The Benefits of Microneedling for Acne Scars and Wrinkles
Social media influencers and celebrities are increasingly sharing their beauty tips, tricks, and dermatology procedures. They often share insights on microneedling, but what’s all the buzz about? As a skin scientist that has been involved in extensive research and development of microneedling devices and their uses over the past decade, I thought I would share a general overview. Microneedling is an aesthetic procedure that has been shown in medical literature to treat aesthetic skin textural issues such as acne scars, surgical scars, and wrinkles, but how?
Microneedling — also known as “collagen-induction therapy,” “percutaneous collagen induction,” or the term I coined, “micro-mechanical skin remodeling” — is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses fine, sterilized needles to penetrate the skin hundreds of thousands of times per minute to create tiny, controlled wounds or “microchannels” in the tissue.
The theory behind why we do this is that these microchannels/wounds encourage skin remodeling by triggering the wound-healing cascade. That, in turn, triggers a natural immune response to remove debris, disinfect, increase blood flow, and activate the creation of non-fibrotic (non-scar) tissue.
In layperson’s terms, microneedling provides benefits by signaling the body to remake the treated skin, creating skin more akin to what you are genetically programmed to have normally. Hence, its popularity. Here are some other reasons microneedling is beneficial for certain skin conditions:
Microneedling for Acne Scars
Microneedling stimulates skin remodeling, which can help eliminate acne scars and even out the skin tone. During the initial stages of the remodeling, the skin turns pink because of extra blood flow as a response to the micro-injuries (i.e., injury/inflammation). This, in turn, brings more nutrients to your skin and immune cells or macrophages (i.e., tissue proliferation) that are attracted to the remodeling tissue, helping break down scar tissue (i.e., skin remodeling).
Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure. Many patients compare the sensation to vibrations. It’s also low maintenance, so people don’t have to schedule much downtime following their appointments. Although it is common to have some post-procedure redness and minor swelling, these effects typically last just a few hours to days and can easily be covered by light makeup for most. As the remodeling process also involves epidermal turnover, some will experience light peeling.
Even if a person doesn’t have scars to address, they can still benefit from microneedling’s effects on other skin texture issues.
Microneedling for Wrinkles
Microneedling is also beneficial for textural issues such as fine lines, crow’s feet, and neck wrinkles. Just like for acne scars, skin remodeling can result in the reduction of the appearance of lines. This, too, is supported by several studies published in medical literature, including a recent microneedling study that used noninvasive measurements and biopsy data that showed microneedling resulted in changes in skin architecture and collagen/elastin gene expression. This is another metric by which we can see how the skin is remodeling and providing benefits, such as improvements in the appearance of textural issues.
The Device Matters!
It is important to use a device backed by a legitimate regulatory body (such as the Food and Drug Administration) so that you know it is a quality medical device that will provide a safe and effective treatment. Likewise, it is essential know that the device is made and sold by a company that offers education and training to ensure proper usage and treatment protocols are followed.
As microneedling evens out skin tone, color, and texture, it’s no wonder this procedure has become so popular. Ask your doctor if this procedure is right for you!
Thomas Hitchcock, Ph.D., is the Chief Science Officer for Crown Laboratories, where he oversees clinical development, medical affairs, biological sciences, product development, and research and development for the privately held, fully integrated global company dedicated to developing and providing a diverse portfolio of safe and effective scientific solutions for life-long healthy skin. Dr. Hitchcock is a formally trained scientist with expertise in molecular genetics, microbiology, and dermatology. He has 20+ years of research experience, including basic science, preclinical, and clinical research across several therapeutic areas. He has also been issued patents on his inventions in aesthetic medicine, dermatology, and microbiology. Dr. Hitchcock lectures and presents his research internationally. His work has been published in notable journals such as the “Journal of Biological Chemistry,” “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,” “Clinics in Plastic Surgery and Nature,” “Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology,” “Aesthetics Surgery Journal,” “Nucleic Acid Research,” and “Cell Transplantation.” He is also the co-author of the book “Rebooting the Biome”.