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Is Microneedling for You?

Is Microneedling for You?
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BY KITT WALSH

“We suffer for beauty” is a phrase we older women have heard all our lives, so it should come as no surprise that, in increasing numbers, we are adopting a therapeutic tool to combat aging, treat scarring and lessen under-eye bags that contains the word ‘needles’.

Microneedling uses rollers (or pens) and a special microneedling machine for non-surgical and non-ablative (skin removing) treatment of wrinkles, stretch marks, acne and surgical scars and hyperpigmentation caused by years of sun exposure.

Studies show that professional microneedling is more effective than dermabrasion, chemical peels. and laser resurfacing and just as effective as CO2 lasers, Fraxel and IPL treatments (those that stimulate collagen production.)

Home treatment is another story. Lots of stories of skin damage and infection have arisen about those DIYers who buy the equipment online and give it a go themselves.

The treatment uses a small handheld rolling device called a derma roller which is covered with many tiny closely-spaced needles or a pen that pushes out those same little needles. The device is rolled over your skin or the pen pushed over it, creating tiny holes, supposedly not hurting your epidermis. However, the technique can and does often draw blood, meaning you are open to infection (even HIV and hepatitis if a spa doesn’t clean the roller properly after use on an infected person.) It can hurt (which is why a topical anesthetic is used) but the new, smaller microneedling pens used by professionals lessen the pain. For the at-home rollers, in the worse case scenario, the needles or tiny bits of them may break off and be left in the skin!

The idea here is that the roller or pen is creating a controlled injury right under the skin’s surface. Such an injury signals the body to produce more collagen to help heal the treated area. The skin is supposed to plump up and thicken which makes lines, scars and stretch marks lessen.

Does it work? That depends on whom you speak to about it. Some studies show that microneedling truly does work, especially in the treatment of scars, especially when used with other therapy, like the administration of Vitamin C or the use of a 15% trichoroacetic acid (TCA) peel. It has also been effective in getting rid of hyperpigmentation, which sometimes happen after treating acne scars. Microneedling also seems to increase absorption of topically applied skin creams. You have to be very careful about the types of creams used after microneedling (again, ask a professional) and you have to stay out of the sun while being treated.

You can buy a roller for around $40 or a set for $200 and do the procedure yourself. But, do be cautioned, you really should go speak to a doctor about trying itself yourself first before you do it. You should consider having the first treatment done by a professional just to see if you like it and to get advice on doing it yourself (Don’t be surprised if that advice is “Don’t do it!”)

Pressing too hard could cause added trauma to your face and if you buy a needle size too long, results will be extra painful and bloody. Lots of people have reported that after the swelling goes down, nothing much happened (the treatment seems to work best with lip lines and less well for acne scars.) Users have reported larger pores and more whiteheads (pustules, what else?) appearing after using the roller. These issues usually resolve in time.

If you do go to a plastic surgeon, spa or salon, expect to pay between $300-$500 per session and do make sure to ask to see how they sterilize their needles or inquire if they use a new disposable set for each client (the better choice). Walk out if you have any doubts. Also be sure to ask if there are any issues with your particular skin that would make microneedling a bad idea for you.

For acne scarring, depending on the extent, you may need a half a dozen treatments spaced about a month apart, so the procedure can get pricey (also the larger the area treated, the more the treatment costs) and professionals may recommend that you combine microneedling with other treatments, like injectables, to get the best results. The good news is that, if microneedling works and is used with the proper creams or injectable, the results can last up to 10 years. At least you won’t have to suffer for beauty too often.

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