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What is microneedling?

Microneedling (aka collagen-induction therapy) is a nonsurgical treatment that penetrates your skin’s surface with tiny needles to improve its appearance. It may sound a little medieval, but most sin rejuvenation treatments, whether laser or a chemical peel, trigger a similar kind of wound-healing response to create a structural and cosmetic benefit.

The procedure can help smooth lines and wrinkles, even skin tone (including stubborn melasma), refine enlarged pores, tighten skin, and fade scars and stretch marks.

What are the benefits of microneedling?

By creating microscopic punctures in the skin, microneedling creates thousands of tiny injuries. This triggers a healing response that releases a cascade of growth factors, which in turn boosts production of the body’s own collagen (the protein fibers that keep skin smooth and supple).

It’s a form of fractional treatment, which means only a fraction of the skin’s surface is affected. This means that recovery time is relatively short.

What happens during a microneedling treatment?

Microneedling can be painful, so about an hour prior to the procedure, a topical anesthetic cream will be applied to the target area.

Once you’re numb, your skin is cleansed and dried. Then, based on what issue you’re trying to treat, an active serum is applied—for instance, salicylic acid for acne or vitamin C for pigmentation.

The original microneedling device, a dermal roller that would be rolled over the skin, has mostly been replaced in doctor’s offices by automated devices that contain single-use, sterile needle cartridges with a varying number of needles—anywhere from a dozen to more than 160, depending on the device.

The spring-loaded devices—sometimes a Dermapen, though a number of variations exist—are employed, using a stamp-like motion across the skin.

Microneedling techniques vary; most devices have an adjustable needle head that customizes the depth of the needle pricks.

Instead of altering the depth based on the area they’re treating, other doctors just use less pressure or fewer passes—anywhere from two to six passes per area.

Post-treatment, a customized serum and cooling mask are applied to help calm down the skin, and some doctors expose patients to red LED lights, to speed healing.

How soon will you see microneedling results?

You should notice a difference in your skin texture a week after your first treatment—most patients first notice a reduction in pore size, according to Dr. Emer—and improvement on acne scars or deeper wrinkles after at least three treatments.

Microneedling Before and after