What Is Microneedling?
Microneedling therapy, also known as skin needling, collagen induction therapy (CIT), or percutaneous collagen induction (PCI), is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that helps rejuvenate the skin and minimize the appearance of scars and imperfections.
Dozens, and in some cases hundreds, of tiny needles are pressed against the skin, painlessly piercing its outermost layers. This method of “controlled injury” forces the skin to react by thickening and producing more collagen, the skin's principle “stretchiness” protein.
This increase in collagen production smooths the skin's texture, filling in fine lines and plumping the skin.
Several different devices and needle lengths can be used to perform the actual treatment, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. That said, regardless of the specific device you select, the technique essentially remains the same.
The Benefits of Microneedling
As Scientist discovered, creating tiny, controlled puncture wounds in the skin causes the body to respond by producing new collagen and elastin protein. Basically, the objective is to deceive your body into thinking it's been wounded, which results in a thickening and overall improvement of the skin's texture and appearance.
Although microneedling is most often used on the skin of the face, it can be used elsewhere on the body as well, namely to treat loose skin after pregnancy. In fact, microneedling can be used on the abdomen, buttocks, love handles, inner thighs and arms, as well as the back of the thighs.
After treating these areas you should notice the following benefits:
Microneedling can also be used to Double Vitamin C Brightening Serum that pass through the layers of skin.
Some Important Advice
Even though the treatment is extremely safe, in order to achieve the best results there are still a few things anyone hoping to perform microneedling themselves should keep in mind.
Directly after your treatment, you may look like you spent too much time in the sun and earned yourself a moderate to severe sunburn. Your skin might also feel warmer and tighter than usual.
These are normal side effects of the procedure that fade after an hour or two, and completely disappear within 24 hours. There might still be some minimal redness in spots after that, but even that will fade within a few days. The deepest needles might also cause some minor bleeding, swelling or bruising.
Within the first day or two you'll likely notice your skin starting to flake and peel. This is due to the treatment speeding up your skin cells' turnover rate, which is how quickly the dead cells are replaced by new cells.
Peeling usually lasts about a week, during which time you can use your normal skin moisturizer. Be sure to follow any additional instructions given to you by your doctor.
If your medical professional used a rolling device around your eyes, you might notice some micro-bruising in that area. This is normal and usually fades within 3 or 4 days. In the meantime, it’s easily covered up with your normal makeup.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind.
Microneedling Results: What to Expect
Despite some initial redness and possible swelling, immediately after your treatment your skin should already look and feel tighter and refreshed. You might even see a slight plumping effect on your skin as soon as the swelling goes away.
Assuming your treatment involved needles of the appropriate length, your skin should start to increase its collagen production some 48 to 72 hours after your procedure.
Despite this increase, most patients don't see real, noticeable results for at least 1 to 4 weeks after their first treatment. Full results from the first treatment can take as long as 2 months to appear.
While several treatments are usually required, you'll likely see scar tissue shrink and a reduction of UV damaged skin, dark spots, and stretch marks after only one treatment. You may also see improvements in the texture of your skin as it grows thicker, firmer and healthier overall.
The new collagen that is produced will remain for a few years, making microneedling a treatment with excellent longevity, especially considering how simple it is. Of course, the effects of aging and sun exposure will still eventually take their toll, and at some point you’ll likely seek future treatments as part of your regular skin maintenance plan.
What can I expect after a Microneedling procedure?
The skin will be flushed, similar to a mild to moderate sunburn, for 12hrs to 3 days. You may also experience mild swelling, dryness, and tightness. Side effects are temporary and typically resolve within 3 days. Total healing time depends on the depth of the treatment, skin type, and skin condition. Some patients may heal completely in 24 hrs. Double Vitamin C Brightening Serum will be used after the treatment to heal and protect the skin with a zinc based sunblock. A mineral makeup is recommended for use after the procedure.
Day of Procedure: After your procedure, your medical provider may apply topical to soothe, hydrate, and protect the treatment area. Do not apply makeup the same day of treatment. Use tepid water to cleanse the treatment area thoroughly while gently massaging to remove debris. Carefully pat dry, without rubbing.
Day 1-3: The next day, you may clean your face with a gentle cleanser and apply Double Vitamin C Brightening Serum. Be sure to apply sunscreen and avoid direct sun exposure. Do not apply chemical based and/or fragranced cosmetics, skin care products, or makeup.
