Want to know what works for acne scars, hyperpigmentation, anti-aging, rejuvenating, collagen production and a face lift? Well, a minor face lift ;). I’ll let you know of a little secret – there IS something that works for all the mentioned points you’d want from a skincare procedure. Unfortunately, yes, there is a somewhat downside…it is costly, but it does perform IF you decide to go for a full price plan (I highly recommend skipping those cheapie Groupon deals on this one) and your skin will thank you with a youthful and gorgeous complexion!
So, what is this skin secret?
I’m sure you might have heard of this hot, on trend treatment in the recent years but probably been put off by the cost and the actual procedure of needles being used.
I’m going to clarify EVERYTHING in this post per what skin needling has to offer: the various devices, cost, what to expect after the fact and my own personal experience of 6 treatments in a 5-month period.
Plus, I’ll even add my own personal pic in this post when I had skin needling done with derma pen!
What is skin needling and what effect does it have on the skin?
Skin needling is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical facial procedure that consists of either a roller type or a pen device with tiny micro needles, which are rolled over facial skin in circular/vertical/horizontal layers.
Having the punctures created from skin needling will cause the skin to initiate healing and, therefore, the damaged skin will tend to get eliminated and replaced with new skin. For wrinkles and face lines, basically, the produced collagen and elastin will cause the skin to thicken and also tighten leaving the skin looking more youthful.
What does it do?
Skin needling goes by a few different names such as dermarolling, microneedling, Percutaneous Collagen Induction (PCI) and Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT). This treatment has the power to smooth wrinkles, fine lines, repair uneven skin texture + improve acne scars and hyperpigmentation.
It boosts collagen production overtime; meaning, after a series of treatments performed (recommended and what I did) over a few months period, your skin’s natural collagen production (the protein that gives the skin its elasticity) will start repairing, so your skin will look a lot younger + tighter + youthful – kinda like a mini face lift (not exaggerating, either). It. Really. Works.
This is one of the reasons I personally like microneedling, because it’s able to utilize the body’s own natural healing mechanisms, so the results are very natural without any crazy, invasive fillers or expensive laser treatments.
It works through the skins natural wound healing process, since needles within the devices create tiny, invisible holes in the skin (sounds kinda scary, but really, it’s not) when the roller or pen based device glides over the skin.
These microchannels (tiny invisible holes produced on the skin) stimulate the body to produce collagen, the protein that gives the skin its elasticity, and also allow serums and other expensive skincare products used to be better absorbed.
The effects of skin needling differ according to needle gauge, length and the manual pressure that’s used with the roller or pen device. Therefore, the level of skin invasion and subsequent inflammation on the skin can vary from gentle stimulation to piercing the skin.
With the variances of effects skin-needling rollers can have, most devices are disposed of in the appropriate biohazard container or are properly sanitized and given directly to the same client for at home use.
Whichever method is done, it is important that correct sanitation measures are followed to prevent the chance of cross contamination from occurring. This is crucial to know when going in for this treatment!
Keep in mind, this procedure is not limited to just the face area – it can be done on any part of the body and supposedly it can reduce the appearance stretch marks.
**If you’re curious to know about other, less pricey skin care procedures, such as peels, microdermabrasion and the good ol’ facial – you can read my comprehensive review here.
Devices – Differences?
There are quite a few skin needling devices out in the market that promise the anti-aging and acne scarring reducing results. This includes at home use devices + professional treatments at a spa or dermatologist office (most potent and recommended for visible results) that will deliver an exceptional effect to your skin.
The Dermal Roller (pictured as the above featured image in this post) is a roller tool with a rolling drum on a handle, attached with thin surgical steel needles with a specific length and rolled across the skin to create numerous tiny piercings as it is moved. Needle length may vary between rollers but generally around 1.5 mm.
The rolling drum requires some small amount of pressure during rolling to ensure proper microneedle penetration.
A dermal roller must be manually sterilized between users, however, the Demapen (which is mentioned in the next paragraph down) has a disposable needle tip, which is thrown out after each client.
– This is the treatment that I had done (pictured). Dermapen is basically a writing style pen device that contains tiny micro needles on the tip.
The pic above shows results for hyperpigmentation type skin – before and after – pic provided from my esthetician w/ REAL results (no photoshop here). 5 treatments.
From Dermapen’s website:
Dermapen has 12 needles on the very tip and these 12 needles are the ones that are used to puncture the top layer of the skin as the Dermapen glides over the area being treated. Usually, the Dermapen will be positioned vertically over the skin and when it is turned on, a motor that is found inside the pen will start making the needles to move rapidly back and forth on the skin surface creating the punctures and these needles have been created in such a way that they can rotate in a slight way.
