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 is†covered with†many tiny closely-spaced†needles. 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 other†claim which I find†especially difficult†to 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 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.
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 find†a 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.