Collagen Induction Therapy, also known as Microneedling or Percutaneous Collagen Induction (PCI) is a minimally-invasive, medical-grade, skin rejuvenation procedure in which a mechanical device is use to make thousands of painless needle punctures in your skin. This controlled depth trauma to your skin induces it to make more collagen and elastin which leads to more glowing, youthful skin. French physician, Michael Pistor, was among one of the first supporters of collagen induction therapy. In the 1990s, another surgeon, Andre Camirand, used inkless tattoo guns to treat postoperative scars, but it was Dr. Des Fernandes from South African, who introduced a skin microneedling roller for treating fine lines around the mouth in 1996.
A brief science lesson on collagen and elastin
Why is collagen and elastin important and why do we want more of it in our skin? Collagen is a protein that is made from fibroblasts in the dermal layer of your skin. The dermis lays below the epidermis (the part of your skin that you can see). Collagen is the main component of the dermis and of other connective tissues in the body. 80% of the dermis is collagen and its job is to give the dermis strength. Elastin, as its name suggests, is a protein that gives your skin elasticity. In other words, it is elastin that allows your skin to “snap back” after being stretched or pulled. As we age, the amount of collagen and elastin decreases and without the support from collagen and the elasticity of elastin, our skin starts to wrinkle and sag. #awesome
Not only do the tiny punctures induce collagen and elastin formation but they also create tiny channels in the skin that serve as entry ports for your beauty and skin products such vitamin serums and growth factor creams. If you receive collagen induction therapy with a physician, the therapy can be combined with growth factors, stem cell rich PRP, vitamin C and vitamin E to enhance the collagen and elastin induction.
Let’s break down what stem cell rich PRP means. PRP stands for platelet rich plasma and stem cell rich, means that the platelet rich plasma is also rich in stem cells. Plasma is the liquid component of blood (as opposed to the cellular component). Within the plasma are growth factors, vitamins and other proteins that have specific jobs to do while using the blood in your body as a transport mechanism. Research has shown that platelets, a type of blood cell that helps your body form clots, also carry a ton of growth factors. The thought is that after a clot is form, the tissue in that area needs repair and the platelets slowly release growth factors into the area of injury.
Within the beauty field, researchers and physicians have decided to harvest the regenerative and healing powers of platelets to help boost collagen and elastin formation in the skin. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the potential to become new skin cells. When your physician applies platelet rich plasma that is also rich in stem cells, they are adding growth factors to stimulate more collagen and elastin formation. If this is done at the time of microneedling, the same channels that are made by the microneedles increase the dept of penetration and absorption of the PRP and growth factors into your skin and increases the stimulation of collagen and elastin production. Studies have shown the combination of microneedling with PRP is particularly effective for the treatment of post-acne scars.
Is Microneedling Safe?
Collagen Induction Therapy has been shown to be safe for all skin tones, ethnicities, races (Cohen BE, Elbuluk N. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016) and it can be done as often as every 6 weeks or as little as once a year, depending on your skin texture, age and concerns. Collagen induction therapy is excellent for all types of skin texture and complexion issues such as fine lines, pigment spots, dullness, acne scars, enlarged pores, dark spots, stretch marks and scars, as demonstrated by a recent review of the literature (Hou A et al. ermatol Surg. 2016).
There are a lot of different devices and systems that vary in diameter and length of the needles. Medical-grade microneedling means that the needle depth ranges between 2-7 millimeters so if you are thinking of purchasing an at-home system or getting therapy at a spa, anything less than two millimeters is more of skin exfoliation and not collage induction therapy. Even though at home systems may not be deep enough to induce collagen formation, the exfoliation is still a great addition to your skin care regimen in an effort to stop early signs of aging or prevent new fine lines and wrinkles.
All procedures have some risks but the risks with collagen induction therapy are overall pretty low. It is important, however, to never have the treatment done (or use an at-home system) over active acne or an active skin infection; the punctures from the microneedles can cause bacteria to spread to other parts of your skin and cause new acne pustules or skin infections. People with sensitive skin can expect their face to have some redness to it and if you are sensitive to skin products, that sensitivity will be heightened since the products will travel deeper into the skin via the newly made skin channels. Avoid trying a skin care product immediately after microneedling. Also, if you are using an at-home system, do not share your dermaroller even if you clean it. You can still spread bacteria and infection between users. You can expect for your skin to be red for about 8 hours after your procedure but you will be able to return to work the next day. Some individuals may experience more prolonged redness or darkening of their skin, called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Collagen induction therapy truly is a great addition to your skin care regimen as it therapeutic for all ages and can help in the treatment of a variety of skin issues.
Have you tried microneedling? Let us know what your experience was like at @beautyrefinedMD on Instagram and Facebook or leave a comment on our website, www.beautyrefinedMD.com.