Skin Needling – Does It Really Work?

Have You Heard of  Skin Microneedling?

So what is skin needling or microneedling ? How does it treat the skin and what is the evidence behind microneedling for skin improvement?

Skin needling is a procedure in which a multitude of fine needle pricks are performed on the skin. The whole aim behind the procedure is to activate the wound healing response and to remodel collagen and produce new collagen in the skin.  For this reason micro needling has been used for a number of purposes -   skin rejuvenation and anti-aging ,  improving acne scars and surgical scars, helping resolve pigmentation problems in the skin and facilitating penetration of topical ingredients into the skin.


Wound Healing Produces New Collagen

So what actually happens to the skin during wound healing?  When the skin is wounded , a cascade of reactions occur at the cellular level of the skin. A  wound goes through three phases of healing - inflammation, proliferation and remodelling.

During the initial inflammation phase platelet cells initiate clotting of the blood and  a series of white blood cells migrate into the wound to clean up the wound and remove any damaged cells. During the proliferation phase , new fine blood vessels grow into the wounded area bringing oxygen and nutrients and removing waste products.

Also during this phase fibroblast cells migrate into the wound. The fibroblast cell's mission is to produce new collagen and contract the wound.  The final remodeling phase of wound healing occurs over several weeks to months and involves a transformation of the original new collagen into a stronger form of collagen laid down in a more uniform pattern. This maturation of the wound causes further contraction of the tissue.

Formation of new collagen, remodelling into stronger collagen and skin tightening - sounds like the recipe for more youthful skin, doesn't it?  So one answer to skin anti-aging lies in 'wounding' of the skin. We need to perform techniques that create a controlled wounding of the skin so that the skin can heal itself. This concept  is used by many cosmetic techniques. Remember the resurfacing laser treatments like the CO2 laser? This procedure performs a controlled wounding of the top layer of the skin with a laser. The results in skin tightening can be significant but the red raw surface of the skin takes weeks to heal and months to recover from redness. In this busy day and age, most people can't tolerate this amount of downtime with a cosmetic procedure.

So how can we obtain this wound healing result without the downtime? That's where skin needling comes to the forefront. Needling, as a form of skin rejuvenation, was discovered well over 20 years ago and the history of  skin needling for skin rejuvenation is very interesting. Essentially, by performing multiple tiny microscopic needle pricks in the skin we are creating a controlled wound to the skin but the skin surface virtually remains intact. So there is no need to take weeks off work. Most people can return to work the following day.  Although redness can persist for 24 to 48 hours after the procedure it is easily camouflaged with make-up.

How Is Skin Needling Performed?

So how is skin needling performed? There are many devices designed to needle the skin, including dermal roller and Dermapen. Over the years, device design has improved.  The dermal roller devices consists of a rotating cylinder with spikes and when manually rolled across the skin it creates small shears in the skin. Newer technologies such as the Dermapen use an electronic device to deliver the micropunctures to the precise level in the skin and at a much higher density of microchannels per square centimetre of skin surface.

The Dermapen technique is explained in this video.

The Dermapen device inserts the needles perpendicular to the skin creating small microscopic puncture wounds whereas the dermal roller devices tend to drag the needles through the skin surface leaving tiny slits in the skin. I prefer the Dermapen technique as needle depth can be electronically controlled and the speed of oscillation of the needle cartridge allows for more microchannels with less surface skin trauma.



The Clinical Proof

So what proof do we have that skin microneedling works? Many studies have been conducted on skin microneedling for anti-aging, skin rejuvenation and acne scarring and the studies back up the skin improvement results with histological proof. Under the microscope, skin that has undergone a series of microneedling sessions shows increased collagen production in the dermis , increased elastic fibre deposition and a thickened epidermis. There is an up regulation of the growth factors in the skin which promote regeneration and scarless wound healing. This histological result translates to an improvement in wrinkle depth, skin tightening and softening of acne scars.  Rolling and box car type acne scars respond better than deep ice pick scars.

Skin Needling - Does It Really Work? Share on X

How Many Skin Needling Treatments are needed?

Most studies have been conducted on skin that has undergone 3 to 6 treatments 2-4 weeks apart. Of course , the number of treatments really depends on the type of skin condition to be treated. Studies have shown that dermal collagen increases with an increasing number of treatments. Due to the nature of the wound healing process described above, results usually take at least 6 to 8 weeks after the first treatment to become clinically apparent.

Due to the slow nature of collagen remodelling , it makes sense that results are not instantaneous. It takes weeks to months to see results after skin needling and the more treatments performed the better the results. Some people with acne scarring require multiple treatments over a shorter time frame, while people wanting to use skin needling as an anti-aging treatment to maintain skin elasticity may elect to have the treatment 2 to 3 times per year. It is important to have a consultation prior to skin microneedling to ascertain whether microneedling is an appropriate form of treatment for you skin and to seek advice on how many treatments are required.


Complimentary Dermapen Skin Needling Consultation with Dr Kylie

At Cosmetique Solutions I offer a complimentary consultation on Dermapen skin needling so you will always see a doctor for advice on this procedure. I also offer cost-effective Dermapen packages tailored to the individual if you require multiple treatments.

Call us at Cosmetique Solutions on 5575 5644 to schedule an appointment or book yourself in with me through our online calendar.


Dr Kylie Regli