What is Micro-Needling?
Micro-needling (also known as collagen induction therapy) involves using fine needles to create hundreds of tiny, invisible puncture wounds in the top layer of skin. It may not sound appealing. But his minimally invasive treatment – whether it’s done in office by a trained aesthetician, dermatologist, of plastic surgeon or at home using a derma roller (a small, handheld paint roller coated in tiny needles) – can be very effective. “The micro-injuries you create stimulates the body’s natural wound healing processes, resulting in cell turnover and increased collagen and elastin production, therefore reversing as well as preventing signs of aging,” says Sejal Shah, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City. (Micro-needling works the same way lasers do, only you’re injuring the skin mechanically instead of using heat or light.)
Micro-Needling May Reduce Fine and Deep Wrinkles
One of the main benefits of micro-needling is its ability to stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin, which is the key to new, youthful-looking skin. Because of its ability to trigger the generation of new skin cells, dermatologists have found that a few sessions will noticeably reduce fine lines, crow’s fear, and deep wrinkles on the forehead. “This is one of the reasons I like micro-needling because it’s able to use the body’s own natural healing mechanisms, so the results are very natural,” Dr. Shah says.” And because there’s minimal downtime with it, I often recommend it as maintenance for people who are trying to stave off the signs of aging.” To treat wrinkles, a needle no longer than 1.5mm should be used.
Micro-Needling May Repair Visible Scars
In a study on the effects of micro-needling published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, nearly 100 percent of acne-scarred participants reported a marked improvement in the visibility of their scars. With at-home micro-needling, a 1.5mm handheld roller is long enough to improve the appearance of acne scars. For severe acne scars, however, you may need longer needles for maximum results. Professional grade micro-needling devices (used by dermatologist’s or facialist’s office) can be as long as 3mm, which will treat deep acne scars that occur beneath the surface of the skin. How effective is micro-needling compared to fractional laser treatments for reducing acne scars? Research in the journal Dermatologic Surgery in 2016 found both treatments to be comparable and effective but gave credit to micro-needling for being better tolerated, with fewer side effects and less downtime.
Micro-Needling May Reverse Sun Damage and Pigmentation
Collagen is arguably the best way to improve the look of skin, and this goes beyond reducing wrinkles. Stimulating collagen growth with micro-needling can also reverse sun damage and discoloration, including the hyper pigmentation that comes with melasma. A study in Brazilian Annals of Dermatology showed micro-needling to be a promising treatment for the blotchy, brownish facial pigmentation that comes with this chronic condition. To imrpove extra pigmentation from sun-damaged skin, derma roller needles should range from 1.0mm to 1.5mm in length.
Micro-Needling May Help Aging Skin
In addition to its ability to smooth and correct damaged skin, micro-needling can also tighten loose skin in older men and women. (Remember: The older you are, the less collagen you’re naturally producing.) A study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that micro-needling is a new way to achieve “skin rejuvenation, rightening, and scar remodeling” and that is offers a “simple and effective treatment for photo-aged skin,” according to the researchers, with minimal side effects and downtime.
Micro-Needling May Shrink Pores
It’s a bit counter intuitive, but micro-needling doesn’t actually enlarge pores as you might think piercing your skin hundreds of times would. Rather, one benefit of the procedure is that it helps pores appear much smaller, Dr. Shah says. Micro-needling stimulates collagen in and around your pores, which causes them to plump and appear shrunken, if not closed. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want smaller pores?
Micro-Needling May Make Your Skincare Products Work Better
Did you know that only 4 to 8 percent of that expensive serum you’re using on your face actually penetrates your skin? Another micro-needling benefit is that is improves product absorption. A study in the European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences found that the treatment can help topical medication penetrate skin more efficiently, allowing you to reap greater benefits of any product. This makes sense considering that micro-needling creates thousands of invisible holes in your skin that are ready to absorb products in a way that clogged pores can’t. “The tiny punctures actually act like little channels, allowing topical products to penetrate better and work more effectively,” Dr. Shah says.
Micro-Needling Can Be Done All Over The Body
Another micro-needling benefit is that this treatment isn’t exclusive to the face. It can be done on any area of skin that needs to be repaired – including areas that display stretch marks or acne scars, like the legs, chest, back, and butt. Four to six sessions could make a difference in these areas, says Dr. Shah.
Sejal Shah, MD, dermatologist, New York City.
Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery: “Microneedling Therapy in Atrophic Facial Scars: An Objective Assessment.”
Brazilian Annals of Dermatology: “Microneedling in Facial Recalcitrant Melasma: Report of a Series of 22 Cases.”
Dermatologic Surgery: “Comparison of Nonablative Fractional Erbium Laser 1,340 nm and Microneedling for the Treatment of Acne Scars: A Randomized Clinical Trial.”
International Journal of Dermatology: “Multiple Microneedling Sessions for Minimally Invasive Facial Rejuvenation: An Objective Assessment.”
European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences: “Skin Penetration Enhancement By a Microneedle Device In Vitro: Dependency On Needle Size and Applied Formulation.”
Medically reviewed by S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, on September 02, 2019
Author: Updated: Oct. 09, 2019