If you have been living with acne, you might be familiar with the fact that it can be quite challenging to get rid of stubborn and unsightly scars that acne leaves behind. Microneedling is considered one of the safest and most effective treatments for acne scarring. This treatment is typically done in-office by a licensed professional, but you can also do it at home yourself using a device called derma roller.
There are a plethora of other cosmetic treatments in the market claiming to yield optimal results in helping to reduce acne scarring, and some of them produce good results. In this post, we will discuss the effectiveness of microneedling and derma roller for acne treatment.
Does Derma Roller help with acne scars? Yes. Derma Roller is one of the safest and easiest to use devices for microneedling. It is effective for acne scarring if using the correct needle length and performing the procedure correctly. The optimal needle length for facial scars is 1.0-1.5mm. A 0.5mm roller is less effective but provides good results in the long run.
If you’re new to the world of microneedling, here’s a brief guide to help you understand what makes microneedling the right choice for you. So, let’s get to it!
What Causes Acne Scarring?
Before we get to the nitty-gritty details of how microneedling can be useful in getting rid of acne scarring, let’s first recognize the factors that lead to the formation of acne scars in the first place. As we know that when your pores get clogged with excess sebum, dirt, grime, and bacteria, it gives rise to acne breakouts and pimples. In case of severe acne, the inflammatory response can cause changes to the texture and structure of epidermal and dermal layers of the skin, resulting in the development of acne scars.
Over-washing, over-drying, and over-exfoliating the skin can further damage the cells and intensify acne scars’ appearance. Picking, poking, and squeezing your acne can also make your skin’s condition even worse, leading to more breakouts and deeper scars.
Types of Acne Scars
The two main categories of acne scars are Hypertrophic and Atrophic. Hypertrophic scars appear due to raised tissue caused by collagen’s overproduction to heal acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Atrophic scars occur when there is a loss of tissue. Atrophic acne scars are the most common and are usually classified into three sub-categories:
- Boxscars- Oval or round indentations in the skin with defined angled sides and flat bottom, resembling chickenpox scars.
- Icepick- Small and narrow but prominent holes in the skin, similar to deep pores.
- Rolling scars- Wide scars that lack defined borders. They give an uneven and bumpy appearance to the skin.
You can have one or more than one type of acne scars, depending on the extent of damage caused to the skin.
How to Treat Acne Scarring?
There is a myriad of over-the-counter and other topical acne treatments available in the market. However, these treatments may not be potent enough to treat and reduce deep and persistent acne scars. Clinical procedures are known to show visible and faster results as compared to these topical remedies. Therefore, it’s important to discuss the various treatment options with your dermatologist to find the best fit for your particular problem.
The main factors that decide the treatment plan for acne scars include the type of scars and the limitations of an acne treatment modality in terms of improving the condition. A range of cosmetic procedures are done to minimize the appearance of acne scars. Some of the most common treatment modalities are chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, subcision, fillers, punch techniques (grafting and excision), and microneedling. In this article, we’ll focus on microneedling treatment for acne scars.
What is Microneedling and How it Works?
Microneedling, also touted as dermarolling or collagen induction therapy, is a therapeutic intervention typically performed in-office by a certified aesthetician or dermatologist. However, there are certain microneedling devices safe for use at home as well. The treatment basically uses a hand-held apparatus containing a grid of countless tiny needles inserted into the surface of the tool.
The procedure involves using these super-fine needles to induce microscopic punctures or injuries in the skin. This triggers the body’s natural healing mechanism by boosting cell repair and regeneration, which elevates the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, targeted at the treated areas to repair these injuries.
Improved levels of these proteins result in treating acne scars along with many other skin issues, such as wrinkles, enlarged pores, age spots, freckles, and fine lines. Moreover, microneedling improves microcirculation, supplying more oxygen and nutrients to the skin. The procedure encourages a smoother, firmer, brighter, and softer complexion.
How Effective is Microneedling for Acne Scars?
The effectiveness of microneedling for treating acne scars has been investigated in many clinical studies.
In this study, the authors found an improvement in acne scarring’s appearance after 3 microneedling treatments.
This study showed that the appearance of rolling scars was greatly improved after two sessions.
For more examples demonstrating the effectiveness of microneedling for acne scars treatment, the reader is advised to read the following review article.
Conclusion: Based on current research, microneedling is one of the safest and effective methods for treating acne scarring.
What Are Different Needles Used For?
You can choose from a range of 0.2 to 2.0 mm needle lengths for your microneedling treatment. The type of needles used depends on the severity of your skin woes, including acne scars’ type and depth.
- 0.2-0.3 mm needles are ideal for facilitating deeper absorption of your skincare products applied afterward. It doesn’t have any effect on the synthesis of collagen and elastin.
- 0.5 mm is used for superficial skin damage, such as shallow wrinkles, discoloration, sun damage, and scars.
- 1.0 mm needle length is useful in boosting collagen production and, therefore, is suitable for reducing more prominent wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, shallow acne scars, and stretch marks.
- A needle length of 1.5 to 2 is usually used for stubborn acne scars, surgical scars, cellulite, hair loss, and signs of aging. For longer needles, your aesthetician or dermatologist may need to numb the area to be treated with a local anesthetic product to prevent discomfort and pain.
