They say good things often come in unique packages and if you happen to Google “micro-needling” you may think unique package is bit of an understatement; rather you’ve landed upon some form of medieval torture, but let us assure you this is not the case! In reality, this device is minimally invasive and produces effective anti-aging results.
Micro-needling works by creating small wounds in the epidermis, the top layer of the skin, encouraging cell regeneration from the increased production of collagen and elastin and resulting in improved skin texture and firmness. Not only do multiple studies shows micro-needling targets fine lines as well as wrinkles but additional research also indicates the treatment works well for improving the appearance of scars, especially deep ones.
THE 3 TYPES OF MICRO-NEEDLING DEVICES
Dermarollers can be best described as resembling spiked miniature paint rollers and are made up of a handle and a rotating cylinder donning a range of 180 – 1000 micro-needles.
Dermapens resemble pens, sometimes referred to as a micro needling pen have a circular motorized head covered by an average of 12-15 micro-needles that, when turned on, move in and out producing small punctures on the skin’s surface.
Dermastamps are similar to dermapens, but can either be manually or automatically operated and have a large flat head with an average of 12-50 needles.
DERMAROLLER VS DERMAPENS & DERMASTAMPS
For the most part, as the speed and motion are all regulated at the same rate, the dermaroller is a micro-needling tool most beneficial for treating more substantial areas of the skin including:
- Large areas of skin discoloration
- Forehead wrinkles and creases
- Deep wrinkles
Dermapens, dermastamps and certain smaller dermarollers are effective for targeted area such as:
- Small scarring
- Fine wrinkles
- Forehead creases
- Age spots and skin discolorations
HOW TO PICK YOUR MICRO-NEEDLING DEVICE
Medical-grade stainless steel or titanium are the most effective when it comes to micro-needling.
Dermaroller needles usually range 0.5-1.5 mm in length, while dermastamps and dermapens needles are often adjustable up to a max of 2.0 mm. Although it maybe true that needles above 0.5 mm are the ones that encourage maximum levels of collagen production, bigger isn’t always better. For at-home treatment make sure to stay within the 0.5 – 1.5 mm range in order to avoid damaging skin. If you are beginner (new to at-home micro-needling treatments) we suggest starting with a device with needles from 0.25 or at-least one at the lower end of the scale in order to prevent injury.
TREATMENT BASED ON AREA OF SKIN AND THICKNESS
When looking into micro-needling devices, it’s important to keep in mind that different areas of the skin have different levels of thickness. Below is our quick overview to what areas of the face should be treated based on skin thickness and by the size of the needles:
NEEDLES UP TO 0.5 MM
- delicate upper eyelid area (and to achieve a “brow lift”)
NEEDLES UP TO 0.75 MM
- lines around the eyes, crow’s feet
- sagging skin around the neck area
NEEDLES UP TO 1 MM
- frown lines, sagging around the chin, and enlarged pores
NEEDLES UP TO 1 MM
- tougher areas like the brows and forehead, cheeks, chin, and enlarged pores around the nasal area
HARD TO REACH AREAS AND DETACHABLE ROLLER HEADS
Dermaroller technology has advanced to the point that now includes devices able to target the smallest area needing treatment such as around the eyes. Rollers may now also come with multiple detachable heads for those harder-to-reach areas.
DivineDerma 0.25 MM Dermaroller $17
Featuring 540 titanium needles this professional-grade dermaroller is perfect for beginners of at-home micro-needling treatment. it’s also great for those looking to treat fine lines and the more delicate areas of the face such as around the eyes.
Catalyst Dermaroller Kit $22.95
Catalyst’s popular 3 piece stainless steel tipped micro-needling device features 3 roller heads (180 Needles X 0.25MM, 600 Needles X 0.5 MM, 1200 Needles X 0.75 MM).
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A MICRO-NEEDLING TREATMENT?
- Avoid any skin treatments (chemical peels, facials, microdermabrasion) 2 weeks before and after treatment.
- Stop using Retin-A as well as any other chemical exfoliants (Salicylic & Glycolic Acid) 2-3 days prior and after treatment.
- Don’t take any anti-inflammatory medications 12-24 hours before the treatment, as this may impact your natural inflammatory process.
Please note – we are not licensed medical professionals and are not liable or responsible for any advice or course of treatment you should take. We recommend that you talk to a medical practitioner before starting a micro-needling treatment.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STERILIZATION
As with any at-home anti-aging treatment, make sure to sterilize the device before starting as using an non-sterilized micro-needling device can lead to multiple risks including infection. This is done by thoroughly soaking or spraying it with isopropyl alcohol ($6.51) or hydrogen peroxide ($8.40).
