Would You "Needle" Your Face for Beauty? Hong Kong Warns Against Derma Roller

Princess 19 on 19 Aug 2011 at 3:57pm

Would you voluntarily poke your face with needles just to get younger-looking skin?  Apparently, many women are willing to - so much so that in Hong Kong the government is issuing strict warnings against it.

Microneedle therapy - also known as the brand name Derma Roller - has been gaining a following amongst the celeb set.  Angelina Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt are rumored to be fans.  The process consists of rolling a needle-laden device over the skin with or without a skin cream or anesthetic.  Sounds painful.

"The tiny wounds created in this way stimulate new collagen synthesis leading to the desired improvements," says RealSelf contributor, New York-based dermatologist, Dr. Nelson Novick.

Apparently, the treatment has a laundry list of conditions it can cure, such as hair loss, wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks, and hyperpigmentation.  Chinese women have taken to using it for the face to fix anti-aging issues.  As reported by the Daily Mail, the Hong Kong city council has issued stern warnings after many complaints - such as skin that is worse off than before the treatment.

"It is unwise to risk your life for a prettier appearance," says Hong Kong's community relations officer Philip Leung Kwong-hon.

derma roller before and after

The council's warnings also stem from the fear of unsterile equipment being used - as salons are rarely measured for sterility procedures.  This inadequacy could lead to a bevy of problems - including the contraction of diseases like hepatitis.

Some RealSelf readers have tried this "less than comfortable" treatment.  With a Worth It Rating of just 50%, the thoughts are mixed.

"Immediately post procedure, it plumped up my skin and so yes, my acne scarring looked 'diminished,'" says reader MissSydney.

"I have used the derma roller 5 times a week for the past 7 weeks and have seen no improvement what so ever..All the reviews i have read say its worked within days ..well it hasnt for me at all what a waste," says reader kenz.

With no scientific research to back-up the usefullness of this device, RealSelf doctors agree, try things that are proven effective.

"Dermaroller is intended for finer lines, scarring and perhaps as an anti-aging mechanism," says Virginia-based dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Oppenheim.  "Why use something with questionable benefit to address your concern when there is the perfect solution in Botox or Dysport?"

Whatever you may think, the Derma Roller (and copycat products) is getting a lot of attention due to the unconventional method of treatment.  It has been featured on shows such as Rachel Ray and The Doctors.  One thing, however, can be assessed from all the hype.  It is painful.  Maybe one prick from a Botox needle really is the way to go.

See The Doctors' entertaining discussion about this trend below.

Would you ever try a product like Derma Roller? 

Photo credit:  derma-roller.com

Comments (28)

