Microneedling Revisited: Is It Really the Next Big Thing?

What is Microneedling?

Microneedling, also known as Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), has become increasingly popular as a minimally invasive method of skin rejuvenation. Microneedling is a treatment during which multiple fine needles in a hand-held device make small, depth-controlled injuries to the deep layer of the skin. This causes the skin to remodel its existing collagen as well as produce new collagen, elastin, and blood vessels to fill these tiny channels. The goal is increased skin thickness, reduction in fine lines and pore size, and an overall improved skin texture. Microneedling is also one of the only non-surgical treatments that has been shown to improve the appearance of stretch marks.

 Bellus Medical Skin Pen (www.skinpen.com), example of medical-grade microneedling device

Bellus Medical Skin Pen (www.skinpen.com), example of medical-grade microneedling device

While increasingly popular recently, the technique of microneedling is not new.  In fact, its first advocate was the French physician Dr. Michael Pistor in the early 1950’s. Various forms of skin needling have been used around the world for nearly 6 decades.

Microneedling is in a category of minimally invasive skin resurfacing treatments all aimed at improving skin quality and appearance. What differentiates microneedling from its laser and chemical peel counterparts, however, is that microneedling causes essentially no downtime. Equally as attractive, the procedure is appropriate for nearly all skin tones. Unlike laser and chemical peels, microneedling has minimal risk of permanent pigment changes in darker skinned individuals. Another unique feature of microneedling is its beneficial effect on acne scars and stretch marks, which have traditionally been refractory to non-surgical treatments.


What is the Process?

Microneedling begins with a skin analysis to determine the issues to be addressed. Based on this analysis, the depth of the needle is chosen. After the face is cleansed, a topical numbing cream is applied. Once the skin is numb, the microneedling begins. Although small needles penetrate the skin, most patients describe it as feeling like a “vibrating facial” with little to no discomfort.

Microneedling is often combined with a topical liquid such as vitamin C, growth factors, or platelet-rich-plasma (PRP), which is micro punctured into the dermis. This combination allows greater delivery of the nutrients to the skin, thereby enhancing the results. Combining microneedling with PRP is an example of the “vampire facial” made popular by celebrities including Kim Kardashian.

 Kim Kardashian, credit: Instagram (www.instagram.com/kimkardashian)

Kim Kardashian, credit: Instagram (www.instagram.com/kimkardashian)

What Happens Afterward?

The endpoint of microneedling treatment is skin redness and small areas of punctate bleeding. The redness appears and feels similar to sunburn and lasts several hours. By the next day, typically most redness has dissipated and the improvements start to become visible.


Does Microneedling Actually Work?

The data suggests that microneedling achieves what it promises. Several well-controlled studies have shown that when done properly and repeatedly, microneedling improves the appearance of pitted scars, and fine wrinkles. Microneedling has also been shown to improve the appearance of stretch marks when done in a series of 3 treatments spaced one month apart. Additionally, when studied in the longer term, microneedling has demonstrated continued improvement in appearance in the 12 months that follow treatment.

So if you are looking for smoother skin and you can handle a few needles, microneedling is worth a shot (pun intended).


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2. Aust MC, Reimers K, Repenning C, Stahl F, Jahn S, Guggenheim M, et al. Percutaneous collagen induction: Minimally invasive skin rejuvenation without risk of hyperpigmentation-fact or fiction. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;122:1553–63
3. Zeitter S, et al. Microneedling: Matching the results of medical needling and repetitive treatments to maximize potential for skin regeneration. Burns. 2014 Aug;40(5):966-73.
4. Doddaballapur S. Microneedling with Dermaroller. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. 2009;2(2):110-111. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.58529.
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By Dr. Jennifer Weintraub of Duet Plastic Surgery - Expert Plastic Surgeon