A numbing cream may be applied 20-25 minutes before the treatment begins. The micro-needling device will usually go over the area of skin being treated several times in order to maximize effectiveness.
15 – 30 Minutes
- Clean your face with a gentler cleanser like CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser ($7.96) before starting treatment.
- If you prefer to have a completely pain-free experience, apply a topical numbing cream like Numb Master 5% ($20.48) for 20-25 minutes and then wipe it off.
- With gentle pressure, go over the areas of skin you’d like to treat 3 – 10 times in different directions (vertical, horizontal, diagonal). As always, less is more so so avoid dragging or applying too much pressure on your skin – a light touch works best.
A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION
- Do not treat exposed acne, broken skin, or wounds with your micro-needling device.
- Although it’s often recommended to apply product (mostly serums) before or after micro-needling treatments we recommend treading carefully as there is still limited research on the benefits. It’s also important to note that due to the link between micro-needling and increased product absorption, avoid using potent ingredients like Retinol as it may heighten skin irritation or sensitivity.
After a micro-needling treatment, it is normal to experience redness and potentially red marks from pin prick bleeding that may last for a few days.
- We recommend applying a gentle moisturizer such as Complex 15 Daily Face Cream ($17.40) and potentially using an antibiotic cream like Neosporin ($7.20) for 2-3 days after treatment in order to avoid infection and speed up healing.
- Make sure to avoid wearing makeup for 24 hours after the treatment in order to limit skin irritation.
- If you’re going out in the sun after the treatment, make sure to use a good sunscreen to limit the chance of hyper-pigmentation and skin damage. Read our guide on how to pick an effective sunscreen to learn more.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED?
In general 4-8 treatments are needed, with each done spread 4–6 weeks apart to allow sufficient healing time.
HOW LONG DO RESULTS LAST?
How long results last are dependent on your diet, lifestyle habits and general skincare practices. As our skin continues to age with the rest of us, a holistic anti-aging regime including maintenance treatments should be expected in order to maximize and maintain results.
You will notice a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles after about 2 weeks from the initial treatment as collagen begins to reproduce. After the fourth treatment, these results can last up to 2 years.
Similar to fine lines and wrinkles, results for sagging can be noticed after the first or second treatment and can last up to 1 year after the final treatment.
Reduction of scarring can be seen after the third or fourth treatment, depending on the severity of the scar. Results can be permanent but maintenance treatments may also be needed.
Although micro-needling does not offer a permanent pore reduction solution, it does help clear out pore ducts, resulting in a noticeably clearer complexion almost immediately after the first treatment. After the initial course of treatment, these results can last 3- 6 months. Read our guide on effective ways to shrink pores to learn about alternative treatments.
When proper care is taken during micro-needling treatments the risk of serious side effects is limited. Slight pigmentation changes may occur but these generally fade within a few days.
MICRO-NEEDLING VS OTHER ANTI-AGING TREATMENTS
If you are are looking at other anti-aging treatments, or are interested in alternative treatments that achieve similar results as micro-needling, read on below:
In order to decrease fine lines and wrinkles, Botox offers a temporary fix by going beneath the skin’s surface to relax and numb muscles. Our coverage on what Botox does provides an in depth look into the treatment.
Dermal fillers often made from natural biological ingredients like hyaluronic acid work by targeting areas that have lost volume (think dark circles and scars) and filling them in. Check out our feature on the best anti-aging fillers to understand more about how skin fillers work.
Looking to firm, smooth, and tone your skin? Explore anti-aging chemical peels that exfoliate the top layers of the skin to boost collagen production and cell regeneration.
LED LIGHT TREATMENTS
One of the more unique non-invasive anti-aging treatments out there uses LED light in order to stimulate cell growth and regeneration in the deeper layers of your skin. Our guide on LED light treatments explores how different color LEDs treat different aging concerns.
There are two types of lasers: non-ablative and ablative. Non-ablative lasers are gentler, don’t affect the top layers of skin, and work great for uneven skin tone and pigmentation problems, while ablative lasers are the stronger option and target fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. Discover the benefits of anti-aging lasers to figure out which option is better for you.
Microdermabrasion targets age spots, scars (those ones that aren’t raised), fine lines and wrinkles by physically removing surface layers of skin. Our in depth article on how microdermabrasion works will teach you more about this anti-aging treatment and if it’s suitable for you.
It’s important to avoid both over-aggressive micro-needling and too much treatment so as to avoid damaging our skin. Always remember: a light touch can be really beneficial when targeting signs of aging.