These punctures created in the process are usually aimed at opening up the pores for a period of time only.
This treatment is similar to laser treatments, but without the severe side effects or the long recovery time. Adding to that benefit, studies have shown that Dermapen treatments are more effective than traditional microdermabrasion and chemical peels, due to how the disposable needles reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
The adjustable needle depth also allows treatment that adapts to individual client’s needs.
You can read up on my review of microdermabrasion here.
Therefore, when the punctures are made using the Dermapen, the skin will treat the punctures as wounds and therefore initiate healing. This means that micro-needling tends to trick the skin to produce collagen and elastin through stimulating growth factors to promote ‘healing’ and the effect will be a rejuvenated skin.
Professional grade needles are from 0.25 mm to 3 mm in size. Please note, to see some drastic results, you would need to see a professional because the longer the needle – the deeper penetration will be – which results in a better outcome.
Microneedling Rollers (for at-home use)
– Personal, at home use rollers come with wide-gauge, short needles that are under 0.25 mm (varies) in length are generally non-invasive and cannot cause trauma to the skin, but rather it stimulates and provides gentle exfoliation while increasing superficial circulation.
This action, much like manual massage and other electrical modalities, may enhance the penetration and absorption of active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin.
However, noticeable results will vary from person to person since the needle size isn’t a professional length.
These devices are sold online and in most department stores.
Devices sold for at-home use are generally, anywhere from 0.1 mm to 1.0 mm (needle size). Sizes vary in between the two amounts given. Therefore, results will not be as drastic or noticeable as opposed to the longer needle used by a professional.
However, there may be cases where the at-home devices are not used with caution and therefore, may result it tiny scarring or ice pick type indentation to the skin. So, please always use caution with these at-home rollers.
My personal recommendation is to let the professional perform such a treatment and forego on these at-home kits. I’ll cover more on this at the end of this post.
Skin needling is a great procedure for acne scars because it actually repairs the skin overtime through rebuilding and re-growing the top of skin’s surface (dermis), which is exactly what those suffering from acne scarring need from a skin resurfacing procedure.
However, according to my esthetician – for severe acne scars, you may need even longer needles for maximum results, so you’ll want to find a dermatologist or facialist who performs microneedle therapy treatments.
Professional grade microneedling devices can be as long as 3 mm, which is twice as effective and will treat deep acne scars that occur beneath the surface of the skin.
Dermapen adjustable needles penetrate a controlled depth into the facial skin (dermis), which means that results are initially seen in approximately six weeks. However, the full benefits of the treatment can take up three months to take effect.
The above photo was provided to me from my esthetician – as you can see acne scarring was greatly reduced! Real results – before and after. 9 treatments.
Suggested # of Treatments?
6 – 12 to see visible results.
**Very Important – for those with active facial acne, skin needling should NOT be performed by a professional, nor with at home device. Since, active pimples need to be extracted one by one by a professional or left completely alone to heal naturally. Skin needling will not only be more painful, but more prone to infection and possible scarring of upper dermis.
At home microneedling kits are sold everywhere these days – from online retailers to your nearest department store. Kits range from $30 to $250.
Professional medical grade microneedling performed at a med spa will cost from $200 – $700+ per session, depending on the treatment provided. It is recommended patients receive 4-6 treatments, depending on skin condition and age. Definitely pricey, pricey!
Part of the reason why a hefty price tag per session is because the needles used are disposed of after each client. Therefore, one manual roller device or needle gauge from Dermapen is used only once per customer.
**Very important to note, numbing cream that’s applied before the initial microneedling procedure, will cost an addition fee. Usually an extra $30-50. Highly recommend this since the procedure is very painful if one decides to forego the numbing cream.
My personal experience was definitely an interesting one! The actual experience was great due to positive results, but I literally had to plan out my week accordingly, each time I had the procedure done.
I always scheduled the Dermapen treatment on either a Thursday (if I was able to get Friday off from work or just ask to work from home) or a Friday evening.
During the procedure, my aesthetician used hyaluronic acid (thin, clear gel with nutrients that feed + stimulate cells while gliding the dermapen over my facial skin). This actually speeds up healing after the tratment + accelerates all the skincare benefits mentioned. Hyaluronic acid added to the treatment was an extra cost.
As you can see from the picture (yes, that’s me!) above, I had a few extra treatments done along with micro needling procedure. This was recommended, so my skin would recover faster and produce better results. I had light therapy and a Collagen Mask, which plumped up the skin immediately after treatment – great for anti-aging.
