Treatments for acne scars or wrinkles can be expensive, (especially if done by laser), involve multiple visits, require a week of healing time and may not be safe for darker skin. A new, minimally invasive treatment called micro-needling employs a device to create tiny pin pricks to stimulate the body’s healing processes. Wrinkles, scars and abnormal pigmentation may be improved with micro-needling.
How Does Micro-needling Work?
Micro needling devices are either motorized pens with a cluster of tiny needles at the tip or rollers with wheels of tiny needles. As the micro-needles penetrate the top layer of the skin, they create a tiny channel. The injury triggers the body to produce new collagen, elastin and blood vessels in the deeper skin layers. The result is reduction of scars, wrinkles and rough texture.
What conditions can improve with Micro-needling?
Micro needling is effective for:
- Acne scars
- Wrinkles or fine lines around the eyes or upper lip
- Pigmentation or melasma, even in darker skinned individuals
- Rough skin texture
What is the micro-needling procedure like?
Patients arrive to the office 15-30 minutes before the procedure. Some patients chose to have a topical numbing gel applied to the skin for 20-30 minutes. The gel is then washed off and a lubricating product is applied to help the skin needling pen glide across the skin. A full face treatment takes 45 minutes – 1 hour. If only a single scar is treated, it takes 5 minutes. During the procedure there may be a few spots of pin point bleeding which quickly resolve. The treatment may also be used to deliver anti-aging serums or collagen stimulating products deeper into the skin.
What is the recovery time?
Immediately after the treatment, patients will have some pinkness or swelling. After treatment ice packs are recommended for a few hours. Gentle cleanser and moisturizer can be used right away. Sun protection is necessary for several weeks after the treatment. Unlike laser resurfacing which takes a week to heal, micro needling heals in 2 days. If the procedure is done on Friday, most patients can apply makeup on Sunday!
What are the possible side effects?
Micro-needling is safe and side effects are rare. As with any procedure that causes a break in the skin surface there is the small possibility of bacterial or viral infection (herpes simplex). If you are prone to cold sores, preventative treatment can be started on the day of the procedure to minimize that risk. Acne flares can occur but are usually mild. There have been a few reports of allergic reaction to skin care products used as part of the micro needling procedures in spas. Any products used during treatment should be those that have been tested for use with the micro needling device.
Who can perform micro-needling?
Medical grade micro needling must be performed by a licensed medical professional- a physician, nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. Estheticians are able to use skin needling devices that do not break the skin surface. This superficial treatment is less effective but may be similar in cost to the medical treatment.
At home models are available online for $20-$125. The needles on the at home model should penetrate no more than 0.5 mm to be safe. Results will be temporary with devices that are sold for home use. And, due to risk of allergic reactions, be careful what products you use after the home treatment!
What does micro-needling cost?
If laser resurfacing, which costs $2000-$4000, is not in your budget, micro needling may be affordable for you. Treatment at a dermatology or plastic surgery practice costs $250-$400 for a full face procedure. The fees may vary depending on the location of the practice. Typically 3-5 treatments are needed for best results. To avoid any mishaps with home devices or spa treatments, consult with a board certified dermatologist.