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I suspect 99% of you reading this have heard of the dermaroller. I suspect many of you have tried it. I also suspect many of you have not looked into actual research on it and have learned most of what you know about dermarollers from youtube videos and miscellaneous websites. Not good.

Having access to a good number of research databases, I decided to look into microneedling. Here's some of what I discovered:

  • A good deal of preperation is typically required in succesful research studies that utilize dermarolling. This normally involves the topical application of vitamin A (often other substances like Vitamin C as well) for weeks prior to the procedure. Here's some quotes from studies--
    • "The skin is routinely prepared by using topical vitamins A and C and antioxidants for at least 3 weeks, but preferably for 3 months if the skin is very much damaged by the Sun. It can be used also as a topical product containing alpha-omega HA, omega-hydroxy acids, enoxolone, and zinc. If the stratum corneum is thickened and rough, a series of mild TCA peels (2.5-5% TCA) will get the surface of the skin prepared for needling and maximize the result"
    • "Patient's skin was primed using topical tretinoin cream 0.05% at night along with sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 during the day for 2 weeks prior to starting the treatment."
  • ​Legitimate studies utilize a dermaroller--not a dermastamp, not a dermapen.
    • ​I challenge anyone to find me a legitimate scientific study that produces measureable, successful results with a dermastamp or dermapen. I don't think you can. I haven't been able to. All the studies I've read rely specifically on the use of a dermaroller.
  • Dermarollers take time
    • Best quote I've found on this: "To obtain best results, it is best to maintain skin needling treatments for a period of 1-2 years."
  • Needle specs are important​​​​
    • There are differences in the data here, but I've seen 1.5mm the most.
    • "...patient was called for the first sitting of microneedling with dermaroller containing 192 needles of needle size 1.5 mm"
    • "To treat acne scars, it is recommended that the professional device be used that is equipped with a rolling barrel 10-mm wide and 96 needles in four rows. The needles used should have a length of 1.5 mm and a diameter of .25 mm"
  • There is a rather specific way to needle the skin
    • Almost all studies I've read roll until bleeding is seen
    • "Treatment was performed by rolling the dermaroller in vertical, horizontal and diagonal directions in the affected area until appearance of uniform fine pinpoint bleeding. Then the area was wiped with saline soaked gauze and tretinoin cream 0.05% was applied and washed off after 30 minutes"
    • "Rolling consists in moving, with some pressure, four times in four directions: horizontally, vertically, and diagonally right and left...Naturally, the skin bleeds for a short time, but that soon stops."
  • There should be a significant wait time between needling sessions (multiple-weeks)
    • Studies I've read typically indicate a 4 week minimum downtime in between sessions
  • Success is maximized when combined with other non-invasive treatment methods
    • From what I've read (see studies I cite at the bottom), there is greater success when peels are added in between needling sessions. TCA 15% was one of them, 70% glycolic was another.
  • This modality is typically more effective for boxcar and rolling scars rather than icepick
    • Though combination with TCA peel alternating every 2 weeks appears promising (see study I cite at the bottom)

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I hope this has helped clarify some of the confusion surrounding microneedling. Though this is good starting info, I would suggest anyone who is interested in the process read some actual research before they begin frantically pricking their skin. Here's some papers I quoted to help get started:

  • Combination of Chemical Peels and Needling for Acne Scars by Fabrocinni, Gabriella and De Podova, Maria Pia; Atlas of Chemical Peels, 2012, 2nd ed. 2012, ISBN 3642202691, pp. 87 - 91
  • Combination therapy in the management of atrophic acne scars; Garg, Shilpa; Baveja, Sukriti.; Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery7.1 (Jan-Mar 2014): 18-23.

Last but not least, I would suggest getting these procedures done with a professional. I know it's very expensive and out of many people's price range, but incorrect at-home technique could result in potentially even more damage to the skin--

"Skin Needling can be dangerous in the untrained hand. Skin could be macerated by overworking of the procedural area and potentially creating scarring. Always consult a trained professional for these treatments. People trying to do these treatments at home will not experience pleasing results."

Good luck people.

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