Having worked as a medical esthetician for many years.
I’m overwhelmed by the number of people reaching out to me.
Who is experiencing devastating side effects from Morpehues8 treatment?
More than any other treatment I have seen in my 30 years of working in the skincare industry.
Entirely why no one is taking this treatment seriously is beyond me.
I mean, the word needling says it all, surely?
Thats right. You use a mechanised device with spinning needles to punch tiny holes into your skin. Hello!
It can be distressing for the many women and men who have side effects from this treatment.
And a very lonely place when trying to understand what’s gone wrong and how to repair your skin, as these 10 case studies demonstrate.
So I’ll stay on my soapbox until regulations have been implemented around the correct use of this treatment, as this study points out (1).
And for all you advocates out there, I know these controlled punctures force your skin into repair mode.
So that your skin supposedly starts rebuilding your collagen and elastin to heal these deliberate micro-injuries.
Uh-huh, more on that here.
Your Protective Barrier Function
But to be clear, let’s go through the steps, shall we:
- first, you break down your protective barrier function
- with the use of a device that uses tiny needles to create little holes in your skin
- next, you will upset the delicate microflora that makes up your acid mantle, which keeps your skin healthy
- and then force acid-based products or those with microbes into your skin at maximum barrier penetration
- and all in the comfort of your own home, with no hygiene methods in place
Seriously, if that’s not self-sabotaging at its best, what is?
Sorry if I sound a little condescending here. It’s not my intention.
But believe me when I say not everyone is the ideal candidate for microneedling, and if you are not convinced, check out the 400 or so comments on the article microneedling; beware.
With this in mind, let’s dive right in and look at the best advice I can offer for pre and post-Morpheus8 clients.
In this article, you will see me referring to different terms such as Morpheus8 with PRP, derma rolling, micro-needling and any other guise the treatment falls under, but it still relates to anyone having Morpheus8 treatments.
Adverse Effects to Consider with Morpheus8
This paper (1) talks about the stratum corneum 9your outer layer of skin, and how it serves many purposes, including a physical defence against microorganisms.
Microchannels formed during micro-needling or morpheus8 have the potential to facilitate access to microorganisms and increase susceptibility to infection.
It investigates over 30 different studies which document the following potential side effects:
Allergic/irritant contact dermatitis
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Fungus with lesion culture growing Microsporum canis.
Phototoxic reactions most often appear similar to acute sunburn.
Photoallergic reactions most often present with eczematous-like changes.
Allergic/irritant chronic inflammatory responses and pinpoint erythema.
Papules and extended blood vessels on the forehead and cheeks.
Contact urticaria comprises a group of inflammatory reactions ranging from itching, burning, and tingling to systemic anaphylaxis.
Tram tracking or multiple papular scars in a linear pattern in horizontal and vertical directions may be due to excessive force.
Lymphadenopathy is the swelling of lymph nodes, which can be secondary to bacterial, viral, or fungal infections.
Infection and microbial penetration, including Candida albicans, Pseudomonas aeruginous, and Staphylococcus epidermidis infection
Herpes simplex infection after using vitamin C and vitamin A cream immediately after treatment.
Micro-needling users need to be aware of the following potential conditions that can occur as a result of this treatment:
10 Morpheus8 Esthetician Tips
Tip #1. Book With an Experienced esthetician
Your esthetician MUST have experience administering a Morpheus8 treatment and in-depth knowledge of the skin.
Because the difference between a good and poor outcome depends greatly on their technique and expertise.
I 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, the length and frequency of the needle insertion.
Poor sanitisation of the skin, lack of consultation, and incorrect products recommended are usually down to a lack of experience.
Tip #2. Make Sure you get a Thorough Consultation
Straight off the bat, ensure you get a THOROUGH consultation; if not, run for the hills, and we’re not kidding.
That’s right. Your Morpheus8 treatment can go wrong before you leave the starting blocks.
Why? Because there is so much to know when it comes to preparing your skin.
At least 4 to 6 weeks before your treatment, the clinic should give you a thorough consultation looking at your medical history, whether your skin type allows for this treatment and so forth.