Day 4-7: Within the week following your micro-needling procedure, you will notice skin dryness and flaking. This is due to an increased turnover of skin cells. During this period, you may apply your regular skin moisturizer, sunscreen, and/or makeup (if necessary).
Slight micro-bruising might appear around the eye area and may exist for three to four days. This can easily be covered with makeup.
Patients typically notice an immediate glow, but visible improvement will take about 2-4 weeks and can continue for up to 6 months.
A series of 3 treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart is ideal for optimal results. Deep wrinkles, advanced photo-aging, stretch marks and acne scars will need a minimum of 8 treatments.
Not suitable for patients who:
How much does microneedling cost?
The final cost of your professional microneedling treatment will be dependent on your unique needs and goals.
Many clinics offer a free initial consultation, during which your personalized treatment plan will be put together and the pricing discussed.
Speaking in general terms, you can expect a single session to cost anywhere between $300 and $500. Most patients require 3 to 5 sessions, however, many clinics offer discounts for patients purchasing multiple sessions.
On the other hand, some people prefer to perform microneedling on themselves, rather than pay a professional. While this limits some of the benefits of microneedling, it also considerably lowers the price. The price of home microneedling systems vary considerably, with the most basic rollers starting at $20, while other portable RF microneedling kits can cost as much as $600.
The advantage with a home system is that you only make a costly investment once, then simply buy replacement needles as you need them. However, the results may not be as dramatic as what you would get from a professional.
How common are post-treatment infections?
Though the possibility exists, infections after microneedling are very rare. This is because even though there will be dozens, if not hundreds, of tiny little holes all over your face, they're so small that they usually close up in less than an hour. You should still follow hygienic practices after your treatment, though.
What's the difference between a chemical peel and microneedling?
The simple fact is that these two treatments are about as different as two skincare treatments can get, while providing similar results. Yes, both are non-surgical and designed to improve your complexion, but that’s where the similarities end.
A chemical peel acts as an exfoliant, physically removing the outermost layer of skin. This in turn encourages the lower layer to come to the surface, resulting in smoother, more evenly toned and all around better looking skin.
Chemical peels come in a variety of strenghts, the strongest of which can penetrate remarkably deep into the lower layers of skin. While this treatment can also promote an increase in collagen production, just like microneedling, certain deeper chemical peels can be quite invasive, irritating the skin, and have a much longer recovery time.
On the other hand, there's virtually no downtime after even the deepest of microneedling treatments. Microneedling merely pierces through the outermost layer of skin, rather than remove it entirely. This means microneedling carries a significantly lower risk of infection.
Both treatments are highly effective. A candid discussion with a board-certified medical professional will help you to decide the best approach for your specific cosmetic goals.
Should I use a chemical peel or microneedling for my large pores?
There are a number of different strength chemical peels that are quite effective at exfoliating the skin. Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and medical grade peels like a TCA peel all help to unclog pores and remove extra oil, dirt, and other debris.
Of course, the downside to using a chemical peel to treat your pores is the sometimes lengthy downtime and recovery period that can come with deeper peels.
Microneedling, on the other hand, is also an effective treatment to improve skin texture and pore size, without any real downtime to speak of. Without needing to remove entire layers of it, microneedling will also stimulate your skin so it starts producing more collagen. This in turn gives your skin more structure and elasticity, helping large pores look much smaller and less apparent.
Which is better, microneedling or laser resurfacing?
Again, each of these non-surgical treatments increases your skin's natural production of collagen by creating micro-injuries to the skin. Both procedures work well to treats acne scars, open pores, pigmentation problems, or simply reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Of course, they treat these respective issues in very distinctive ways.
On the other hand, most microneedling uses no heat at all. This means it has a much shorter downtime, less pain, reduced redness post-treatment, and a much smaller risk of scarring, infection, and post-inflammation skin darkening.
Another major difference between these two treatments is that while almost anyone can undergo a microneedling procedure, laser and other light-based treatments are not appropriate for all skin types. In fact, there are rather strict limits on laser treatments for darker skinned people.
Overall, microneedling is by far the more accessible of the two treatments, with far fewer risks involved. Be sure, however, to talk to your doctor to find out if it's the right procedure for you.
Does microneedling hurt?
The shortest needle lengths shouldn't produce any pain at all, and for deeper needles most practitioners provide their patients with a numbing agent. This allows them to go as deep as they need to with the needles.
