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 20

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
4.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Vivace Microneedling may be your answer

At my practice, we use both the microneedling pen (Skin Stylus) and the Vivace Laser System that combines microneedling with thermal energy (heat) to bring out even better results for acne scarring.  I have seen phenomenal results.  Side effects are probably slight sunburn feel if any.  Also be careful...not all microneedling pens can be autoclaved.  Our Skin Stylus is autoclavable (the only one out there that can be) so this sterilizes it in between patients to elimination infection and cross-contamination.  With the Vivace you have your own disposable microneedling piece so it is always safe.  I think you will love microneedling for your acne scars.  You can also combine it with your own plasma (platelet-rich plasma) and microneedle your own growth factors from your own blood to even heal the scars faster.  

Samer Muala, MD
Phoenix Family Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

What side effects can occur after microneedling?

Microneedling works by injuring the skin in such a way that it responds by producing new collagen, which in turn plumps the skin and restores volume. It works well for texture, lines, volume loss and acne scarring

At my Vancouver cosmetic surgery practice we use rolling needles by Environ and have seen phenomenal results in staff and patients alike. The best part: microneedling is a fairly low-risk procedure with side effects tending to be few and far between.

The rolling equipment should be sterile and personal (each patient should have his or her own roller, and these should be autoclaved before each session) and the face should be cleaned and prepped before treatment to avoid cross-contamination or spread of bacteria. Patients with active acne should consider alternative options before treatment as dermal rolling can easily spread bacteria over the skin, potentially causing breakouts. Patients prone to cold sores should let their treatment provider know so that a preventive prescription can be given prior to the session.

Thomas Buonassisi, MD
Vancouver Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Microneedling is a low risk procedure

While any procedure can have risks, microneedling is one of the lowest risk procedures in our plastic surgery office.

The risks of pigmentation issues, cold sore outbreaks, and thermal burns that a patient could potentially see with a laser rejuvenation procedure are very very rare with this procedure.  I am seen many results in my practice that rival some fractionated laser treatments at a much lower cost and lower risk.

Pramit Malhotra, MD
Ann Arbor Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Microneedling Safety

When done with proper technique , there are few reasons that Microneedling would elicit unfortunate side effects. Even pinpoint bleeding that can occur with a deeper treatment , usually only leaves redness and mild inflammation for 2-4 days max!    This treatment can offer fantastic outcomes for  texture, fine lines and acne scars!!

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 159 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.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 179 reviews

Micro-needling Side Effects

In order to avoid side-effects, there are certain things that should be done after the treatment. Avoid having direct sunlight. Make sure not to make use of any products that are not specially designed to be used with micro-needling for the first 24 hours after the treatment. These skin products might include sun and tanning lotion, make up, creams and body lotion, facial peels or any skin care products that contain harmful ingredients for the skin which cause irritation to the skin after the treatments. Otherwise there are over 150,000 procedures that were performed around the world, and there are no serious reported side effects so far. However micro punctures or micro wounds normally close up quickly within 1 hour. Therefore infections are very rare.

Hardik Soni, MD
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Very low risk procedure

Microneedling is also known as Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT). Our clinic’s preferred method of treatment is the Eclipse Micropen. The tiny needles used during the procedure create controlled micro-injuries. The skin responds to the injuries by  producing new collagen which essentially fills in scarring. The treatment is very low risk. A quality treatment provider will further reduce risk by checking for possible contraindications prior to treatment and will also prepare you for your post-treatment home care.

Gregory Turowski, MD, PhD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Microneedling for Acne

Microneedling is a wonderful treatment for acne scarring.  I have seen great results from deep microneedling as far as skin tone and skin texture are concerned.  There are few side effects from the treatment when performed by an experienced practitioner.  To maximize the benefits of microneedling, I would recommend combining it with a PRP treatment or platelet rich plasma.  This involves a quick blood draw and then isolating out the growth factors in your own plasma.  These growth factors are then placed back on the skin for additional treatment benefits.  Best of luck!

K. Roxanne Grawe, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 138 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.