Needling Laser Damage and Acne Scarring

Hi, I'm a 29 year old male from the Netherlands....

Hi, I'm a 29 year old male from the Netherlands. I’m writing this review almost 1,5 years after a botched Smartxide CO2 laser treatment to improve acne scarring.

The post laser story:

Like so many fellow sufferers, my laser damage wouldn't even be acknowledged by the practitioner because they are looking at the difference in depth of individual scars that were already present before the treatment. They downplay the sudden change in color, texture and new micro-scarring in previously healthy skin, knowing full well that these unwanted side-effects are known to occur in some patients. I was well informed about side-effects and signed a multi-page statement not to seek legal action afterwards. I simply assumed that I wouldn’t be one of the few individuals who would experience these negative side-effects. Boy was I wrong! For months on end I suffered from inflammation, dehydration, milia and additional break-outs while figuring out what kind of topicals my skin would tolerate in order to alleviate these side-effects. For me, emu-oil application during the night would help with the dryness. A gentle cleanser like Cetaphil Restoraderm, followed by a application of a non-comedogenic moisturizer like Cerave (which I actually didn’t use in the beginning) can help with the milia and new acne. I actually used a vitamin C, E and Jojoba-oil cream, called Alhydran, which is known to help with burns but also happens to hydrate the skin without making it look messy. At about 3 months post-laser, I did weekly half-hour long skin-massages using Argan oil to prevent new scars from forming. I’m not saying you should do exactly the same, but it helped with my particular situation.

The needling story so far:

At roughly 2 months post laser, I tried a 0,5mm derma roller at home to see if needling would be a viable option to further treat my scars. I can personally testify that my skin would turn even more red than it already was and would peel like crazy a few days afterwards. That was my first experience with skin needling, the second was a 2 to 3mm Dermapen treatment in April 2014, which caused additional milia and redness that would continue on for more than 2 weeks, which wasn’t at all pleasurable! Although these treatments didn’t cause any long term adverse affects, in hindsight I should have waited for at least 6 months before doing any serious needling because it took that long for the redness to subside from the laser treatment. It sounds really stupid, but I did’t took any clear before/after pictures during that time. Having not picked up on needling because of the negative experiences and minimal perceivable results, I put all my hope in an expensive procedure called Recell. At that time I still had a job, but in the beginning of 2015 they had to let me go because of financial setbacks of the company, rendering my plan for Recell unfeasible. It was at that time that needling came back into the picture and I just heard that a new product called “Derminator" was available at Owndoc. It is some kind of Dermapen, but without causing the so-called micro-tearing which is typical of the Derma Roller and Dermapen. On paper it sounded all great so I ordered the machine and tested at 0,25mm depth, following a freshly prepared vitamin C application. There weren’t any negative adverse effects and I even noticed a nice glow in the days afterwards. Although my general impression was positive, it would take another 5 months until the very first real treatment described in this review.

1st treatment:

The aim for this series of treatment is to find out if derma needling is a viable option against post-laser adverse effects, as well as a way of treating existing acne scarring. I performed the first Derminator treatment at home on the 12th of june 2015, according to a slightly adapted protocol that I used from Owndoc. Note: this isn’t based on any medical advise, so don’t blame me if it doesn’t work for your particular situation if you choose to try it.

1) Prepping the skin using freshly prepared vitamin C solution following a special retinol ointment application every night for at least 5 days beforehand.
2) Steambath just before needling to soften the skin. (I actually skipped this step the first time)
3) Applying optional numbing agent. (I can stand the pain though)
4) Performing the treatment, taking all neccesary hygienic precautions like cleaning the face with alcohol.
5) Rinsing off any residual blood and air-dry the face, not using a towel or tissue.
6) Applying special retinol ointment using sterile latex gloves, applying this daily until the redness decreases substantially.
7) After the first day, also massaging the skin using vitamin C + copper peptide serum and continuing this for another 3 to 5 days.
8) Resume normal moisturizer after the redness has subsided.

Afterwards I made sure to clean the unit and the needle cartridge according to the instructions from the manual. My face was very red and I had a lot of pinpoint bleeding. The needle depth was 1,5mm and the treatment itself took roughly 5 minutes. After three days, the redness was almost completely gone, making it possible to perform the treatment over a long weekend. I’m planning to repeat this every 3 weeks, following a skin update on RS shortly after. I might introduce the suction cup method for the tethered scars next time, but I doubt they will improve any ice-pick scarring though.

2nd treatment

Today I performed my second treatment, after waiting for more than three weeks after the previous one. I decided to change the routine, by applying copper peptide serum right after needling. I'm still not comfortable spraying Vit C sollution directly after needling, because it will probably sting like hell and might even irritate the skin. Meanwhile, the temperature is 35 degrees Celsius outside and I regret not being able to enjoy the sun today. I did this treatment during the day and shot the pictures with another lens. I decided to show you the actual pinpoint bleeding that the Derminator is causing.

Quick update: Third treatment and lost photo's :(

Sorry, it took so long. I've been on holidays since the last treatment and I accidently deleted the photo's because I was fiddeling with the cards to take with me. So sorry guys, no photo's this time.
I can say that I went deeper this time and had lots of bleeding on my cheeks. I went 2,5mm deep in the center of my cheeks and enjoyed some nice micro-swelling afterwards. Unfortunately I also had more peeling of the skin, even after 5 days! I've also made a milestone: I've allowed for careful sun exposure throughout my vacation and actually got some pigment back after laser, so that's great! During the night, I was back on Emu oil for damage control after sun exposure and it worked as hoped.
Now for the billion dollar question: Did it actually reduce the scars? - unfortunately, not really. But that's to be expected after just three treatments. Maybe there's some change, but I can only compare when I'll start the next treatment (+ photo's of course)

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