What Is Microneedling?

Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure. It involves pricking the skin with tiny sterilized needles. The small wounds cause your body to make more collagen and elastin, which heal your skin and help you look younger. You might also hear it called collagen induction therapy.

If you’re thinking about trying it, you’ll want to know what it helps with, who shouldn’t get it, and what’s involved -- including the recovery time.

Microneedling for Skin Conditions

Microneedling may help with issues like:

What Happens When You Get Microneedling

Dermatologists (doctors who specialize in skin care and skin disorders) can do microneedling. Aestheticians also do it. If you try it somewhere other than a doctor’s office, first check on the person’s experience and credentials, and make sure that all of the equipment is sterilized. There are do-it-yourself versions of microneedling devices. But dermatologists warn against using those because you might accidentally hurt your skin, and you may not have a good way to sterilize the needles.

The procedure usually takes 10-20 minutes, depending on how big the area is. Most people need 4-6 treatments to see a difference.

First, you’ll get a numbing cream smoothed onto your face so you can’t feel the needle pricks. Then the person doing the microneedling will move a pen-shaped or rolling tool with tiny needles around your face. The needles make small cuts in your skin, which causes a bit of bleeding. Your doctor may spread a cream or serum on your face after that.

The goal of the procedure is to start your body’s healing process by sending collagen and elastin to patch up the tiny injuries. Collagen helps fill in and smooth out wrinkles.

Most people get microneedling on the face, but it can also done on other parts of the body, such as your stomach or thighs.

What to Consider

Microneedling is less expensive than laser treatments, which can cost about four times as much. Microneedling is also better for people with darker skin because it doesn’t involve heat like laser treatments, which can affect your skin’s pigmentation, or color. But laser treatments may give some people better results, so ask your dermatologist what’s best for your skin -- and your budget.

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There are also some downsides to keep in mind:

Healing time. It may take days or weeks to heal, depending on how deep the needles pierce your skin.

Not a quick fix. It takes time to notice a difference. That’s because your body is healing itself. Most people need a few treatments before they see any change.

Pain and redness. You may have some minor pain after the procedure, and your skin may be red for a few days. Your skin may feel tight and flake a bit while it heals.

Possible scarring. Microneedling isn’t a good idea for people who’ve had keloids, scars that look like large bubbles on the skin. It could make the condition worse.

Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure, so insurance doesn’t cover it. Your doctor will tell you how many treatments you need, and give you an idea of how much they’ll cost.

Safety and Costs

Microneedling is considered safe. But like any procedure, it has risks.

You could have an allergic reaction to the cream or serum that goes on your skin after the microneedling. And the wounds might get infected if you don’t keep your skin clean. You should stay away from places that could have lots of germs, like swimming pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans. And don’t use irritating soaps and lotions.

You can also get an infection if the equipment used hasn’t been cleaned well.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 23, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: “Fad beauty treatments: Is there science behind the hype?”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Microneedling: experienced hands can improve the face.”

Cleveland Clinic: “How Microneedling Smooths Your Wrinkles.”

Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology: “Review of applications of microneedling in dermatology.”

Dermatologic Surgery: “Microneedling: A Comprehensive Review.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Needling your way to healthier skin.”

Indian Dermatology Online Journal: “Advances and widening horizons.”

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