Microneedling for Optimal Skin Health
Welcome to the Practice of Microneedling
If you haven’t already tried microneedling, you’ve been missing out on the latest beauty trend that’s transforming skincare routines around the globe. From rejuvenating aging skin, correcting hyperpigmentation and age spots, to improving volume and acne scars, microneedling addresses these and many more skin related issues. These are just some of the benefits of this minimally invasive aesthetic technique that beauty gurus are reporting.
Many celebrities credit microneedling as a powerful tool in their skincare arsenal that helps to keep them looking young and beautiful. And recently, microneedling has gathered a mainstream following. It’s become so ubiquitous in fact, that reality TV personality Kim Kardashian broadcasted her “vampire facial” which involved microneedling using her own plasma.
Although it’s gaining popularity, the practice of microneedling actually started decades ago. This treatment has been researched by dermatologists and plastic surgeons such as Dr. Desmond Fernandes, who is actually credited with inventing the modern dermaroller. Thanks to skin science and Fernandes’ invention, problematic and aging skin can be drastically improved.
Findings from clinical studies in well-respected peer-reviewed journals have established a significant body of evidence that shows that microneedling is a technique capable of improving acne scars, diffusing discoloration, and smoothing wrinkles.
Thankfully, the secret is finally out, and microneedling is available for those wanting to optimize their skin’s appearance.
What Is Microneedling
Medically speaking, microneedling is the practice of repeatedly penetrating the skin with medical-grade needles at a controlled depth. Tiny, micro-thin needles set to lengths between .25 mm and 2.5 mm (depending on the treatment plan) are attached to a device that carefully and repeatedly penetrates the skin. Microscopic wounds are created which trigger the body’s natural healing process and stimulate regenerative proteins.
With each pass surgical-grade needles pierce the epidermal or the dermal layers (best performed by medical professionals). As the body repairs these microscopic injuries, new skin cells, collagen, and elastin are formed, and it’s this regeneration process that restores skin to a more youthful state with fewer blemishes.
Why Should You Consider Microneedling?
It has never been easier to get effective skincare products, but it’s a daunting challenge to pick the right regimen. For many, it’s an expensive trial and error process to find a combination of products that work without breaking budgets. More invasive but proven aesthetic procedures such as laser and radio frequency treatments offered by physician-led clinics come with a laundry list of potential side effects. On occasion, these powerful medical treatments cause more damage than good.
However, microneedling can be a minimally invasive treatment that studies confirm stimulates collagen growth. Compared to many laser treatments, it has fewer side effects and minimal downtime, which means you can have this treatment performed during lunch and return to work. There are many treatment options for microneedling. From affordable at home treatments, to spa or medical grade procedures, the costs and the depth of treatment is up to you.
A major advantage of microneedling is that when properly performed there is a lower risk of hyperpigmentation. This means that its suitable for the majority of candidates, including those with olive complexions or darker skin tones. But perhaps the most compelling is the evidence that microneedling simply works.
How Collagen Keeps You Looking Young
Microneedling often goes by another name: Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT). Collagen are proteins in the body that in addition to being the building blocks of connective tissue, bones, tendons, and muscles, they’re responsible for forming the layer of dense connective tissue under the skin. It’s this spongy layer that gives skin its pliability, and is the key to keeping your face looking plump and youthful. Unfortunately, your ability to produce collagen declines with age.
Think of collagen like a bathtub that is slowly draining. In our youth, the collagen faucet is on and can replace any of these extracellular matrix-building cells that break down and migrate away from the skin’s surface due to environmental exposure and the aging process. But that faucet naturally begins to turn off as we age, eventually slowing down to a trickle in our 30s, and 40s, which means it no longer can replace collagen as quickly as the body is losing it. As a result, skin loses its plumpness and begins to sag. Without a thick layer of tissue keeping skin tight and smooth, wrinkles form, and pores become more noticeable. In short, your skin starts to look, feel, and act old.
To erase these signs of aging, you need to turn the collagen faucet back on. Microneedling stimulates the body to produce these cells by inflicting controlled micro-wounds on the skin’s epidermis or beyond. These superficial wounds kick off a cascade of cellular activity that tells the body to rally its growth factors and other healing cytokines to the site of the injury to repair the microchanneled area.
