Ever feel like the universe is looking out for you? I know that may seem like an exaggeration, and I would agree, but I found it interesting that just as I was starting to research this blog post, and failing to find real, scientific information about dermal micro needling, I discovered that the there was a great article on the subject in the February issue of Les Nouvelles Esthetiques and Spa - A Collagen Boosting Alternative: Dermal Micro Needling. Not only did I come across the article I just mentioned pretty soon after coming across that article I was finding articles about micro needling from legitimate sources in different places. So with the help of these articles let’s jump right into the whole subject of micro needling.
All About Dermal Micro Needling
According to the article from LNE & Spa:
The principle of skin needling is to stimulate the body’s own production of collagen. DMN involves the use of a sterile roller, comprised of a series of fine, sharp needles to puncture the skin. Medical needling is performed under a local anesthetic; the needling device is “rolled” over the surface of the face to create many microscopic channels deep into the dermis of the skin, which stimulates your own body to produce new collagen. At a microscopic level, proliferated skin cells, such as fibroblasts, migrate to the point of injury and transform into collagen fibers, resulting in increased fiber strength and elasticity. This treatment improves your skin by increasing production of collagen, facilitating natural repair and growth and making the skin stronger and thicker. The new collagen fills depressed scars and wrinkles from the bottom up, lifting the depression so they are level with the surrounding skin. This process takes two to three months to produce visible results, and can also help thicken thinner, fine skin types.
There are a few different type of dermal rollers, which is what the dermal micro needling devices are called. The ones designed to be used at home have shorter needles than those used by physicians. Dermal micro needling can be combined with other skincare treatments and products in order to enhance the collagen building results. Additionally, the procedure can be used on all skin types. The side effects are mainly varying degrees of redness; the amount of redness depends on how long the needles used were and how deeply they entered the skin. Potential complications can arise if the healing skin isn’t cared for properly. Those complications can be infection, scarring, an outbreak of cold sores if you are prone to getting them, and even post inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can last up to 12 months. Proper care after treatment involves the use of healing creams or ointments along with a broad spectrum spf for the first day or two after the treatment. Depending on what you want to fix about your skin you may need between 3 to 8 treatments spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.
Yes or No?
To quote the article, again, from LNE & Spa:
DMN has been used successfully to treat fine lines, wrinkles, lax and sun damaged skin to reduce the appearance of stretch marks; improve acne ice pick scars; and induce hair’s regrowth. It has also been used to tighten skin after liposuction. The advantages of this procedure are that the skin becomes thicker, with an increase in collagen deposition exceeding more than 400 percent.
But for all this positive talk about DMN there are naysayers as well. On About.com they have this to say about DMN:
Does It Really Work?
Depends on who you ask. Personally, I’ve seen some pretty dramatic before and after photos – so dramatic, in fact, they made me even more skeptical than before. However, there have been a few scientific studies showing micro-needling to be effective in the treatment of scars. On the other hand, I have seen TV interviews with doctors who have seemed to be saying that its real value lies in its mechanical exfoliation action on the skin. In researching how it works, it seems like it certainly could be effective for at least some of the conditions it claims to treat. However, I also believe that only time will tell just how effective it is, and whether or not it’s worth it.
Furthermore, according to Annet King in her article for The International Dermal Institute - Skin Needling: Hurting or Helping? – there are a lot of variables that one has to keep in mind when considering dermal micro needling:
Effects on the Skin: Medical vs. Skin care
Most of the claims about wrinkle reduction and new collagen growth come from the manufacturers of the rollers or those members of the medical community who are associated (remunerated) by those companies. What’s important to keep in mind is that in most cases, patients in the study also used a topical Retinoic Acid or Retinol based product in conjunction with the skin needling. However some independent dermatologists do claim to see positive scar reduction outcomes in their patients, and another upside is that it does offer a cost effective alternative to fractional laser resurfacing. In general, skin needling is a long term commitment of 1-2yrs of combined in office and at home treatment.
The effects of skin needling differ according to needle gauge, length and the manual pressure that’s used with the roller. Therefore the level of skin invasion and subsequent inflammation on the skin can vary from gentle stimulation to piercing the skin and drawing fluids, i.e. blood and lymph. With the variances of effects skin needling rollers can have, most devices are disposed of in the appropriate biohazard container or are properly sanitized and given directly to the same client for at home use. Whichever method is observed, it is important that correct sanitation measures are followed to prevent the chance of cross contamination from occurring. As with many methods, it’s vital to respect the boundaries of medical, professional, and at-home tools, and skin benefits shouldn’t be confused. Dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and crystal-containing scrubs come to mind! The marketing hype can baffle the end user and incense the professional!
Different Needles Different Outcomes
A roller with wide gauge, short length needles that are under 0.25mm in length is generally non-invasive and cannot cause trauma to the skin, but rather it stimulates and provides gentle exfoliation while increasing superficial circulation. This action, much like manual massage and other electrical modalities, may enhance the penetration and absorption of active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin. Therefore, additional age fighting skin benefits can be achieved when skin needling is combined with products that contain collagen boosting and skin fortifying ingredients like Retinol, Vitamin C and Peptides.
The longer, thinner needles around 1.0mm or 1.5mm in length are more hazardous; the potential for breaking the skin, drawing fluids, causing injury and subsequent risk of infection is much higher. Extreme caution must be used as this is considered highly invasive and high risk. It may also be beyond a skin therapist’s legal scope of practice. Therefore, this procedure is best conducted under medical supervision as adverse reactions and post procedure complications can occur. When the barrier of the skin is compromised to this degree, bacterial skin infections, adverse skin reactions, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and premature aging (due to inflammatory mediators being drawn to the area) can result. Products that are calming and anti-inflammatory would be ideal to soothe any inflammation post needling, and for pre-care the most important aspect is that the skin is thoroughly clean to prevent any possibly risk of infection.
In my opinion the jury is definitely still out on this skin treatment. I would like to see more real scientific research done on the subject before offering a concrete opinion if this is a skincare treatment to pursue. If you are an esthetician who does micro needling I would love for you to comment below, and if you have tried micro needling please comment below as well.
Sources and Further Reading:
A Collagen Boosting Alternative: Dermal Micro Needling - LNE & Spa, February 2012 pages 32 – 36