Does Microneedling Improve Acne Scars?
In a realm of skin resurfacing treatments that include subcision, dermabrasion, lasers, and steroid injections, you might think microneedling sounds like ordering from the children’s menu. While the name says micro, this collagen induction therapy offers some big results with fewer of the issues that can accompany other treatments. Here are the answers to the top questions about microneedling for acne scars.
What is micro-needling?
Known as microneedling therapy, collagen induction therapy, or dermaroller therapy, this prickly procedure uses fine needles to introduce micro-injury to the epidermis, which prompts the skin to send collagen to the site to repair the skin.
The process is used to reduce scars and fine lines, minimize stretch marks, disperse pigmentation, and as a transdermal delivery system for therapeutic skincare ingredients.
The effects are enhanced when used with collagen-boosting agents like vitamin C, vitamin A, or peptides.
How does microneedling improve acne scars?
First, let’s the difference between hyperpigmentation and true acne scars.
True acne scars are changes in tissue that occur when the skin tries to heal from damage.
Atrophic acne scars are indented scars that form below the upper layer of skin tissue due to severe acne that prevents the skin from regenerating tissue correctly. These are characterized by depressions, changes in texture and thickness, or small pockets in shapes known as ice-pick, rolling, and boxcar scars.
The dark marks left behind after blemishes heal are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Though often referred to as acne scars, they are not true scars and not the ones we’re talking about here.
It’s also important to note that keloid (raised) scars are not great candidates for improvement with microneedling. That’s mainly because keloid scars result from an overabundance of collagen, so inducing more collagen production on those sites would only increase their density
Because microneedling stimulates the skin’s production of collagen, it’s an excellent option for atrophic (indented) acne scars. Over time, the increased collagen will fill in these indentations, giving the skin a smoother texture.
A 2009 study assessing the effectiveness of micro-needling in treating facial scars revealed 88% of patients saw a good to excellent reduction in acne scarring following treatment.
Never use microneedling devices on active acne. That will spread bacteria and can lead to infection.
How does microneedling compare to other resurfacing procedures?
Several resurfacing treatments can help improve acne scarring. Some involve heat that can be problematic for hyperpigmentation-prone skin. Others require more recovery time. Microneedling offers a relatively simple option with some favorable results.
- Microneedling is safe in all skin types and tones.
- Carries the lowest risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation compared to laser resurfacing, chemical peels, or dermabrasion.
- Does not leave a telltale line of demarcation between treated and untreated skin.
- Recovery period of 2 to 3 days is shorter than other resurfacing treatments.
What’s the difference between home microneedling and professional microneedling?
The main difference is the length of the needles. At home, you use a hand-held device with a cylindrical roller equipped with medical-grade solid steel microneedles no longer than .5mm, so the punctures are very tiny. A skin care professional will use a medical microneedling device with needles that are 0.5mm to 2mm long.
The longer needles mean a more intense treatment and a longer healing time, but they can also bring more dramatic results.
When done by an aesthetician or dermatologist, the treatment is performed at four to eight-week intervals.
If you plan to do home microneedling, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
More collagen-boosting tips for improving acne scars
Whether you opt for microneedling or not, you can improve skin texture with topical treatments. These products can also be used during microneedling treatment to enhance results.
Topical treatments for activating and strengthening collagen:
- Vitamin A Propionate: This highly effective non-prescription retinoid stimulates collagen production and accelerates cellular turnover to reduce the thick outer layer of dead skin cells while building and firming skin structure.
- Peptides: These messenger molecules tell the skin to produce more collagen and elastin, the essential elements of a plump, smooth texture.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential co-factor in the production of collagen. It’s also a potent antioxidant, so it helps build collagen and prevents it from being broken down.
- Acids: Acids promote collagen production by accelerating cell renewal and improve texture by removing the top layers of dead skin.
Acne scars are among the tougher skin issues to correct. Combining a consistent at-home regimen with professional treatments will bring the best results.
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