Microneedling, also known as percutaneous collagen induction therapy, is mainly used for the treatment of acne scarring, fine wrinkles, and stretch marks.
How Microneedling Works
It works by inducing many tiny wounds in the skin in the form of microchannels created by many fine needles introduced into the skin in such a way that they minimize damage to the uppermost layer of the skin (epidermis) and stimulate the wound healing cascade in the lower level of the skin (dermis).
This controlled injury to the dermis results in the release of multiple growth factors, new fine blood vessel growth, remodeling of existing collagen, and new collagen and elastin deposition. Collagen gives the skin strength while elastin allows the skin to stretch and snap back to its original state. Collagen and elastin deposition and maturation in the dermis leads to skin tightening and the reduction of fine lines, which makes microneedling useful for total facial rejuvenation, as well as the treatment of acne scars, certain types of post-traumatic scars, stretch marks, and fine lines (especially around the mouth and eyes). It also breaks apart the thicker abnormal collagen bundles present in scars.
Since it takes time for collagen and elastic to form and mature, there is at least a 6-8 week lag time from the first microneedling treatment to visible improvement in the skin. Therefore, it is important to not expect immediate results. The best results are obtained when patients receive a series of at least 3-6 treatments that are spaced 2-4 weeks apart. Although not required, some patients prefer to return once or twice yearly for a single session to help maintain or improve the appearance of their skin.
Sometimes purified forms of topical vitamin A and topical vitamin C are used immediately after microneedling. These vitamins are known to be important in the production of new collagen and applying them immediately after treatment enhances their penetration deeper into the skin. Applying some topical products and medications immediately after microneedling can cause allergic reactions. So it is extremely important to only use products recommended by your doctor.
Minimal Risks with Microneedling
The risks and side effects of microneedling are minimal, especially in comparison to other facial rejuvenation procedures such as deep chemical peels, dermabrasion, or laser therapy. There is little discomfort during the procedure since a topical anesthetic is applied to the face for about 30 minutes prior to the procedure. Mild redness, swelling, flaking and bruising are common after treatment. It usually resolves within 48-72 hours but may last 5-7 days after treatment.
In general, microneedling does not cause darkening of the skin, and may even help lighten dark skin and improve uneven skin tone. However, people who have had recent sun exposure or who are tanned should not be treated until the tan has completely resolved, and should avoid sun exposure soon after treatment.
People with the following conditions should not be treated with microneedling: (a) active inflammatory conditions such as acne (b) active herpes sores or other infections in the areas to be treated; (c) a tendency to form thick scars called keloids; and (d) a suppressed immune system. Patients who have a history of cold sores are at increased risk of having reactivation of the herpes virus that causes those sores, and so they are treated with a one-week course of antiviral medication, starting on the day of the procedure.
If a consultation with Dr.Baker determines that microneedling is the best procedure to achieve your cosmetic goals, then you will be asked to return without makeup on your face or remove your makeup while in the office by using cosmetic cleansing wipes and a gentle skin cleanser. Once the face is completely clean, then a hyaluronic acid gel is applied to the skin and used as a lubricant while the electric pen is moved back and forth over the surface of the skin. As the electric pen moves over the skin, multiple fine needles in the sterile tip of the pen rapidly penetrate the surface of the skin very superficially to produce fine pinpoint bleeding. After the procedure, our patients are provided with special gels, moisturizers, and sunscreens to apply to the treated skin frequently during the week following microneedling. Only mineral-based makeup can be applied starting 2 days after the procedure. Physical (nonchemical) sunblocks should be applied on top of facial moisturizer daily, especially during the first week after therapy. Facial rejuvenation products should not be applied until 5-7 days after microneedling, once all redness and scaling have completely resolved.
There are many microneedling devices available, the most common of which are the older style manual roller drums containing multiple fine needles and newer style electric powered pens. Electric pens are superior to roller drums since the electric pens allow for a safer and more customized microneedling experience by allowing the physician to adjust the depth and speed of needle penetration; replace sterile needle tips after each patient; and treat smaller sections of the face where rolling drums are difficult to use, such as the upper lip. We use the Collagen P.I.N. device, an electric powered pen that has disposable sterile needle tips. The Collagen P.I.N. allows the microneedling treatment to be customized to each area of the face or body as it has disposable needle tips containing 12-36 needles, and both the speed and depth of penetration can be adjusted.
More Affordable Than Laser
Microneedling is more affordable than laser resurfacing and does not have its associated risks. It is safer than lasers for patients with darker skin tones. Although laser resurfacing or dermabrasion are very effective, they have a longer post-procedure downtime than microneedling.
If you are bothered by fine lines and uneven skin tone or want to improve your acne scarring or stretch marks, then be sure to ask your dermatologist if you are a candidate for microneedling.
If you are locally in the Gibbsboro, Voorhees or Cherry Hill area, call (856) 782-8688 to schedule an appointment.