It seems there’s nothing we won’t do in the pursuit of beauty.
But are we really willing to plunge thousands of tiny needles into our face repeatedly?
It seems the answer is yes when it comes to this skincare craze that’s sweeping the nation.
If the rise in clinics offering needle-based treatments and at-home devices is anything to go by.
And you can be forgiven for thinking that all you need is a dermarolling or micro needling device and a tube of cream, but this treatment is far more complex than you think.
We admit navigating the vast world of needling treatments can be confusing.
So we’ve put together this handy guide so you can know exactly what to expect from your treatment.
1. Book With an Experienced Aesthetician
Your aesthetician must be experienced in administering a microneedling/dermarolling treatment and have in-depth knowledge of the skin.
A lot depends on their technique, as we have seen many clients with sustained iatrogenic injuries and scarring due to the device being dragged over their skin.
A careful needling professional will be thorough and know the number of passes they will use in the area they are treating and the length and frequency of the needle insertion.
2. The Contraindications that can Affect Your Skin’s Ability to Heal
- cold sores
- skin cancer
- open wounds
- blood thinners
- cigarette smokers
- abnormal skin growths
- dark or unstable skin types
- autoimmune conditions such as lupus
- active bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
- a history of keloid or hypertrophic scars
- scleroderma, collagen or vascular diseases
- blood clotting problems and poor wound healing
- radiation treatment or chemotherapy within the last year
- inflammatory conditions like eczema, rosacea or sunburn
- recent treatments like chemical peels, facial waxing or laser
- if you have undertaken a course of Roaccutane within the last six months
If these are conditions you may be experiencing, it would be wise not to have a derma roller treatment.
3. The Importance of Pre Consultation
You will be advised to come to the clinic four weeks before treatment.
The following should be discussed during the consultation; if not, it could be a potential red flag:
- photos will be taken of your skin, and you will be given forms to sign around the treatment
- you will be advised to stay out of the sun for at least four weeks before treatment; sunburn is contra-indicated
- they will discuss your skin and ensure that you are not affected by any of the above contraindications, discuss the type of treatment
- your skin type will be assessed, and see where on the Fitzgerald scale you fit (1). If you have a darker skin type, you could be contra-indicated
- you will be asked to discontinue the use of any Vitamin A creams, acid-based formulas such as vitamin C or peels, and steroids four weeks before treatment as these can thin your skin
- you will be recommended a straightforward skincare routine with a pure form of hyaluronic acid to prep your skin
- you will be advised not to wax or use depilatory creams or electrolysis on your face for at least two weeks before your dermaroller treatment as these can thin your skin
- you will be advised to avoid taking blood-thinning medications such as Advil or Ibuprofen before your procedure. As this could interfere with the natural inflammatory process and may increase the risk of bruising
4. What to expect During Treatment
Depending on your treatment, each procedure may be very different, but your aesthetician will take close-up photos of your skin, so you have before and after records; if you have a poor outcome and your aesthetician denies responsibility, this is your proof.
They will go over your consultation; this will allow you to inform them about any changes in your medical history and medications that you may be on.
First, your skin will be thoroughly cleansed with a sterile gauze and saline solution; good hygienic practices and equipment are paramount to reducing the risk of infection because these devices have the potential for backflow and cross-contamination.
It is important to note that during your treatment, the device should not be used inside the orbital rim, such as eyelids, or inside the vermillion border of your lips.
5. Post-Treatment Healing
Anything applied to your skin after your dermarolling treatment is purely for “sealing” your skin to replenish moisture loss.
This is why we only recommend a pure, high molecular weight hyaluronic acid, and even then, we suggest you wait at least an hour until the channels in your skin have had a chance to seal. This will slow down dermal absorption, which may be responsible for triggering an immune response.
Your aesthetician should recommend that your skincare routine be minimalistic, a topic we discuss in great detail in the article Derma-needling Ingredients Into your skin.
There is a tendency in the industry for some aestheticians to apply ascorbic acid vitamin C immediately after micro needling; however, studies show (2) that this can trigger an immune response which may cause granulomatous scar tissue.
6. The Importance of Aftercare
For best results, follow these dermarolling aftercare instructions:
- do not wash your face for 48 hours
- avoid direct sun exposure for the first week of healing
- avoid any heat treatments, such as sauna or swimming, until your skin has settled down
- avoid taking anti-inflammatory medications for several days, as they may interfere with your body’s healing process
- allow your skin to breathe; avoid makeup for the first 48 hours, and then only use mineral makeup and clean makeup brushes
- don’t be tempted to pick your skin, even if you are experiencing mild flaking or dryness; this is a perfectly natural reaction as your barrier function is impaired. These conditions should subside within a week
7. How Your Skin Should Heal
Day 1-2: After treatment, your skin may look like it has had a severe sunburn reaction and feel flushed and hot in areas; this is the visible inflammation phase that typically lasts around 48 hours. Applying a cooling mask soaked in pure hyaluronic acid will help reduce inflammation.
Day 3-5: There may be slight swelling and bruising that will reduce after the one-week mark.
Day 6-14: Depending on needle depth, you will notice dryness and flaking due to increased cellular turnover for the first week.
Be patient – skin rejuvenation may be seen as early as one week, or it can take as long as eight weeks to heal. If you are on a course and your skin is not settling down, we recommend not having any more treatments at this stage and contacting your aesthetician for advice.
8. Temporary Side Effects
Micro-needling’s general side effects include pinpoint bleeding, bruising, inflammation, scabbing, dryness, flaking and track marks.
Additionally, your skin may look rough, almost like sandpaper, as your treated skin flakes off and is replaced by new tissue.
9 Complications That May Arise
More severe issues include tracks, a change in texture, raised milia-like bump, changes in skin conditions, orange peel texture, extended pores and sagging.
You may notice dark patches on your skin and, in some cases, hypopigmentation – a lightening of your skin.
If you experience post-operative wound infections, you should contact your specialist immediately; they may need to take a biopsy as you may have an infection.
In the article, microneedling beware, it can damage your skin. We discuss potential side effects in more detail.
10. Educate Yourself
A question we are often asked is, does dermarolling work?
In answer to this, the jury is out simply because it is not a straightforward procedure.
We believe this is because many aestheticians lack training and are not stringent about treatment protocol, hygiene and the products used.
Dermarolling before and after care is critical for a positive outcome.
Because of the risks associated with this treatment, we recommend really educating yourself before embarking on a treatment.
After all, it’s your skin, the only one you have, and you need to look after it.