Everyone loves the idea of micro-needling and a do-it yourself option.
What’s not to love? It promises miracles — more youthful looking skin, no wrinkles, it purports to stimulate collagen growth and makes scars go away — it sounds almost too good to be true…
In 2005, my Swiss center was chosen as the testing site for micro-needling for skin rejuvenation. I tested it extensively using the Visia ® imaging system. My team and I came to the conclusion that micro-needling was and is the best quasi-invasive skin procedure to improve the appearance of scars and keloids. However, when it comes to true skin rejuvenation, if choosing between micro-needling versus retinoids, micro current, cold lasers, ascorbates and peptides, I choose the latter options.
You may question my opinion, particularly when you’re looking at before and after pictures in micro-needling advertisements. The skin looks plumper. It seems like your skin is plumper.
The truth is, if the skin looks plumper in the days following the micro-needling, it’s probably the result of subclinical inflammation and not because new collagen was built in the dermis. If I biopsied the skin like we often do in Switzerland, it wouldn’t show new collagen, but edema, which is water retention induced by subclinical inflammation. And people say, "It works so well for me.” If only they could see the truth!
Since several micro-needling DIY devices are on the market and our patients regularly ask about micro-needling, I feel I need to give information on how to use the device at home in the safest way possible.
It is of vital importance
to remember that the skin is an immune organ. We strive to keep it is as free from infection as possible so it can protect you. Consequently, before you even think of using a micro-needling device, you need to be checked by a doctor or a licensed skincare professional. They will to check your skin and determine whether you can use it, responsibly and safely.
Logically, your skin should be free of infections and warts. There are clinical cases of people micro-needling and spreading warts all over their faces (warts are caused by viruses and are very contagious). You do not want that, nor should you have wounds or burns that are still healing.
Always read and follow the instructions in the packaging before using your micro-needling device. You don't want to bring infection to your own skin, so be extremely careful with your device. You are constantly surrounded by harmful bacteria, viruses and mold. Keep the spikes covered until you’re actually going to use the device. Don’t simply put your device on the counter.
You should be cautious. There are horror stories from around the world of people using micro-needling devices incorrectly — just look on YouTube. There are even people who have used a micro-needling device on infected acne. No comment.
Your skin must be in a healthy state before you use the micro-needling device because it intentionally causes “controlled damage” to the skin. Following the use of a micro-needling device, the skin will pass through four phases:
- Hemostasis, where there is blood coming from the skin;
- Inflammatory, which is caused by the cytokines and white blood cells starting the repair process. If the skin is left alone, this phase will naturally move to the following stage;
- Proliferative, where the new skin grows; and finally,
Respect for the healing time is key
. If your skin is still in the proliferative phase or in the inflammatory phase and you micro-needle, you will break the cycle. You will bring acute inflammation and it could turn into chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can potentially induce hyper-pigmentation, overstimulate collagen production and create scarring (scars are essentially excess collagen).
With micro-needling, there’s a balance between potential benefits and potential damage. That’s why I truly believe this technique should be left in the hands of professionals.