Can You Do Microneedling at Home?
Yes, microneedling can be done at home using a device called derma roller. A Derma roller is a mechanical device that looks like a small paintbrush. The roller’s head is covered with hundreds of microneedles that can range in length from 0.2 to 2.0mm.
Derma rollers are easy to use: you simply roll a few times over a skin area in several different directions. However, to do this safely, you need to educate yourself on the proper way of doing this. You can read our in-depth guide to microneedling here.
Is Microneedling Safe?
It is safe when done correctly. It is certainly safe when performed in-office by a licensed professional. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be allowed.
But what about at-home microneedling? It depends on the microneedle length, your knowledge, and your experience. Microneedles of 0.2-0.3mm are very safe for home use, even for people with no prior experience. You still need to learn quite a bit and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you want to use longer needles at home, you need to ask yourself if you want to spend time educating yourself on how to do this properly. To get experience, you will need to experiment on yourself, and you need to understand that you will be taking risks with your skin.
There are many success stories from those who used long needles without any problem. Unfortunately, there are also stories when DIY microneedling went wrong. And it can go seriously wrong with long needles. Our recommendation is to leave longer needles in the hands of professionals.
What Makes Microneedling so Special?
If you’re wondering how microneedling is better than other invasive treatments intended to provide similar results, we’ve got you covered. For starters, there is barely any skin problem that can’t be improved with the help of microneedling. It offers fast, superior, and long-lasting outcomes with minimal discomfort compared to other in-clinic invasive procedures.
The process is essentially painless and minimally invasive, which means that it doesn’t require downtime, and you may only experience slight redness after the procedure. It doesn’t involve the use of chemicals, making it a safer treatment option for people with all types of skin.
Are There Any Side Effects of Microneedling?
As mentioned before, microneedling is a safe and effective procedure because it relies on the skin’s natural healing process to treat acne scars and other issues, unlike most other mainstream cosmetic treatments. However, it should be avoided if you’re experiencing active acne and inflammation. Microneedling may prove to be counterproductive and cause more harm to your skin than good if it’s inflamed and damaged. So, wait for your acne and inflammation to subside completely before you induce micro-wounds to the skin to stimulate higher concentrations of collagen and elastin in the skin.
Microneedling Combined with Other Procedures
Thanks to continuous research and technological advancements, microneedling can now be combined with various other innovative techniques to create a state-of-the-art procedure, taking the effects of traditional microneedling to the next level. Some of the common techniques used in association with microneedling include Platelet-Rich-Plasma, radiofrequency, and TCA peel. Your dermatologist can evaluate the extent of your skin damage and suggest the best possible combination of therapy for you.
How Much Does Microneedling Cost?
An in-office microneedling procedure usually costs between $100 and 700 per sitting, depending on your location and provider. On average, a session costs around $300, and you may need 3 to 4 sessions to see visible results. The number of sessions may increase up to 6 or 7 if you have deeper acne scars.
An at-home dermarolling device, such as a derma roller, costs less as $20, but it may not render the same results as an in-office procedure performed by a certified professional. Since microneedling is considered an aesthetic procedure, your medical insurance won’t cover it. You can collaborate with your provider to structure a payment plan that might reduce the cost of your treatment.
What to Expect After a Microneedling Procedure?
Though microneedling isn’t painful and invasive like most other aggressive treatments and plastic surgery available in the market, you may still need a little recovery time. It’s normal to experience minor redness, swelling, and pulsing for a couple of hours, which feels like a sunburn that settles down in no time. This is basically your skin’s natural response to small pricks caused by the needles. Also, microneedling makes your skin sensitive, leaving it more susceptible to oxidative damage. Therefore, apply and reapply sunscreen and avoid sun exposure for a few days.
How Often Should Microneedling Be Done?
The frequency of your microneedling sessions mainly depends on the length of needles:
- 0.2-0.3mm needles can be used 3-4 times per week. This needle length is ideal for enhancing the absorption of skincare products.
- 0.5mm needles can be used once per week. This needle length is a good choice for superficial scarring.
- 1.0-2.0mm needles: once in 3-4 weeks. These needles are used for deep acne scars.
As discussed above, a needle length of 1 or 2 mm is mostly used to treat deeper acne scars. Your skincare specialist will decide the regularity of the sessions after evaluating your skin’s healing process. It is recommended to go for one session per month for 4 to 6 months, according to the treatment outcomes.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve tried every OTC topical treatment and skincare product to minimize the appearance of deep-rooted acne scars and pockmarks, but nothing seems to work, fret not. Microneedling might be the answer to all your worries. The procedure seems to have taken the skincare and beauty world by storm for quite some time now.
Microneedling works by accelerating collagen synthesis in the skin, promoting blood circulation, and speeding up cell turnover, thus reducing all sorts of acne scars. What makes this treatment even more suitable is that it’s minimally invasive, has no to minimal downtime, and is painless. You can choose from a range of needle sizes according to the intensity of your skin problem.
We hope this article will serve as a comprehensive guide to microneedling and help you make a better choice to achieve clear and healthy skin.