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Are There Bad Side Effects to Micro-needling?

I want to reduce the appearance of my acne scars. I would like to try Micro-needling.

Doctor Answers 5

Treat Acne Scarring with Microneedling

Microneedling has been around for a long time but is finally starting to gain traction in the US. I like to describe this in terms of roller needles, pen needles and big-box needles. There are pros and cons of each one. And any procedure can have side effects, so please make sure you learn as much as you can and that the provider is skilled — hopefully at a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon’s office.

Rolling needles are the oldest form of needles, and there are many kinds. This procedure was popularized by a plastic surgeon in Cape Town, South Africa: Dr. Des Fernandez, who has taught the procedure and shown its effectiveness for many years. His company, known as Environ, is one of the market leaders with rolling needles. They can be done at home with small needles or in an office with larger needles. The procedure is very technique dependent and, if done correctly, can rejuvenate the skin and treat some mild acne scarring. It can be a fairly bloody office procedure, but it can work with several sessions.

Microneedle pens use a group of motorized needles to deliver into the skin. Names such as DermaPen, MicroPen and others are popping up in offices for the same indications as the rollers. There is still some blood after the treatment, but with a series of treatments the skin can do well. Another pen, although not the same, is called AquaGold, where needles are inserted into the skin with a canister apparatus so products can be applied during the needling — a great concept.

Then there are the big-box needles. These are typically radiofrequency-tipped needles that can penetrate the skin at various depths to have an effect on the deep layers of the skin. Bleeding is minimized as the RF current not only helps with rejuvenation or scars, but also helps coagulate the vessels in the area, so bleeding is not a major concern. RF needles are colorblind, so all skin colors can be successfully treated. Devices such as the EndyMed Intensif and the Lutronic Infini are the leaders in the US with big-box needles, and these treatments are very popular in Asia. Fewer treatment sessions are usually needed.

So what else can go wrong? These things are putting little holes in the skin and sometimes applying product to the skin. The products themselves should be sterile or at least free from allergens that can cause rashes and contact dermatitis — something we are seeing more and more when these are being performed in offices that have no clue as to what they are doing.

And with any procedure, the risk of pigment changes, although not big with needling, still can occur. Scarring has been reported, so once again, make sure that the provider is skilled and knows what they are doing.

Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

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We’ve seen very nice results from microneedling for acne scars.

In my practice, we use the SkinPen™ for microneedling, and the final outcome for acne scars can be very impressive. One of the benefits of microneedling in general is the minimal risk of side effects, particularly if you visit a board certified plastic surgeon who is well-versed in the technique. However, since the procedure does involve creating controlled micro-injuries to promote the skin’s natural healing response, it’s common to notice redness and swelling after a session. Some people may experience a mild acne flare-up, or tiny white bumps under the skin called milia. Any of these concerns should dissipate rapidly.

Gary Motykie, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Microneedling Great For Acne Scars

Microneedling is one of the best ways to minimize acne scars. We have many patients in my office that have had tremendous success with the Dermaroller treatment. As with anything, there may always be risks associated but those risks are drastically minimized if you go to the right place. We have performed hundreds of Dermaroller treatments without any negative side effects. Experience is key and a professional medical clinic will ensure that any negative side effects such as infections will not happen.

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Pigmentation and Melarase with derma roller therapy

There are many types and degrees of severity in microneedling and dermaroller therapy. I advise all patients to apply a topical skin lightener with use in order to avoid hyperpigmentation. Raffy Karamanoukian Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Acne scar treatment

Micro needles in skilled hands have some noted benefit on post acne scars. Its benefit is somewhat limited and may need to be repeated. A greter benefit is obtained with new fractional lasers either CO2 based or Erbium like the Sciton Profractional. Such lasers have ashort recovery of about 3-4 days and benefit greater than obtained with repeated needles. The most effective technology remains the old fashion surgical dermabrasion with wire brush or diamond head. Not to be consfused with microdermabrasion which has minimal if any benefit on scars even if repeated many times. Ask your physician who is familiar with pertinent technologies to guide you through all the marketing hype we see around us.

Julian Henley, MD
Greeley Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.