The following should be discussed during the consultation phase; if not, it could be a potential red flag:
- photos should 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
- thoroughly discuss the type of treatment with you so you have a good understanding
- Your skin type should be assessed to see where you fit on the Fitzgerald scale. You could be contra-indicated if you have darker skin; this article is a good read.
- it would be best if you were asked to discontinue the use of any Vitamin A creams, acid-based formulas like vitamin C or peels and steroids 4 to 6 weeks before your treatment, as these will all irritate and thin your skin
- it would be best if you were advised to use a straightforward skincare routine with a pure form of hyaluronic acid at least four weeks before treatment
- 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
- If you are on blood thinners, this could contraindicate your treatment; they interfere with the natural inflammatory process and increase the risk of bruising.
- before your procedure, you should avoid taking blood-thinning medications such as Advil or Ibuprofen
- they should discuss your skin and type to ensure that you are not affected by any of the following contraindications
Tip #3. The Contraindications That Prevent Your Skin From Healing
- 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 on Roaccutane within the last six months
If these are conditions you may be experiencing, it would be wise not to have a derma roller or micro-needling treatment.
Tip #4. What Should I Expect During My Treatment?
Depending on your treatment, each procedure can be very different.
But your esthetician will take close-up photos of your skin, so you have before and after records. If you have a poor outcome and your esthetician denies responsibility, this is your proof.
They will go back over your initial consultation; this gives them a chance to see if there are any changes in your medical history and medications you may be on and to ensure you follow the ‘pre-treatment’ protocol correctly.
First, your skin will be thoroughly cleansed with 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 go anywhere near the orbital rim, near your eyelids, or inside the vermillion border of your lips.
Tip #5. What Should I Use on My Skin Post-Treatment?
Anything applied to your skin after your Morpheus 8 treatment is purely for “sealing” your skin to replenish moisture loss.
This is why we only recommend using 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 esthetician 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 estheticians to apply ascorbic acid vitamin C immediately after micro needling; however, studies (3) have found that this can trigger an immune response which may cause granulomatous infections, which are extremely serious and can do irreparable damage.
Tip #6. How Should I Care for My Skin?
For best results, follow these microneedling/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. This should subside within a week
Tip #7 What will the Healing Process Look Like?
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.
Tip #8. What are the Temporary Side Effects?
Micro-needling’s 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.
Tip #9. Are There Complications I Should Be Aware of?
More severe issues include track marks, 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.
Tip #10. Please Educate Yourself
Many estheticians who administer this procedure are unaware of the highly damaging side effects.
With many of them treating it like an in-office procedure.
Because of this, they are not stringent about consultation, treatment protocol, hygiene and the products used pre, during and post-treatment.
Yet as we have discussed, ‘before and after care’ is critical for a positive outcome.
Because of the risks associated with this treatment, I recommend educating yourself first; make sure you use an experienced esthetician or dermatologist who is aware of potential side effects.
After all, it’s your skin, the only one you have, and you must look after it.
A Note on Vitamin C
Frustratingly, Vitamin C and vitamin A are often recommended.
Even this study Fernandes (2005) states soaking the skin with a tea tree cleanser. I completely disagree with irritating, as it can inflame the tissues. He also encourages patients to use topical vitamin A and vitamin C cream or oil to enhance healing.
In the next breath, it states Note that vitamin A is known to aggravate flush and cause dry, flaky skin!
To Conclude. The naked truth
There is a lot to unpack here
For the past few years as a licensed esthetician, I have been trying to make sense of the many clients that come to us or reach out to us by email daily regarding the adverse side effects of this treatment.
Mainly because there have been few documented studies regarding this.
For me, it is always important to look at skin science. Fortunately, studies are now coming to light to back up my view.
More research and experience are required to clarify the most appropriate and safe way to utilise this technology.
If you are concerned about your skin, please get in touch with us here.
- Unusual Presentation of Tinea Corporis Associated With the Use of a Microneedling Device
Dermatotoxicology of microneedles (MNs) in man
- Facial Allergic Granulomatous Reaction and Systemic Hypersensitivity Associated With Microneedle Therapy for Skin Rejuvenation