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Microneedling

Updated: Dec 16, 2023


• A procedure that uses tiny needles to treat scars, enlarged pores, wrinkles, and stretch marks • The procedure causes short-term swelling, redness, and skin flaking • The procedure may cause short-term swelling, redness, and skin flaking • Involves dermatologic surgery



Overview

Wrinkles, acne scars, enlarged pores, and stretch marks can make people feel self-conscious about the uneven appearance of their skin. There are many methods of treatment —from lasers to chemical peels to microdermabrasion. Another minimally invasive option is microneedling, a nonsurgical procedure.

Though the thought of needles may make you cringe, microneedling is not painful. We generally apply a topical anesthetic cream beforehand to help numb the area being treated. It has few side effects other than temporary redness and swelling post-treatment. Microneedling typically has a shorter recovery time compared to the lasers or chemical peels that are also used to help resurface the skin and improve its texture.



What is microneedling?



Microneedling, also called percutaneous collagen induction therapy, is performed using a handheld, pen-shaped device, with tiny needles that make punctures in the skin. These “micro-injuries” do not leave scars; they work by helping to stimulate the skin to repair itself naturally through a process called dermal remodeling.


This process starts with inflammation, which stimulates the skin to produce new collagen (the elastic fibers that make skin tight, smooth, and youthful). Collagen levels in the skin decline as we age, and new collagen can be produced when the skin is in repair mode.


Three to five monthly or biweekly treatments are recommended to achieve desired results. Through a series of sessions, microneedling can increase elastic skin fibers. Microneedling also helps the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin), which naturally thins with age, become thicker and tauter.




What conditions does microneedling treat?


Microneedling is used to treat a variety of skin conditions that cause depressions in the skin such as acne scarring, surgical scars, other scars, burns, enlarged pores, wrinkles, and stretch marks. (The procedure is less effective on deep, narrow “ice-pick” acne scars than on broader ones.)


Microneedling does not deliver heat to the skin like lasers do. As a result, people who have melasma (dark patches of skin) and hyperpigmentation (dark spots on the skin) can undergo microneedling without the risk of worsening pigmentation problems. (Darker skin is susceptible to pigmentation changes as a post-inflammatory response.)



Microneedling is sometimes used to help topical skin treatments to penetrate the skin more effectively. For example, microneedling is sometimes performed before application of minoxidil, used to treat common hair loss (androgenic alopecia, which affects both men and women).



What are the side effects of microneedling?


There are a few temporary side effects to be aware of with microneedling. The procedure causes short-term swelling, redness, and skin flaking, which can last for a few days. Most people can return to wearing regular makeup within a day of treatment. Skin will be more sun-sensitive after treatment, so sunscreen is also advised.



Microneedling may worsen active breakouts, so people with active inflammatory acne or oral herpes should not be treated with microneedling until the lesions have cleared. Those with a history of oral herpes may be prescribed an oral antiviral medication for one week following treatment because the procedure may stimulate a new cold sore.




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