This regenerative process heals the broken skin barrier with newly formed collagen, elastin, and skin cells. In addition to restoring the epidermis so it can continue to perform its protective role, it firms the skin, improves texture, and diffuses discoloration. In other words, the skin returns to a younger more youthful looking state.
Benefits of Microneedling
Other alternatives to microneedling to stimulate collagen include topically applied ingredients, such as tretinoin (retinoids), certain peptides, and Vitamin C. However, it’s a slow process that depends on correctly formulated and maintained products. For more immediate and drastic results, certain light and energy therapies can burn off dark spots and outer layers of the skin, but they often are expensive, require significant downtime, or may produce undesirable side effects, such as hyperpigmentation, scars, and fat loss if not performed correctly.
This is where microneedling neatly fits in an aesthetic treatment plan. Microneedling is considered minimally invasive treatment with little to no side effects. Some practitioners refer to it as a “universal” skincare technique because it can be performed on most individuals regardless of their skin tone. It also is suitable for treating a range of aesthetic needs.
While it’s most commonly used as an anti-aging procedure for the face, it can be used anywhere on the body that would benefit from a little collagen boost or skin rejuvenation. Here are some of the ways people are benefiting from microneedling:
- Reduce wrinkles and fine lines
- Repair acne scars and scar tissue
- Diffuse hyper- and hypo-pigmentation
- Fade stretch marks
- Tighten loose skin
- Regrow hair
- Increase collagen and elastin
Results for microneedling can vary depending on the type of device used. There are several on the market available for home or professional use, and they fall largely into categories of either manual or automatic rolling or stamping devices.
Dermal rollers are microneedles of a fixed length attached to a hand-held barrel-shaped tool that rolls over the skin surface.
Dermal stamps are microneedles of a fixed length attached to a hand-held tool with a flat mechanical stamp or automated “pens.”
Cosmetic vs. Medical
Microneedling is often talked about in very broad terms, but there are really two types: cosmetic and medical. The difference between the two are the length of needles used, and the treatment environment.
Cosmetic microneedling uses tiny needles that are less than .5mm in length. While this depth doesn’t penetrate beyond the epidermis, it’s still shown to stimulate collagen production in the body. Cosmetic microneedling is considered safe to be performed at home, and can be used to treat superficial signs of aging as part of a comprehensive skincare routine.
Medical microneedling uses needles that are between .5mm to 2.5mm in length. Because of the potential to penetrate into the dermis and subcutaneous layer with longer needles, it should be performed only by licensed and trained medical professionals in a sterile environment.
Both modalities will generate collagen at the treatment site, and there are advantages to each method.
Home microneedling if often used as a way to stretch the time between professional microneedling treatments to suit schedules and budgets. It offers flexibility and control, but it is up to the user to ensure it is performed safely. That means microneedling devices need to be sterilized prior to each use, and inspected for dull or bent needles.
Professional microneedling can produce significant results in a shorter amount of time, but it does that by penetrating the dermis to break up scar tissue and trigger a greater immune response. Inflamed skin needs to be treated carefully to prevent additional irritation and prevent infection.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other--they can be used in concert to create a continuous cycle of rejuvenation.
Improving Results with Serums
Serums can be added in both settings to boost results, but users need to ensure that whatever is being put on their skin is 100% pure, sterile, and hypoallergenic. Many products applied during or after treatment contain synthetic ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction as it penetrates past the skin’s protective barrier, or worse—embed artificial ingredients like silicone. Whenever you’re treating your skin, you should proceed with caution.
Could Microneedling Help You?
Studies show that microneedling is safe and beneficial for a range of skincare and other aesthetic issues, and can be performed on a diverse population--including those with skin types Fitzpatrick Type I through VI. Although it’s considered a universal treatment, not everyone is a candidate.
Because microneedling relies on the body’s immune system to achieve a desirable outcome, it’s important that candidates are in good health. Individuals that are sick, pregnant, or have compromised immune systems are advised to abstain from this treatment until optimal health has returned. Age is another factor to consider. The body’s regenerative process slows as people age, which means that older patients may take longer to heal and display results.
Microneedling should be performed only on healthy, unbroken skin. This means that patients with current acne breakouts, open wounds or cold sores, or eczema should wait for their skin to heal fully prior to the procedure to begin their skin transformation journey.