Microneedling: Benefits, How It Works & How It's Done

Microneedling is aa cosmetic treatment that uses very fine micro-needles to puncture the skin and stimulate the formation of new collagen fibers. It is recommended for removing acne scars, softening stretch marks, eliminating wrinkles, reducing sagging skin and preventing hair loss.

This type of treatment, also known as percutaneous needle collagen induction (PNCI), can be performed with a manual device called Dermaroller or an automatic device called DermaPen. The use of an anesthetic ointment is recommended before starting the procedure to reduce discomfort.

The use of a microneedling device can be done at home or in a costmetic clinic, either by a dermatologist or a qualified professional. It is important to pay attention cleanse the skin and care for it after the procedure to prevent irritation or the emergence of new scars.

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Benefits of microneedling

Microneedling can be indicated for:

  • Rejuvenating the skin
  • Eliminating scars caused by acne or burns
  • Reducing enlarged pores
  • Combating wrinkles and sagging skin
  • Reducing expression lines, especially those around the eyes
  • Lightening skin blemishes or melasma
  • Treating hyperhidrosis

Microneedling can also be used to help treat alopecia, which is characterized by the rapid and sudden loss of hair from the scalp or other areas of the body. 

How it works

Microneedling works by stimulating collagen and elastin production in the skin through the application of devices that contain micro-needles. These needles penetrate evenly into the dermis, which is the layer of tissue that lies between the surface of the outer surface of the skin and the layer of fat.

These small needles cause a controlled injury to the skin, promoting rehealing and skin thickening,

Microneedling for alopecia helps to promote blood vessel dilation to improve local blood circulation and the formation of new vessels. This process also releases growth factors, and increases the expression of proteins, which stimulate hair growth.

How to prepare

Preparation for microneedling generally begins 30 days before the procedure, with the doctor recommending the application of specific creams or products, containing vitamin A or C. These help to stimulate collagen production by the skin.

When consulting a doctor, be sure to inform them if you have any allergies to medications, as an anesthetic ointment is typically used on the skin before starting.

It is also important to inform your doctor of all medications, supplements or vitamins that you take frequently, so that they can assess whether there is a risk for bleeding or interference with skin healing.

How it is done

Microneedling is done with devices that contain multiple very small and very thin needles that are passed over the affected skin. This should ideally be done by a dermatologist in a specialized clinics, using the following steps:

  • Clean the skin to be treated with antiseptic solution
  • Apply a local anesthetic ointment, such as lidocaine or prilocaine, to the entire region to be treated
  • Wait 15 to 45 minutes for the local anesthetic to take effect
  • Remove the anesthetic from the skin with sterile gauze and saline solution
  • Stretch or lengthen the skin with one hand, and use the other to apply the microneedling device

Use the dermaroller device on the skin, passing the roller in horizontal, vertical or diagonal movements. When using the DermaPen automatic pen, the device is slid over the skin, in a direction perpendicular to the stretching of the skin.

Generally, microneedling takes 15 to 20 minutes. After finishing microneedling, the doctor must apply saline compresses to the treated skin.

Does microneedling hurt?

Microneedling can cause pain or discomfort during the procedure, which is why anesthetic ointments are used in the area of skin to be treated.

In some cases, when the doctor uses longer needles to perform microneedling, it may be necessary to perform the procedure in a hospital environment and use general anesthesia or sedation, in order to avoid pain or discomfort.

Care after microneedling

It is normal for the skin to be red and sensitive after microneedling, therefore it is essential to always keep the skin clean and hydrated.

In the first 24 hours after microneedling, avoid using makeup or sunscreen, as these products can irritate the skin. You should ideally avoid exposing the treated area to the sun. Start applying sunscreen on the second day to avoid staining the skin. Furthermore, you should avoid applying any chemicals for 30 days after the procedure.

Types of microneedling

The type of microneedling performed varies according to the device used. The main ones are:

  • Manual device or dermaroller: it is a roller, with fine needles, generally 0.3 or 0.5 mm;
  • Microneedling pen or DermaPen: it is a device that resembles a pen, with microneedles of 0.3 to 3 mm at the tip.

In addition, there is also robotic microneedling or fractional radiofrequency microneedling, which is done with the microneedling device coupled to a radiofrequency device. This enhances the effect of the treatment.

How to use a dermaroller at home

The steps to use the dermaroller at home are:

  • Wash the skin with cold water and mild soap;
  • Apply a generous layer of anesthetic ointment, with lidocaine, for example, and leave it to act for 30-40 minutes;
  • Completely remove the anesthetic from the skin with cotton and cold water or saline solution;
  • Pass the roller over the entire face, 5 times horizontally, 5 times vertically and 5 times diagonally, (15 - 20 times in total) over each region. On the face, you can start with the forehead, then the chin and finally, as it is more sensitive, apply it to the cheeks and the area close to the eyes;
  • After using the roller all over your face, clean your face again, with cotton wool and saline solution;
  • Next, apply the product best suited to your skin type, such as hyaluronic acid, for example, and leave it to act until completely absorbed.

To perform microneedling at home, you must use a Dermaroller device, which has 0.3 or 0.5 mm needles. This type of device is normally used on the face, as larger needles are needed on the body, which should only be used by professionals.

Contraindications for microneedling

Microneedling is contraindicated in the following situations:

  • Very active acne with pimples and blackheads present
  • Cold sores
  • Use of anticoagulant medications such as heparin or aspirin
  • History of allergies to local anesthetic ointments
  • Uncontrolled diabetes 
  • Treatment with radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Skin cancer

In these situations, it is not recommended to carry out this type of treatment without first consulting a dermatologist.