Should you Microneedle?

Microneedling or derma rolling, is a collagen induction therapy, that has been use by dermatologists with good results to treat various conditions such as scarring, skin pigmentation, stretch marks, and wrinkles.

This technique uses a roller with hundreds of tiny needles or a (stamp) pen to punctures the skin and essentially create wounds. This intentional trauma to the skin causes the body to produce more collagen and other healing compounds to repair these wounds.

Collagen along with soft keratin is responsible for skin strength and elasticity and keeps the skin looking youthful, firm and tight, while a breakdown or loss of collagen leads to wrinkles and other signs of aging. Increasing collagen production is the aim of microneedling when seeking skin rejuvenation or repair.

Microneedling is also a transdermal drug delivery method that allow medications or topicals to further penetrate into the deeper layers of skin, enhancing a specific treatment.  This can be seen in the use of  microneedling and minoxidil in scalp for hair loss or microneedling and platelet- rich plasma for skin treatment. 

Skin Thickness

Why and where the microneedling will be done is important. Because skin is not uniform in thickness, face and body can be treated differently. Even facial thickness is a factor as shown in clinical study where it was explained that if the upper eyelid is average skin thickness, then the nasal tip skin thickness was 3.30 times thicker and the brow/forehead was 2.8 times thicker. 2 What this means to a professional clinician with in office devices is they can vary the depth of needle depending on what quadrant of face they are working on or what part of the body. Something that cannot be done with a derma roller.

Skin evaluation is another factor. Not all people can be treated with microneedling, for example people who have active acne, bleeding disorders, melasma or keloids may not be good candidates.

Needle Size Matters

Needle size varies when addressing different treatments and can range from 0.5mm to 3mm.  If skin rejuvenation or wrinkle treatment is desired, collagen boosting starts at 0.5mm needle size. 3

Many derma rollers sold for at home use are 0.25mm and will not produce collagen, so they are essentially creating tiny holes in skin without the collagen benefit.  Longer needled motorized devices are usually rated as “medical” not “cosmetic” and are not available to the public. .4  

Most dermatologist if they recommend derma rollers at all, would not recommend over 0.5mm needle length for in home use.

So, what does all this mean for the consumer?  If you want to facilitate exfoliation of the skin, improve the appearance of skin, give skin a smoother or more luminous look the in home 0.25 derma rollers can achieve this objective. But if you are targeting wrinkles and want to increase collagen production, a longer needle is reportedly required.


It should be noted, most dermatologist combine Radio Frequency or insulated RF with the microneedling. This enhances the treatment, even further increasing the collagen production. These devices are microneedling pen which come with disposable tips to ensure needle sharpness, (lessening the likelihood of skin tearing) and to decreases risk of infection.

At home devices that are properly cleaned, are suggested for about 10 treatments before they should be discarded. Some dermatologist encourages a single treatment then discarding.

Numbing and Aftercare

If you are getting a professional treatment, a numbing agent is applied to the face prior to the procedure, since the in office objective is to create pin point bleeding, as stated before to intentional injury the skin.

If an inpatient treatment is prohibitive due to the cost, often around a hefty $250 per treatment and you have decided to try a derma roller than make skin safety your priority.

At home skin safety tips

  • Your new derma roller should be cleaned with alcohol
  • Your face should be thoroughly cleaned with a produce like Cetaphil. Think clean basic products, no additives or perfumes.
  • It is suggested you numb your skin if you are using 0.5mm derma roller. There are various numbing creams available on the market.

How to actually derma roll, watch videos like Dr. David Lim, a dermatologist, on you tube, who demonstrates how to properly use a derma roller and what areas to avoid and why. Contrary to what many say diagonal rolling is not encouraged.

After moisturize your skin with again a clean product with no active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, tretinoin, etc. Avoid makeup and sun for at least 48hours, then apply a mineral bases sunscreen.

Do plenty of research and watch videos like Dr.Dray , another dermatologist who gives more cautionary advice and outlines the lengthy steps that are taken to ensure proper skin healing after microneedling.

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