Skin needling, also referred to as ‘collagen induction therapy’, is a new treatment that is designed to improve skins texture, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and soften the appearance of scars. The concept of using surgical needles for the process of skin rejuvenation can be traced back to the mid-1990s when scientists developed a procedure to treat subcutaneous scars and wrinkles using a hypodermic needle.
Since then the procedure has been expanded and refined. Today, skin needling is a more main-stream beauty treatment. It is used to boost the body’s own natural collagen production, thereby reducing the effects of aging, improving the look of stretch marks, as well as reducing the appearance of scarring caused by acne or chicken pox.
What is Skin needling?
The skin needling process uses a series of fine, sharp needles and traces them over the skin to enter into the dermal layer. The purpose of the treatment is that the needles damage the dermis, and this encourages the body to produce new collagen and elastin, and to generate new skin cells to repair itself. At the same time, cosmetic rollers are used on the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) where they help topical ingredients absorb into the skin.
The primary target for skin needling is the face or stretch marks on the abdomen or thighs, though it can be used on any area of the body.
There are a variety of different roller devices on the market, each of which have different needle lengths. Needle lengths of 0.02mm are designed for at-home cosmetic use, while needles of up to 3mm are designed for more professional use. Many people use a combination of professional and home roller devices, leaving a medical professional to target the main concerns, and carrying out routine maintenance at home.
What should you expect during treatment?
- An initial consultation where you will discuss your concerns, your medical history, and your expectations of treatment
- Your skin will be prepared using Vitamin A and Vitamin C creams (which may be recommended for 4 weeks prior to treatment)
- A medical roller will be used over the treatment area
- Treatment last anywhere from 10 minutes – 1 hour depending on the size of the area needing treatment.
How many treatments before you see results?
Many people report seeing results after one treatment, but 2-5 treatments are recommended for maximum results. These treatments should be spaced 2-3 months apart and should be combined with a good at home treatment plan. Skin needling provides a gradual enhancement of the skin and it can therefore take anywhere from 4-8 weeks after treatment before rejuvenation results can be seen.
How long is recovery? Are there any side effects?
Recovery time will depend upon the aggressiveness of the treatment. Most people can return to work the next day, although for some, recovery may take a few days.
For shorter needle lengths, such as those used at home, skin needling is not considered to be a painful treatment, though you may experience a mild tingling sensation. The longer the needle, the more painful the treatment. Medical grade skin needling treatments may require the use of a topical anaesthetic to ease pain and discomfort.
Following treatment, skin may be red or irritated, and you may experience some bleeding or bruising. Skin may be tight and itchy for 12-48 hours following the session. Side effects of such treatment are minimal and rare, but may include skin dryness, scabbing, hyperpigmentation, or Milia (small white spotting). It could also result in a flare up of cold sores if you have a history with them.
Are there any post-treatment procedures to follow?
Following a skin needling treatment, it is important that you follow the instructions of your physician to reduce the risk of complications. They may suggest that you:
- use tepid water to cleanse for the first 48 hours after treatment
- don’t touch the treated area without first washing your hands
- avoid make-up products for 1 day following treatment
- apply prescribed skin care products
- use of an at home cosmetic roller until your next appointment
- avoid contact with direct sunlight and wear sunscreen when it cannot be avoided.
Who should not have a skin needling treatment?
Skin needling may not be suitable for those who have used isotretinoin for acne healing in the last 3 months, those who have open wounds or infections, those who have undergone radiation treatment, those who have numbing of the skin, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or those who have a history of keloid scarring.
Who can perform skin needling?
When using professional and medical grade rollers, skin needling should only be performed by qualified doctors, surgeons, and nurses. Shorter needles can be used by salons and spas.