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Is Micro-Needling Too Good to Be True?

By January 26, 2010

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There's a new kid on the minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure block, and its claims and methods are simultaneously simple, scary, exciting,tempting, and hard-to-believe. It's known as micro-needling, derma-rolling,or the very-technical-sounding "collagen induction therapy" (CIT), and it recently got some major press on popular TV shows such as Rachel Ray and The Doctors.

What Is Micro-Needling?

The treatment uses a small handheld rolling device called a derma roller which iscovered withmany tiny closely-spacedneedles. As the device rolls along the skin, the needles create tiny holes supposedly without damaging the epidermis. However, it comes with a warning that it is possible to draw blood and that use of a topical anesthetic may be recommended (depending on the length of the needles and amount of pressure applied). The results of one study also caution that quality equipment must be used, as poor-quality devices can leave pieces of broken needles behind in the skin. (Yikes)

How Does It Work?

The idea behind CIT is similar to that of many other non-surgical skin-tightening procedures in that it aims to create a controlled injury underneath the skin's surface, thereby inducing the body to respond by producing more collagen in the treated area. The skin plumps and thickens in response to the stimulus, reducing the appearance of scars, stretch marks, and fine lines.

Wouldn't That Be Painful?

It can be painful if too much pressure is used, although some patients describe the treatment as being only "mildly uncomfortable". The devices are available with different needle lengths, which can also affect the patient's comfort level. In addition, many doctors administer a topical anesthetic before each treatment.

Why Would Anyone Want to Do This?

Among micro-needling's claims are improvement in everything from stretch marks and scars (acne, trauma,and even burn scars) to wrinkles and hair loss.It is also said to be useful in dramatically increasing absorption of topically applied skin preparations. There is one otherclaim which I findespecially difficultto believe:reduction of cellulite. Okay, so if the skin is thickened, I guess I can see how it might very slightly lessen the appearance of cellulite. However, once you understand what cellulite really is, you will understand why this treatment is unlikely to have any significant effects.

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 showingmicro-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.

Where Can I Get It?

Micro-needling is available as a series of treatments in some dermatologists' or plastic surgeons' offices, but there are also units available for home use. My advice? If you're considering a home unit,try to finda doctor first who offers the treatments in his or her office. Your doctor can show you the proper way to safely do the home treatments (if in fact it's recommended at all). He or she can also help to make sure you don't have any skin conditions which would make this a bad idea for you.

Been There, Done That?

Have you had micro-needling treatments? Are you a doctor who performs these treatments? (Or maybe a doctor who's just not buying it?) Please leave a comment and share your experience and opinions, and tell us about the results you've achieved.

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discussion in the plastic surgery forum.

March 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm
(1) suzie kabloozie says:

I’ve been using a .50 length roller for about a month now, about once or twice a week. I do not notice any reduction of fine lines around my eyes or on my forehead or a reduction in acne or my pore size. What I do notice is that my skin seems smoother, overall. After rolling, my skin appears sunburned for a few hours. The next day it flakes and I’m able to use a dry washcloth to remove the dead skin. I rotate between applying Retin A and Vitamin C (20%) right after rolling. I also use the Skin Actives marine bio ferment and the ELS serum with very good results. Since you cannot buy the regular, name brand product (MTS) here in the U.S., you end up having to buy an off brand. Sometimes the needles tug, making me wonder if I’m doing more harm than good. I guess time will tell, since I understand it takes up to 3 months to actually see if collagen is being produced!

March 9, 2010 at 10:29 am
(2) plasticsurgery says:

I just started this derma-rolling / micro-needling myself with some rollers I found on ebay. I got a 1.0mm roller for my face, neck, and chest to try and help with sun-damage (brown spots, yuck!) and a 1.5 mm roller for the stretch marks on my hips. I took before pictures so I will have something objective to compare. I’ve been derma-rolling for about 2 weeks, and I must admit, my schedule hasn’t been terribly regular. I am following the rolling with the application of a skin-brightener called Lumixyl and a stretch-mark treatment oil on the hips. It’s definitely too early to tell anything yet, except that the whole process feels very much like torture. But if it helps reduce the damge left my the sun and having babies, it will all be worth it! When it’s been three months, I plan to post my findings and my before and after photos with an update to my original post. Stay tuned!

March 13, 2010 at 3:59 am
(3) bettex says:

I have done dry needling on my vertical lip lines, they were deep and are now 50 to 60% filled, some smaller lines are nearly gone. I had two treatments, one more would about make them disapear. I also did it on some deeper facial lines. They are barely visible. It really does work, I am very happy with the results so far. Its been 6 months since the first one. I will have a micro needling done with a CIT roller next week. I am looking forward to it to help sun damage and skin texture.

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