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Microneedling, also referred to as collagen induction therapy, can have really impressive results to improve acne scars, tissue paper like wrinkling of the skin, and persistent fine lines.
Essentially, multiple pin pricks are introduced to the skin to trigger collagen production below the surface. Small ‘microchannels’ are introduced into the skin to allow for the delivery of skin care products as well such as Hyaluronic acid and alpha hydroxy acids and platelet rich peptide (PRP also known as the vampire facial).
There are a range of definitions for microneedling and devices used to accomplish its effect. The key to real results is how deep the needles penetrate the skin to really stimulate collagen. Collagen producing cells are in the dermis- this is the layer of the skin that is vascular. When we do microneedling in the office we use needles that actually go 1.5 to 2.5 or 3 mm deep. We use a power device to really get the same depth each time we puncture the skin. In spite of topical numbing, it can be very uncomfortable! It’s also a little messy during the procedure but shockingly little down time. The results are amazing.
Microneedling outside of dermatologists office may only puncture the skin maybe 0.5 mm deep. This simply isn’t deep enough to get impressive results. I have seen ads for places that show before and after photos from medical studies that use needles that penetrate 2-3 mm deep to draw in customers however those spas only use shallow needles. Technically if there is no bleeding then your treatment may not have good results.
Dermarollers are an attempt to bring microneedling home but also used in spas. Again, these use shallow needles. The only other issue is the ‘drag’ of the needle rolling on the skin which can tear the skin easily- especially older skin.
It is important to recognize that the benefits of over the counter dermarollers may be limited to skin hydration as opposed to true collagen production.
What are the risks to do this at home?
Dermarollers are an attempt to bring microneedling home but also used in spas. These devices use shallow needles puncturing the skin maybe 0.5 mm deep. This simply may not be deep enough to get impressive results with regards to acne scars and wrinkles, however this depth can improve the appearance of hydration in the superficial layers of the skin.
Precautions to take?
That being said, the risk of infection is relatively low but present with at home dermarollers given the shallow depth of needle penetration. Bacteria can be introduced into the skin with these micropunctures of the skin. If you have an active fever blister or a tendency towards them, taking antivirals either prophylactically or after treatment should help decrease the risk of a flare.The other issue that occurs is the ‘drag’ of the needle rolling on the skin which can tear the skin easily- especially older skin. The tear that can result can potentially bruise the skin and risk scarring if not treated appropriately..
It is important to note that only lightweight products should be used for the first 12 to 24 hours after microneedling. Avoiding sunscreen and excess sun exposure for the first 24 hours will avoid the risk of product settling in the “microchannels” formed by microneedling. There are reports of acne and milia developing after treatment.
Is this safe?
Overall dermarolling and microneedling are considered safe procedures.