Curious about the microneedling trend? Here’s everything you need to know and more.
For years, we have been conditioned to believe that poking and pricking acne-ridden skin is harmful and can lead to permanent scars. So, when you’ve come across that trending microneedling procedure on TikTok, you might’ve found it quite bizarre.
But bizarre doesn’t even come close to describing the actual procedure. Since it involves multiple needles pricking your face, it can get a little too overwhelming for those who don’t know how it exactly works. This is especially true for people who are scared of blood and needles.
But did you know that you don’t have to bleed for microneedling to be effective?
If you’re torn between wanting to try it out or not, this article is here to help you make an informed decision. In this article, we’re going to discuss what it is, how it works, its benefits and its risks. Continue reading to find out if microneedling for acne is a good idea.
What Is Microneedling?
Microneedling (a.k.a. percutaneous collagen induction) is a cosmetic procedure involving the superficial but controlled puncturing of the skin. It makes use of a dermaroller studded with rows of microfine single-use needles.
These needles create micro punctures without actually damaging the epidermis. The resulting micro-wounds bleed superficially, prompting a surge in the production of skin repair chemicals. With this, the skin’s self-healing process begins.
[note] During the healing response stage, vital skin proteins like collagen are released. The stimulated production of these skin proteins help improve acne scarring, reverse sun damage, and combat hyperpigmentation. [/note]
Depending on the type of microneedling treatment, the entire process can take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. It can be performed under anesthesia by doctors or trained aestheticians under the supervision of the former. They may be done at 3–8 week intervals. The ultimate results can be seen approximately 3–6 months after the treatment.
Research suggests that microneedle thickness, length, number, and angle have an impact on the degree of pain that can be felt during the procedure. The longer and higher the number of microneedles are, the more painful it is.
Types of microneedling
Thanks to several scientific advancements, many types of microneedling treatments have been developed. Below are some of them and their specifications:
Home care dermaroller
Home care dermarollers (a.k.a. C-8) are standard dermarollers studded with 0.13 mm needles sold for consumers’ personal use. They can enhance topical product penetration, reduce pore size, and regulate sebum production. They’re painless and can be used twice a week for up to 100 times, depending on your skin’s tolerance.
Derma-stamps are smaller versions of dermarollers. Their needle lengths range from 0.2–3 mm with a diameter of 0.12 mm. Due to their size, they offer a more localized and concentrated area of treatment. Its benefits include treating isolated scars and reducing wrinkles.
Dermapens are electrically-powered devices that are spring-loaded with needles. They’re shaped like pens and deliver stamp-like motions across the skin. Their needle lengths can be adjusted depending on the intended use. They’re ideal for treating narrow areas such as the nose, eye area, and lips.
DermaFrac™ treatment combines microneedling, microdermabrasion, simultaneous deep tissue serum infusion, and LED therapy. It can promote improved topical infusion and beneficial dermal micro injury. It’s ideal for managing superficial scars, wrinkles, and pigmented post-acne scars. The treatment takes about 45 mins. and has no downtime.
Fractional radiofrequency microneedling
Fractional radiofrequency microneedling treatments use insulated needles for skin penetration. These needles release radiofrequency currents to create controlled thermal damage in the dermis. The device can do this without damaging the overlying epidermis. It can stimulate the skin’s wound-healing response to trigger long-term dermal remodelling. Its benefits include hyperhidrosis, skin tightening, and rejuvenation. It’s also been proven to be effective in treating moderate to severe acne scars.
Can Microneedling Help With Acne?
Most microneedling procedures for acne are a big NO-NO. People with active acne are not ideal candidates for this procedure. In fact, active acne is a contraindication of microneedling. Active acne comes in the form of red spots (papules) and swelling on the skin. The swelling caused by active acne may become inflamed and filled with pus if it gets irritated.
If microneedles penetrate active acne, they can spread acne-causing bacteria all over the whole area. This can cause you to break out in the areas of your face where the device has been used. In turn, this can further aggravate your acne problem. This is why most doctors advise against microneedling when the patient has active acne breakouts.
It’s always best to consult a dermatologist. Your dermatologist may refer you to other effective acne treatment options like laser/light acne treatment or prescription/non-prescription topical/oral acne medication.
However, there are certain microneedling procedures that can actually aid in acne treatment. These are DermaFrac™ system and fractional radiofrequency microneedling.
