Performed by a skincare professional, microneedling is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses a handheld device containing very fine needles that inflict micro-punctures to the skin. These controlled injuries trigger the skin’s natural repair processes, stimulating collagen and elastin production. This procedure is most commonly used to help improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, stretch marks, and skin texture.
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Also known as collagen induction therapy (CIT) and percutaneous collagen induction (PCI), miconeedling involves the use of a needling device to create micro-injures in the skin for the purpose of skin rejuvenation. In the past few years, it has increased in popularity due to its ability to improve skin texture and firmness, and to diminish scars, pore size, and stretch marks.
Microneedling is administered in various ways. One of the most well-known are dermal rollers, which are cylindrical drums covered in microneedles that are rolled over the skin. Similarly, a dermal stamp punctures a specific area using a stamping action. In 2010, the mechanical microneedling pen was introduced, dramatically boosting the number of micro-punctures in the same amount of time. This latter device is lauded for its precision and ability to reach more difficult areas of the face such as the eyes.
One of the greatest benefits of microneedling is the broad range of application. Microneedling can be used anywhere on the body to improve texture, reduce scarring, and diminish the look of discoloration. Even commonly “off-limits” regions such as the delicate skin around the eyes can be treated (carefully!) with microneedling. This procedure also works well on sunken areas of the skin such as acne scars.
Microneedling is a relatively simple and fast method for safely treating fine lines, wrinkles, and scars. Because the epidermis remains intact, the procedure can be repeated safely and is also suited to regions where laser treatments and deep chemicals peels are not typically performed, such as around the eyes and mouth, hands, and chest. This makes microneedling a preferred treatment for nearly everyone. Fitzpatrick skin types V-VI should consult with an experienced practitioner prior to receiving medical grade microneedling (1.5 mm-3 mm) to avoid triggering a pigment response in the skin.
Simply put, microneedling is a method of triggering the repair response of skin. The needles on a microneedling device puncture the skin to create a controlled skin injury. Each puncture of the needle creates a microscopic channel, or empty space. The skin recognizes this channel as tissue loss and begins to produce collagen and elastin to “fill” the channel. Collagen, is the main structural protein in skin responsible for sustaining skin integrity, firmness, and elasticity. The result is an improvement in skin texture and firmness, as well as a reduction in scars, pore size, and stretch marks. Sometimes, skincare professionals will combine microneedling with topical formulas such as SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 to help complement results.
When opting for miconeedling treatment, it is important to consider the length of the needle being used, as this determines the depth and scope of the treatment. Needle sizes start at 0.1 mm, which only affects the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin), and can range up to 3.0 mm, thus affecting the deepest layer of the skin (the reticular dermis). Lengths between 0.1 mm and 0.3 mm are used for more superficial, cosmetic purposes such as increasing the penetration of topical serums. Fine lines and wrinkles are addressed with needles ranging from 0.5 mm - 1.5 mm. More invasive procedures use needle lengths from 1.5 mm up to 3 mm to reduce scarring, deep wrinkles, and stretch marks.
In-office microneedling treatments can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending upon the area being treated. The length of the needle will affect whether there will be any discomfort or bleeding. Deeper microneedling is generally performed with a numbing cream to maximize patient comfort. Your skincare professional will then roll the microneedling device over your skin to create tiny punctures. The sensation is often described as feeling “prickly”.
Immediately after treatment, your skin may experience redness and minor swelling. These effects generally subside within a day, but can take up to one week to fully resolve. Since your skin is more sensitive following a procedure, it is highly recommended to avoid sun exposure immediately after. Additionally, your skincare professional will likely advise you to avoid wearing makeup 24-48 hours following the treatment.
As with most in-office procedures, microneedling will increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. It is best to schedule microneedling sessions during times when sun exposure will be minimal.
When scheduling your procedure, it is important to remember that while you may see results after one session, it is generally recommended that microneedling be completed in a series of 3-5 treatments every 4-6 weeks, followed by a maintenance program. The frequency of treatments depends upon the desired effect and needle length used. Your skincare professional will work with you to design a treatment plan specifically for your skin.
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While microneedling can be an effective treatment in improving fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars, skin texture, and stretch marks, it is not without risks. If not administered under the right care, it can lead to infection. As a result, it is essential that the procedure is performed by a licensed skincare professional with extensive experience. Experienced skincare professionals will ensure that your treatment is performed in a sterile environment and that you are provided with proper post-procedure instructions. They can also work with you to create a customized advanced homecare regimen to help enhance and maintain results.
It is recommended to incorporate an at-home skincare regimen after microneedling; always consult with your physician for individual at-home advice.
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