needling was developed in 1995, by Dr. Desmond Fernandes in Philadelphia. He developed a small needle stamp which has evolved into the rollers we use now.
A standard dermaroller has 192 needles, each needle is only 0.5 to 3 mm in length and 0.1-0.25 mm in diameter. The needles only puncture the stratum corneum (outer layer of the epidermis) and do not cause significant damage. The dermaroller is passed over the skin around 15 times to achieve the desired effects. Scar tissues are broken down and new growth is stimulated.
In one study from 2016, skin treated with micro needling (4 sessions, each one month apart) showed up to a 400% increase in collagen and elastin 6 months after the procedure. The study concluded that micro needling improves the appearance of scars, burns, alopecia, hyperpigmentation, stretch marks, rosacea and eczema.
Micro needling is most commonly used to treat the appearance of acne scars. Another study from 2009, showed significant reduction of scaring in 94% of participants. If you suffer from acne scars, you know just how painful they are not only physically but mentally as well. Micro needling just might be the solution you are searching for to restore not only your skin but your confidence as well.
What is Micro Needling: The Procedure
A typical micro needling procedure takes a little over an hour depending on the size of the area being treated. The treatment is known to be slightly uncomfortable but not painful. It follows these simple steps:
Step 1: A topical anesthesia is applied and takes 30 minutes to an hour to take effect. This crucial step ensures that you don’t feel all of the tiny needles stabbing your face.
Step 2: The skin is prepped with an antiseptic, to make sure the skin does not get infected.
Step 3: The derma roller is run over the skin 5 times each in the horizontal, vertical, and oblique directions. This step takes around 10 to 20 minutes. There will be uniform bleeding over the area which is easily controlled and stopped.
Step 4: Ice packs or saline are applied to the skin to reduce swelling.
There are a few other variables to keep in mind before and after your micro needling appointment. Prior to the procedure, it is recommended to stay away from harsh exfoliants such as retinol and intense sun exposure for at least 48 hours. Harsh products and sunlight can aggravate and weaken the skin.
You should arrive at your appointment with a clean, dry face free of any products or makeup. After the procedure, there may be slight redness and swelling for up to 2 to 3 days. Again it is recommended to stay away from direct sunlight and exfoliants for the following few days as your skin is in the healing process.
The final results will not be visible immediately because new collagen will continually form over the following 3-6 months. However, there will be a noticeable improvement in your skin's appearance as soon as the next day.
What is micro needling used for?
Micro needling is used for many skin conditions including:
- Acne scars
- Dark spots/ hyperpigmentation
- Large pores
- Reduced elasticity
- Sun damage
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Stretch marks
While you can perform this procedure at home, it is recommended that you see a professional to ensure that the tools used are sterile and you do not damage your skin.
What is Micro Needling: Benefits
Not only is this procedure done on the face, but it can also be done on any part of the body like the legs or stomach. For any area with scar tissue, micro needling is a viable option to improve the appearance of the skin.
Post-treatment, topical products will be able to more deeply penetrate your skin. Cleansers and moisturizers have been shown to be more effective after a micro needling treatment. The possible negative side effects are temporary redness and itchiness which can be easily managed and are shown not to persist very long after the procedure. Overall, the data reflecting positive outcomes is overwhelming when it comes to micro needling.
Micro needling is clinically proven to improve the overall appearance of your skin. Due to the fact that it induces new collagen growth, it can remediate problems ranging from fine lines to severe scarring. Micro needling is also a significantly cheaper option compared to more intensive procedures like laser and botox. While not for everyone, it may be worth researching further and asking your doctor about.
Written by Kiana St Onge