The DermaFrac™ system can improve active acne breakouts as well as mild acne scarring. With salicylic acid infusion, DermaFrac™ can unclog pores and neutralize acne-causing bacteria. Fractional radiofrequency microneedling can also aid in decreasing acne lesions and regulating sebum production.
Procedures like DIY microneedling, dermapen and derma-stamps are more suited for treating acne scars after active acne. As discussed, these take advantage of the body’s physiological wound-healing abilities to improve the skin. By creating micro-wounds, it basically forces the body to produce more collagen. This results in an improved dermal thickness which then reveals tighter and renewed youthful skin.
Other Benefits of Microneedling
Aside from microneedling being good for acne scars, here are some more skin benefits that microneedling has to offer:
Suitable for all skin tones
Most laser treatments have a tendency to cause epidermal damage in colored skin tones. This makes laser treatment no-so-ideal for people with darker skin tones. Luckily, Dermafrac™ and microneedling radiofrequency (MNRF) technology, doesn’t cause epidermal damage. The risk of postinflammatory pigmentation in these microneedling procedures is also very low.
Reduce acne scarring & hyperpigmentation
Studies found that microneedling is effective in reducing acne scars minimizing hyperpigmentation. The Dermafrac™ system, specifically, is effective in addressing these skin concerns. Compared to other microneedling devices, the Dermafrac™ system has smaller drums (with 0.5 mm needle sizes). Because it has small drums, treating periorbital hyperpigmentation (dark circles) becomes possible.
Fine lines and wrinkles reduction
Microneedling can reorganize old collagen fibres and lay down new ones. This has the effect of the promotion of skin tightening. In fact, studies show that microneedling’s enhanced collagen production promotes a youthful appearance. It minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, reduces pore size, and increases skin elasticity.
Improved effectiveness of other skincare products
According to studies, microneedling can increase drug penetration across the skin barrier. Simply put, microneedling enhances the absorption of skincare ingredients. This transdermal drug delivery is especially effective in devices with medium (500 μm) and short (150 μm) needle lengths.
Obviously, availing microneedling services at the doctor’s clinic will be much safer than DIY’s. However, some people still prefer to use home microneedling devices. This is because DIY’s are more convenient and cheaper.
But as with all cosmetic procedures, it’s important to consider the consequences of DIY microneedling.
First, microneedling devices designed for home use have shorter, more blunt needle tips. They aren’t designed to deeply penetrate the skin. The effectiveness of microneedling is largely influenced by the depth reached by the device’s needles. Following this, people using home care dermarollers can expect slower progress and less efficacy.
Second, without proper training and hand control, you risk injuring yourself by pushing too deeply. While home devices are blunter, the threat of injury still lingers.
Most importantly, these devices are difficult to clean. When you use an improperly cleaned home microneedling device, the risk of infection and breakouts increase. This is especially true because the device’s needles penetrate the skin.
Don’t use a home microneedling device on skin with active acne, active eczema, psoriasis, or any other active skin irritation. Doing so can only worsen your skin condition.
Microneedling procedures are minimally-invasive and require little to no downtime. However, there are certain aftercare protocols that should be followed. To maximize results and prevent side effects, strictly follow your doctor’s advice. Additionally, here are some general guidelines for post-treatment aftercare:
Since microneedling causes superficial wounds, your skin becomes more prone to sun damage. It’s best to avoid sun tanning and prolonged sun exposure for at least 2 weeks after the treatment. When going outside, an SPF 30 (or higher) mineral sunscreen is recommended. They’re naturally-broad spectrum and are less irritating to the skin than chemical sunscreens.
Gentle skincare routine and avoid exfoliation
For about a week after the treatment, avoid using harsh cleansers and products with strong anti-aging ingredients. Most products containing anti-aging ingredients have the tendency to be drying and/or irritating to the skin. When applied directly to your skin’s fresh penetration wounds, they can trigger unnecessary inflammation. Also, avoid exfoliating the treated area to prevent further irritation. Go for unscented and mild facial products so as not to trigger any adverse skin reactions.
After a week, your skin should no longer feel tight and irritated. At this point, you may gradually add back your usual cosmetic products. If skin irritation and sensitivity still persists, consult your doctor.
As with any other cosmetic procedure, microneedling has its own pros and cons. But armed with the right information, you may be able to maximize its benefits and lessen the risks. With microneedling, you can now say goodbye to your old acne battle scars. Thanks to science, you can now achieve a smoother and more even complexion.
So, are you going to try microneedling for acne or acne scars? If you already did, how was the experience? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.