Micro Needling Might Be Your Answer to Finally-Flawless Skin

woman getting micro needling dermarolling procedure

Professional micro needling; Image: Getty

Micro needling, also known as dermarolling, is an effective, powerful way to prevent the aging process and create a youthful glow. The treatment utilizes small needles to create tiny holes in the skin with the goal of promoting collagen and elastin formation to improve skin texture. Studies have shown that it helps with skin rejuvenation and improves scarring, hyperpigmentation and even stretch marks. It also boosts skin’s absorption powers to allow for deeper product penetration.

The Benefits of Professional Micro Needling

Look for a board-certified dermatologist who has expertise in the procedure. “There are several types of professional micro needling devices (with the Eclipse MicroPen being the most popular), but they all work similarly in that the device is set to a certain depth and the number of passes — which is ultimately how thorough the treatment will be — are both determined by the practitioner,” explains Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center. In other words, there’s risk of infection, inflammation, scarring and other potential side effects if micro needling isn’t performed properly.

Size Matters

The micro needling devices employed by dermatologists often have needle depths ranging from 0.5 millimeters to 3 millimeters. These large needles stimulate greater collagen production, but can cause discomfort and require a few days of downtime. According to Tanzi, recovery is generally easy, but expect your skin to be red and a little flaky for several days.

Topping It Off

“Dermatologists often use a numbing cream to make the procedure comfortable and thoroughly clean the skin to minimize risk of infection. They may also select a special topical solution or gel to be applied to the skin with micro needling. The procedure can vary depending on the approach taken. Some derms choose to use an individual’s own platelet-rich plasma (PRP) — which is derived from that individual’s own blood — and apply that as a topical solution to enhance the effects of the treatment and stimulate stem cells. [This procedure is commonly referred to as the vampire facial],” says Dr. Sue Ann Wee, a top-ranked dermatologist who specializes in laser and cosmetic dermatology at Schweiger Dermatology Group.

Suitable for Most Skin Types

“Since micro needling lacks the heat and specific targeting of structures associated with lasers, dermatologists can perform the procedure on most skin types and skin tones with potentially fewer side effects than some laser procedures,” notes Wee. “However, individuals who have recently been on isotretinoin, have a history of hypertrophic or keloidal scarring and/or any rash or infection on the treatment area should avoid it.”

The Next Gen Devices

“There are now FDA-approved devices, such as the Fractora device by InMode Aesthetic Solutions that combine micro needling with radiofrequency energy. This involves a matrix of tiny needles that deliver a burst of radiofrequency energy down tiny pins into the skin. Studies have shown significant improvement in wrinkles, scarring, loose skin and even acne,” says Wee.

Though professional micro needling treatments stimulate greater collagen production than the ones you can perform at home, the procedure tends to be quite costly, averaging over $1,000 per treatment with a minimum of four treatments necessary to obtain visible results for deeper lines. At-home micro needling isn’t nearly as expensive. Below, we explore the effectiveness of doing it on your own and whether it is right for you.

The Benefits of At-Home Micro Needling

At-home micro needling is a great way to get an instant glow. Over time and with continued use, dermarolling can show very nice results. It will plump, refine and hydrate your skin. Plus, you’ll notice your makeup will start to go on smoother as your skin becomes more comely and even. Since it’s less invasive than the in-office procedure (the at-home roller superficially pierces skin unlike the pro types, which puncture much deeper), there’s little downtime. You can even do this an hour or two before an event or a date.

And though the tiny pinpricks from the smaller needles may be somewhat shallow, the microchannels created are still deep enough for the anti-aging nutrients to penetrate skin and bolster product effectiveness. “The main benefits to at-home dermarolling is that it significantly increases absorption of active ingredients by greater than 90 percent, making this procedure one of the most powerful and effective ways to stop early signs of aging and prevent new fine lines and wrinkles from occurring,” says Kerry Benjamin, celebrity esthetician and founder of StackedSkincare.

The treatment works best with serums that have active ingredients, such as stem cells, peptides and hyaluronic acid. “These ingredients really maximize the effects of micro needling to stimulate collagen, speed up cell turnover, lift hyperpigmentation, smooth out fine lines, plump, hydrate and firm skin.”

When performing the treatment at home, be sure to use a dermaroller with 0.3 millimeter needles or smaller. (Try StackedSkincare Collagen Boosting Micro-Roller.) The smaller needles are safer and less painful than their larger counterparts, plus you won’t experience bleeding because of the extremely small point size.

“There’s absolutely no downtime and you can apply as much pressure as you are comfortable with. You’ll truly get amazing benefits from doing this three to five times a week with absolutely no pain,” enthuses Benjamin. Needles that are 0.5 millimeters and larger stimulate epidermal growth factors to boost collagen and elastin that plump and firm skin. “However, the use of these larger needles [which puncture skin deeper] is typically done in a professional setting and is not advised to use at home,” warns Benjamin.

When micro needling yourself, “cleanse your skin. Apply serum all over face, neck, under eyes and crow’s feet. Using the dermaroller, roll horizontally, vertically and diagonally twice over each section of your face: the cheeks, chin, lips, forehead and neck. Then apply another layer of serum. Moisturize. Lastly, smooth on SPF if going out for the day,” instructs Benjamin.

Additional At-Home Micro Needling Tips

Replace Your Rollers Frequently

Like razor blades, the needles dull over time. Thus, replace every month if you use the dermaroller three to five times a week; otherwise, you’ll damage your skin.

Sanitize Your Roller Before Using

Clean your hands and face before beginning treatment. To minimize infection, dip your dermaroller into rubbing alcohol to cleanse it, then rinse off. Always disinfect your roller after every use.

Do a Patch Test When Using a New Serum

“The increased absorption has its advantages and disadvantages. When certain products are used (like pure hyaluronic gel), desired absorption is helpful. However, the increased absorption can also mean too much irritation with stronger potions, so always check with your provider about what to use,” advises Tanzi. It’s also wise “to conduct a patch test of the serum on your cheek and wait for 24 hours to see if there are any adverse reactions,” adds Benjamin. If there are none, the serum is safe to use all over the area.

Never Micro Needle Over a Breakout

“You will spread bacteria and cause a major infection,” warns Benjamin. Wait for your acne to clear up before proceeding with treatment.

Layer Different Serums to Treat Multiple Concerns

“You want to always apply products thinnest to thickest,” advises Benjamin. She likes layering an epidermal growth factor serum like StackedSkincare EGF Activating Serum, followed by one containing peptides and then finishing off with a hyaluronic serum.

Use Retinols at Night

After rolling with your usual serum, apply a retinol in the evening for maximum skin benefits. Benjamin suggests doing a spot check on your cheek the first time around to test for any sensitivity. If there is no irritation after 24 hours, apply to the rest of your face. You may need to build up to this, though. Stick to one weekly treatment until you know how your skin reacts, then increase accordingly. “Your skin will adjust; just give it time,” she adds.

Combat Undereye Circles

Micro needling can help thicken the epidermis under your eyes, which in effect will reduce the appearance of dark circles around your peepers. “The orbital darkness we often see is usually due to blood under the skin; thus, if the skin is more plump under the eye, the darkness should be diminished,” theorizes Benjamin. Use the roller with a peptide or hydrating serum for best results.

Don’t Forget to Tackle Your Neck, Chest and Back of Hands

“These are areas that we often overlook, but they are often the first places that show signs of aging,” says Benjamin.