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What is Skin Needling?

By Melanie Smeltzer
Updated May 17, 2024
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Skin needling, sometimes referred to as micro-needling, is the process of puncturing small holes into the topmost layer of skin. By doing so, it is believed that the body's natural wound healing process will be activated, forcing it to create new cells. This process, which is thought to be an effective anti-aging therapy, is typically done with a hand-held roller that bears a number of small, fine-point needles. These skin treatments may be done at home, but many suggest that they should only be performed in a spa or clinic by a trained professional.

The process of skin needling may sound a little frightening but, considering that many well-known anti-aging treatments consist of peeling away layers of skin to bring about the same physiological response, many feel that this is a less invasive option. In general, the process begins by covering the skin with a layer of anesthetic cream, washing it off once it has begun to take effect, then adding a layer of anti-aging cream. The skin is then held taut, and the roller is passed in a back and forth motion six to ten times.

At this point, pinpoint bleeding will generally occur. When it does, the skin is cleansed, and the process is repeated several more times. In a clinical or spa setting, a dermatologist will usually apply petroleum jelly to the skin after treatment has ended. A vitamin A gel or anti-aging cream may also be applied to help with cell turnover.

In addition to its uses as an anti-aging therapy, skin needling is also sometimes used as a treatment for deep skin scarring, such as acne pitting, surgery scars, and stretch marks. As a scar treatment, skin needling is thought to help relax the tissue and fill in indentations. This is thought to be due to the fact that this procedure may break apart old, tough collagen strands, while encouraging new, soft collagen to form.

Despite the fact that skin needling is thought to be minimally invasive and mild, it is not without its potential downside. If health guidelines are not strictly followed, cross-contamination may occur, which may cause skin infections. In some cases, this treatment may also cause redness, tingling, and pain, and, in more severe cases, hyperpigmentation, bruising, or heavy bleeding may occur. These side effects are uncommon, and may be the result of an overly aggressive rolling of the skin.

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Discussion Comments
By anon152414 — On Feb 14, 2011

I use skin needling to treat depressed scars. I have tried many things over the years. I have tried the medical derma rollers but it was not very effective on my scars.

I now use sterilized tattoo needles to 'needle' the scars precisely where it is needed and repeat the procedure every month. The improvement is gradual (5 percent to 15 percent ) but it is permanent. It is also a very cheap treatment: a tattoo needle only costs 25 cents!

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