After the treatment, my face felt a little sore and was very, very red (complete sunburnt look). Almost like a microdermabrasion treatment times 5! It actually looked just a bit scratched…but then again, it healed flawlessly within a week.
Reason why I’d always schedules the treatment on a Thursday or Friday is because I absolutely could NOT go out of the house for a couple of days.
You cannot wear makeup the next day or the day after – skin needs healing after all those needles scraping the surface of the face and wearing any makeup could potentially cause infection because pores are open and susceptible to bacteria from chemical derived skincare/makeup products.
I was slathering a very rich, shea butter infused moisturizer on my face three to four times a day for 2 days straight. My skin started to slough up and flake a lot after 3 days. So, a rich facial moisturizer was a must and I have oily skin!
When did my skin start calming down from needling effect?
After 4 days, my skin was looking healthier and less pinky in color. However, the dryness and flakiness of the skin are probably the two most noticeable side effects. Makeup applies unevenly for a few days and skin is constantly flaking in different places.
However, after a full week (7 days) – my face was back to normal from all that beating up from the spiky porcupine facial device!
I saw results after the 2nd or 3rd treatment – my light acne scarring was reduced, facial skin plumper, and reduction of pores. My facial skin was noticeably tighter and way more rejuvenated, making me look like a complete teenager.
I’m fairly young and don’t have any wrinkles to worry about, so I can’t speak on the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines.
However, my overall appearance remained very youthful into a 6-month period after getting the 6 treatments done. In addition, the surface of my skin was polished from any dead skin cells producing from prior weeks to the treatment and stayed this was for a while. This prompted all of many all-natural skincare products to penetrate better through my pores and therefore, work their magic to their highest potential for better and optimal results.
This makes total sense considering the fact that microneedling creates thousands of invisible holes in your skin that are ready to absorb products in a way clogged pores can’t. After skin calms down from microneedling, skin tightens around the tiny little holes made from the procedure.
I would also recommend to add any extra treatments and a mask, if you can (numbing cream is a MUST) because your results will be more prominent and the initial redness will fade out faster.
There’s definitely some downtime involved, especially what I wrote in the above paragraphs from my own experience.
However, please understand that my experience of downtime after the fact was a bit dramatic since a 2.0 mm needle was used for my face. The time to heal up after the procedure really depends on your skin type and the length of needle used. The longer the needle, the more red your skin will be from tiny little piercings, which will cause a bit of slight bleeding.
Personally, the 7-day or 10-day (if you’re counting the weekend where you’ll probably stay home) downtime is give or take and may seem like a stretch but keep in mind the results after 5 or 6 sessions will last you anywhere from 6 months to a year, depending on your own skin and its collagen growth factor.
Everyone reacts differently to micro-needling.
Some individuals will heal up much quicker than me…again, it depends on you skin type and length of needle. Also, any additional treatments help along with the procedure.
Is it really worth it?
Honestly, you’ll need to do a series of treatments (5 being bare minimum) to see a change in your skin – whether you’re looking to eliminate acne scars, anti-aging/ tightening the skin, or reduction of hyper pigmentation. Unfortunately, 1 or 2 treatments will not produce great results.
In addition, if you’re looking for microneedling as a anti-aging treatment – upkeep is needed after 6-8 months after the procedure.
I whole heartedly recommend Dermapen microneedling procedure for any skin type and any skin problem (except those with highly acne prone skin). I’ve seen this work on my own face and will most likely have this procedure done again sometime in the near future because the results were totally on the money.
If you have acne scars, then definitely give this a try, as micro-needling does produce REAL results – keep in mind that it gets very pricey since multiple treatments must be done to see a visible outcome.
My personal recommendation is to let the professional perform such a treatment and forego on the at-home kits. Some individuals may cause injury to the surface of the skin if the at-home treatment is not done properly – this can leave a scar, an indentation and worse, may result in some infection.
Not trying to scare anyone off from purchasing a personal at-home use skin needling, but anytime a somewhat invasive (hey, needles are involved!) product is sold on the market, doesn’t mean you should jump on the bandwagon like everyone else. I think a professional would know best how to use it for best outcome possible without any side effects.
Lastly, DO YOUR RESEARCH of the med spa and the esthetician before making that appointment. This is crucial! Make sure, the esthetician has experience in such treatments. Make sure that the needles being used are completely sterile (new) and are disposed of after the treatment.
Again – yes, it IS costly, but my face is thanking my credit card!
Have you tried microneedling? Share in the comments below – I’d love to know your personal results!
Sources + References (click link below)