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I am on the fence still...I am thinking of trying it. Currently the Dermaroller Community gives it a 77% worth it rating based on 43 reviews. 
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I read about what was happening in Hong Kong. Apparently they were doing the procedure in beauty salons without properly sterilizing the rollers. Very unhygenic, and you can even catch HIV that way. That was the whole issue, not the effectiveness of the needles. They definitely are effective, but one shouldn't over-roll.
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I have read an article about Hong Kong, where they are doing this procedure in beauty salons, without properly sterilizing the rollers afterwards. Very unhygenic, and you can catch HIV that way. That was the issue, not the effectivness of the rollers.
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Ouch. That sounds too painful. I won't dare do that to my face. Good thing that facials in hong kong, spa hk like Flawless HK doesn't practice that.
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I have been using a derma roller on and off since I was 21. I love my derma roller. Girls are told that things like stretch marks are things we have to either live with or pay $4,000+ to get work on it that may or may not work. If it does work it usually needs to be repeated or does not last long. How do doctors or cosmetic surgeons react to a $20-40 item replacing their iffy costly treatments -that actually work-? Suddenly its dangerous and deadly!!!! It can be dangerous if youre a complete idiot. But so can anything be. You keep it clean and dont do it too much. Not that hard people. you know whats dangerous and scary? Botoc and all these other chemicals they inject inside your skin that can easily cause a reaction down the line. Also is it worth gambling each time you need a fix when the next time they just might say, youre skin is too damage I refuse to touch you because all the irreversible damage there is. Oh, my derma rolling once a week on and off on my stretch marks on my thighs and they are 80% gone after 6 months. I do my face rarely and I am twenty-four now and people ask if I am 16, 12 and 19. So obviously works for me! Dont let dangerous money hungry people bully you out of you being happy and healthy in your skin. You do not have to have these expensive surgeries to get rid of imperfections!
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Botox* I know there are plenty of other injections they do that are simply not good but I wont bother lol.
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Where did you buy yours at? I want to get one, however I am a germ freak and I worry I would get one that has been sold and re-used. I don't want to catch anything, haha! I want to know they have been sterilized!
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I think it's a waist of money. I didn't see any difference.
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I would save your money. I didn't see any changes.
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I just freak out because I want to be positive they are clean when they get delivered to me! No chance of being re-used and sold again
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No way to tell I guess. But I always soak mine In alcohol in between uses (when I used it)
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I have been using dermaroller in my face and it doesn't work for me. I mean it might work over a very long period of time. It is painful, and it disables me for several days 2-4 before the redness goes away. On the other hand I have observed some small signs of what seems to be a small infection that looks like small itchy papules showing 3-4 days after treatment. I have decided to discontinue the use of this device as definitely even if I observe a very strict sterilization procedure (including UV), antibacterial creams, etc, it seems to still cause some sort of minor infection or side effect that I definitely don't want to see. Doesn't make sense for me.
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You should try doing it rarely. In my above comment I got rid of almost all my stretch marks by doing it ever so rarely in months. I dont get a reaction on my thighs which I press hard on but I do my face once every blue moon and each time I will break out because that area is most sensitive. ; )
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And super light!! Dont press at all really. Just enough to feel it on there and make a pink face.
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I have been using the home genuine dermarollers with some good results, I use it for anti ageing, Are you saying that I shouldn't use this, I bought it from face for the future in the uk
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I think as long as youre cleansing your roller running it under hot water and using alcohol you are fine if youre seeing positive results!
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Derma roller can treat a few conditions but certainly not everything. In fact, that's precisely the reason why so many people, including author of this post, appears dissatisfied with 'needle your face' trick.
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I love my derma roller and I feel the results are better than any treatment I have had in the past(peels,lasers,thermage)My facial skin looks red for a few hours afterwards, but for the first time in my adult life I can go without makeup.It smooths and firms.I am also using it around my navel to firm the skin which just recently began to look a little loose.I am using it on my inner thighs and seeing amazing things .This is the only area where I get little petechiae from the needles.This goes away in a a couple of days.
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What derma roller do you use? I have been looking All over the Internet And I find a lot of them that are cheap and crappy. Any suggestions would help thanks!
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I've seen that knockoff roller among others & have seen the damage it has done. This is a great anti-aging/scar treatment in the hands of a trained medical provider, not a lay person or people acting like doctors & providing it's the Original Dermaroller from Germany the true inventor is Horst Libel. His Dermaroller is onetime use only, because they are not able to sterilize the roller, not only that it is consider to be real medical procedure, because it does go into the dermis. I've had the treatment done, due to my acne scars with GREAT success, my doctor did it in her office and there was no down time. I was thinking about laser and acid peels until I found out about the pigmentation problems and other issues associated w/that type of scar removal, not only that the Original Dermaroller is safe & works on any type of skin color.
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I agree with the above comments. Cosmetic medical treatments need some respect. There are no risks if Performed by a Doctor or Dermatologist trained in this procedure. At home dermaroller kits have smaller needles and don't penetrate enough to cause any new collagen formation or scar reduction. I have used the genuine dermaroller on people with acne scars and I have seen a significant improvement.
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Good to know! 

This reminds me of those dead-skin eating fish... they are hugely popular overseas, but have started to be banned in some US cities (like Seattle) because it's too hard to regulate how sterile the salons keep them. They may work great, but are only worth it under the right conditions. Sounds like Hong Kong feels the same way about microneedling.

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Per above comments, this clarification is needed.  The article refers to the microneedle therapy being performed in salons, day spas and beauty spas in China – specifically in Hong Kong.  THOSE procedures are the ones that are not strictly regulated.  I would assume - and one would hope -  that if this procedure is done at a Chinese doctor's office, it is done with new sterile equipment and a trained physician.
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Here is the US you can buy these rollers from all over the internet. I have not seen this any other countries. I spoke to my dermatologist about these sales online derma rollers and he told me that any needle or micro-needle that reaches the dermis, that layer I spoke to on my last post, is then considered a medical procedure and only medical professionals can perform this procedure. He also said that he had the same issue, bacterial infection, with a patient that bought a derma roller from the UK. Since the company was not in the US the patient could not have any legal action to cover the costs that she incurred while trying to stop the infection from this micro-needling device. All I know is that the dermaroller that my doctor used did the job and I am satisfied with my results!
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I hear your point. It took me three months to uncover information about this odd procedure. After areating your lawn you are left with bits and pieces of the lawn on top. When I had the procedure performed by my dermatologist there was no bits and pieces of my skin left on top of my skin. So this is not the exact same as lawn areation. The micro-needling holes that the needles create need to only reach a certain level of the skin called your dermis. These holes fill in within five minutes and after, I was left with no burns, risk of infection, or anything about what was said in this china article. I give Dermaroller from germany thumbs up due to the fact that they only sell these derma rollers to doctors after they have trained these dermatologists, plastics, and family doctors. This was important to me that it wasn't from a garage from a seller over the internet.
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