Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Microneedling
The multi-purpose treatment targets everything from acne scars to hair loss.
For those looking to improve the look of scars, boost collagen, or encourage hair growth, microneedling can offer a minimally invasive solution. The practice dates back to 1995, but has gained significant traction in recent years thanks to new technology—and YouTube and Instagram, where the mesmerizing (albeit bloody) process stars in tens of thousands of videos. Here, dermatologist Macrene Alexiades, MD, PhD, who has published extensive research on microneedling, along with fellow Yale clinical professor and dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD demystify the multi-purpose treatment.
Microneedling creates microscopic punctures in the skin.
Simply put, microneedling is the insertion of very fine short needles into the skin for the purposes of rejuvenation, explains Macrene. The most popular (and cost effective) microneedling device, known as a dermaroller, is made up of micro-fine needles that range in diameter from 0.5 and 2.5 millimeters. But, if the prospect of multiple needle wounds sounds slightly ominous to you, know that the punctures are more like pin-pricks that enter only surface-level deep.
Microneedling offers fairly immediate results.
"From microneedling alone, you will look plump, pink and luminous for a couple of weeks. On a short-term basis, it plumps the skin and makes the skin look more radiant from inflammation and very superficial swelling," Alexiades says.
But microneedling also promises improvement over time.
According to a 2008 study, skin treated with four microneedling sessions spaced one month apart produced up to a 400% increase in collagen and elastin six months after completing treatment.
Microneedling stimulates dormant hair follicles.
This equals new hair growth, confirms Gohara. In a recent study, 100 test subjects were divided into two groups: One set was treated with minoxidil lotion and the other received minoxidil lotion plus microneedling. After 12 weeks, 82 percent of the microneedling group reported 50 percent improvement versus 4.5 percent of the minoxidil lotion-only group.
Microneedling can also work to reduce cellulite.
Alexiades works with a new crop of microneedling devices like the Profound by Candela. She uses the machine for crepe-like fine lines as well as sagging skin and cellulite.
Your dermaroller plays well with other skincare treatments.
Alexiades recommends pairing microneedling with topical treatments (like her 37 Extreme Actives anti-aging cream or serum) and lasers. "Oftentimes, we use this as an opportunity to apply anti-aging preparations that will penetrate better through the needle punctures. When you combine with topicals, you have a shot at some collagen building. When combined with radiofrequency, you can see tissue tightening over the course of months," she says.