Afterwards you can expect your skin to be a little pink, and in a worst case scenario you could be left with a few tiny puncture scabs that will fade over a few days. Pain following the treatment is rare, but easily controlled with over-the-counter medications.
What does a professional procedure involve?
When performed by a professional, microneedling begins with cleaning and possibly numbing the skin with a topical anesthetic. Numbing is only done if you have a low pain tolerance. Generally, it’s not necessary.
Often a collagen-stimulating product, vitamin C serum, and/or a skin lightener is applied to the skin's surface. Then, using the microneedling device of their choice, the skin is punctured with tiny wounds, created in the uppermost surface of the skin. The speed and adjustability of the needles makes piercing the skin easier and increases your skin's ability to absorb any serum that was put on your face. A vitamin C serum or hyaluronic acid is usually used after the procedure to re-hydrate, heal, and protect the skin.
What will I look like after the treatment?
The average person will see some redness and mild swelling in their face right after treatment. This can even resemble a sunburn and last for 24 to 48 hours. It’s important to keep your skin protected from the sun while you recover. There might also be some slight pinpoint bleeding or bruising if your treatment involved needles that were on the longer end of the scale.
These symptoms should all fade quickly, and you should notice smoother, more radiant skin within a week or two. Your skin will continue to experience the effects of a treatment for the entire time your skin remodels itself.
How do at-home microneedling systems compare to professional treatments?
A useful way to think about the differences between at-home and professional treatments is to think about going to the gym. Hitting the gym by yourself and getting in a good, solid workout a few times a week is great for your body and general health. That's similar to what using an at-home microneedling system is like. It's easy, and you can see some pretty amazing results over a long period of consistent use. However, if you’re doing the wrong exercises or doing the right exercises incorrectly, you could be causing yourself more harm than good.
On the other hand, going for a professional version of the treatment like going to the gym and working with a personal trainer. You get much more dramatic, longer lasting results, faster than you could get alone -- and more effectively, too.
How long do at-home systems last?
The lifetime of your at-home microneedling system will ultimately depend on its quality.
Low or poor quality tools typically lose their effectiveness faster. If you did your research and purchased a high quality system, with proper care it should last at least six or eight months before needing replacement needles. Medical-grade needles won't wear out as fast as their cheaper counterparts, but even they will eventually become dull and blunt, not unlike how even an expensive razor eventually loses its edge.
What type of disinfectant should I use for my at-home microneedling system?
Most disinfectants found in the first-aid section of your local supermarket or pharmacy are appropriate. Just be sure to select something that is at least 70% alcohol to make sure your needles are fully sanitized. Follow the care instructions of your system, which should be included at the time of purchase.
How often should I get it done?
That would depend on the severity of the problem you're treating. If your skin is generally smooth and you care for it well, you can microneedle every 3 to 6 months to maintain your appearance. However, someone with dramatic acne scarring should plan on a session every month for 4 to 6 months to see the best results. After that, you can go in for a touch-up once a year, or microneedle as often as you feel your skin will benefit from it. Most people start to see results after their very first treatment.
What are the benefits of microneedling?
The benefits are remarkably far-reaching. For one, the tiny puncture wounds produced by the head of the tools greatly improve your skin's ability to absorb topical skincare products and helps them work better.
Microneedling also stimulates blood circulation and collagen production in the treated area by over 1,000%, according to some estimates. And when compared to many harsher, more invasive and expensive treatments like chemical peels, laser resurfacing or dermabrasion, microneedling is incredibly cost effective.
Additionally, unlike some other treatments, microneedling works well on all skin types and can be used to treat the body, face, around the eyes, mouth, neck and even the scalp.
Microneedling has been proven to significantly improve the following skin problems:
Can microneedling be combined with other procedures?
Absolutely! Microneedling is a minimally invasive treatment combinable with any number of cosmetic procedures, among them botox, injectable fillers, chemical peels, laser resurfacing, microdermabrasion, and other traditional cosmetic procedures.
These procedures can often even be combined into a single treatment session. For example, laser resurfacing with a carbon dioxide laser can be combined in the same sitting with microneedling for the treatment of acne scars. However, not all practitioners recommend that they be done on the same day. Your practitioner will let you know if it’s possible.
On the other hand, combining and alternating between microneedling treatments and a 35% glycolic acid chemical peel every three weeks has been shown to be an incredible regimen for treating both superficial and moderately deep scars. This combination has also shown an improvement to skin texture and helps fade post-acne discolorations.