Skin needling

Author: Anoma Ranaweera B.V. Sc; PhD (Clinical Biochemistry, University of Liverpool, UK)

What is skin needling and how does it work?

Skin needling is also called micro-needling therapy or collagen induction therapy. It is a minimally-invasive non-surgical and nonablative procedure for facial rejuvenation that involves the use of a micro-needling device to create controlled skin injury.

As each fine needle punctures the skin, it creates a channel or micro-wound. The controlled injury triggers the body to fill these micro-wounds by producing new collagen and elastin in the papillary dermis. In addition, new capillaries are formed. This neovascularisation and neocollagenesis following treatment leads to reduction of scars and skin rejuvenation, i.e., improved skin texture, firmness and hydration.

There are various skin needling devices including Dermaroller® (Dermaroller GmbH); Dermapen™ (Equipmed Pty Ltd; Australia) Derma-Stamps™ (Dermaroller USA) and radial discs incorporating fine microneedles of various diameter and length, fabricated from a wide range of materials such as silicon, glass, metals, and polymers. The needles are up to 3 mm in length.

Professional skin needling is considered to be one of the safest skin treatment procedures. Unlike chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser treatments, skin needling causes minimal damage to the skin.

What is skin needling used for?

Skin needling is effectively used for:

Microneedle technology also offers a minimally invasive and painless route of transdermal drug administration e.g. vaccines. This technology, is currently being investigated by several research groups and companies. To enhance transdermal drug transport, microneedles can be inserted into the skin to increase its permeability, after which the drug is applied (poke with patch). Drugs could also be coated onto the microneedles and then inserted into the skin (coat and poke). Hollow microneedles are used to inject drug solutions into the skin.

Benefits of skin needling

What is the skin needling procedure like?

The procedure is well tolerated. It takes a few minutes up to an hour to complete, depending on the area to be treated and the severity of the problem.

Postprocedure care

Practical tips

How many skin needling procedures does one need?

The number of needling procedures depends on the individual skin condition. Three to four treatments may be needed for moderate acne scars. Scars from Thermal burns and stretch marks (striae) may require up to 5 procedures.

In the case of wrinkles associated with ageing skin, one or two refresher skin needling treatments are recommended every year.

Specially designed home skin needling models with short fine needles (0.2 mm depth) may be used 2-3 times per week to:

Are there any side effects from skin needling?

Generally the treated areas recover rapidly from skin needling. However there are occasional side effects, which include:

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