There is a reason microneedling is seemingly everywhere: while there is no such thing as a miracle treatment (at least, not yet anyway), microneedling comes pretty close. Microneedling is incredibly simple — so simple that you can do it yourself at home — but has a list of benefits so extensive it rivals far more sophisticated-sounding treatments.
Microneedling treatments can pretty much do it all: address acne, tackle scarring and stretch marks, help even out skin tone, turn back the clock on wrinkles and signs of aging, reduce cellulite, reduce pore size and even help stimulate hair regrowth.
So, here is everything you need to know about microneedling — including a derm-favorite treatment.
In case you haven’t tried it yet (or need a refresher), microneedling is pretty straight forward. Using a device called a dermaroller, which looks a bit like a prickly jade roller, the treatment uses ultra-thin, short needles to create teeny wounds in the surface of the skin. “These ‘micro’ injuries stimulate collagen and elastin production,” explains Darren Smith, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. “For this reason, microneedling is often referred to as ‘collagen induction therapy.’”
Collagen, which naturally decreases as you age, is the building block of youthful skin. As the micro-wounds left by the microneedling rev up your skin’s natural collagen production, you are left with tighter, clearer skin, says Smith.
“Microneedling is a great treatment for fine lines and wrinkles, scarring (including acne scarring), skin pigmentation issues and other conditions affecting skin quality or tone,” Smith says. You will see the results almost immediately and, with regular treatments, keep reaping the youthful skin benefits.
Side effects are typically minimal (think: redness and irritation) if you follow the right precautions, but Smith advises talking to your dermatologist pre-treatment if you have a chronic skin condition like eczema or psoriasis or have a history of skin cancer or keloid scars as microneedling can make these skin conditions worse.
B.Y.O. Microneedling Device
There are two ways to snag the skin benefits of microneedling: with an at-home device, or through an in-office treatment with a dermatologist.
Both can deliver results, but DIY dermarolling won’t be as effective as an in-office treatment from the pros. “One of the main factors in determining the effectiveness of a microneedling treatment is the depth to which the device can penetrate,” Smith explains. “Devices with shorter needles that cannot penetrate as deeply cannot induce as much collagen and elastin formation.” Most microneedling devices’ needles typically range between .5mm and 2mm. Essentially, you might get the short-term boost of a good exfoliation, but no long-term results.
There are also concerns over the safety of at-home microneedling. One of the potential risks of any microneedling treatment is infection (think about it, the whole point is to create tiny open wounds), which goes up with at-home devices since they can be tricky to clean. Before you use one, disinfect with both soap and water and 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.
In other words, if you have a dermaroller but found it to be kind of meh, it might not be time to write off microneedling entirely but rather talk to your dermatologist about what microneedling treatments they offer.
The Latest and Greatest in Microneedling
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One of the best in-office microneedling treatments out there is called Morpheus8, which delivers advanced results to match its sci-fi name. “Morpheus8 is the deepest microneedling treatment available — its needles are 4mm—which in itself makes it extremely powerful,” says Smith.
But that is not the only thing that makes Morpheus8 the latest and greatest in microneedling treatments. “The microneedles also emit finely tuned fractionated radiofrequency energy,” says Smith — the same RF energy that is found in tightening laser treatments like Intragen. “This sends collagen and elastin production into overdrive yielding superb results.”
With the addition of the RF energy, Morpheus8 is actually able to penetrate the skin to a total depth of 5mm (while the needles penetrate to 4mm, with the addition of RF energy it is able to reach this depth). “This makes it the only device of its kind that can actually contour fat as well as improve skin texture and tone,” Smith says.
“Morpheus8 is classified as a ‘subdermal adipose remodeling device,’” says Smith. “This means it can actually smooth fat (adipose) under the dermis — the deepest skin layer. This tightens and reshapes loose or hanging fat into a sleeker, smoother, younger appearance.” In other words, the treatment can address surface issues like wrinkles, as well as deeper signs of aging like jowls. “It has even proven very useful in treating stretch marks and cellulite,” Smith adds.
Microneedling isn’t meant to replace your skincare routine.
This two-for-one benefit is why Smith recommends Morpheus8 over other lifting and tightening treatments like Ultherapy. “I simply haven’t seen a device that can produce results like this without being more invasive and requiring more downtime,” he says. “There is virtually no downtime with Morpheus8 — mild redness may persist for 24 hours but that’s about it. I have found Ultherapy to be much more uncomfortable without offering comparable results.”
Microneedling Meets Skincare
Microneedling isn’t meant to replace your skincare routine. In fact, they work most powerfully together. “A good skincare regimen can supercharge the results achieved with Morpheus8 by further enhancing the skin rejuvenation processes induced by the treatment,” says Smith. (And don’t forget the SPF. “Since these are essentially thousands of micro-injuries, unprotected sun exposure can create a risk for hyperpigmentation,” Smith adds.)
After treatment, keep in mind it is important to use gentle products, though. After all, your skin has just been through microtrauma. Gentle cleansers and moisturizers are the way to go. Try Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip Cleanser and Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream.
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