If you've had to battle against acne, the you're likely to have experienced acne scars. Acne scars can develop as an aftermath of acne. More commonly from deeper cystic acne or from picking at your skin, but it's possible milder acne can cause acne scars too. The scars from acne can last for several months or several years depending on the scar type.
If you’re someone who has struggled with deep acne scars, you may have tried several types of products or treatments yet the acne scars are still there. If you’ve looked into professional treatments by dermatologists or licensed aestheticians, you’ve most likely come across microneedling. You’ve seen microneedling before and after pictures, but you might still be wondering if microneedling really helps acne scars?
Here we'll go through what microneedling does and how effective it is on reducing acne scars.
HOW CAN MICRONEEDLING HELP ACNE SCARS?
Microneedling is also known as collagen induction therapy. Microneedling is a non-invasive procedure where several sterile micro needles are pressed into the skin. Topical skincare applied directly after is also absorbed more effectively.
BUSM researchers have found that this process, called microneedling, helps with rejuvenation of skin and decreases scarring that often plagues those with acne.
Microneedling tools are comprised of small needles (most common lengths between 0.5mm–1mm) that gently puncture the skin and create small micro wounds. These wounds are not visible to the eye, but your skin recognizes that it needs to heal itself so it produces more collagen and elastin fibers to rebuild the wounded area. This increase in collagen production helps smooth out scars as well as fine lines and wrinkles.
Microneedling therapy or percutaneous collagen induction is a new addition to the treatment for acne scars and has been reported to be simple and effective in atrophic ( indented ) acne scar treatment. So if you have atrophic or indented acne scars, then microneedling can definitely help remove them.
What Does Microneedling Help With?
- Acne Scars
- Dark Spots
- Loose skin
- Burn Scars
- Stretch Marks
- Fine Lines
HOW EFFECTIVE IS MICRONEEDLING?
Finding the right treatment for acne scars is a challenge. Some may not work as effectively as we want, or come with unwanted side effects. Cosmetic surgeries can be too expensive for most people. Therefore, a cost-effective way of treating acne scars that works is the solution most people are looking for.
When done by a professional dermatologist, "microneedling can be effective at boosting the penetration of topical skincare and plumping skin, and there is data to show its efficacy in reducing fine lines and wrinkles," Dr. Gohara says. "And a study found microneedling may be helpful as lasers and other resurfacing devices for reducing acne scars."
There are numerous studies that show the effectiveness of microneedling as treatment for acne scars. For instance, a 2015 study highlights that microneedling for acne scars is effective, relatively risk-free, and with short recovery time for patients. They did a microneedling session once every 2 weeks for 3 months.
Researchers also reviewed all the scientific studies done on microneedling for acne scars from 2009 to 2018.
The results of the study concluded that microneedling is a simple, inexpensive way of managing post-acne scars. The study also concluded that people will need to be consistent for results to show up.
Dermatologists have a variety of devices and medications at their disposal to help improve acne scars —from lasers to chemical peels. However some of those treatments may not be suitable for those with darker skin as it runs a higher risk of leaving scars.
Because microneedling is not as invasive, people who have melasma (dark patches of skin) and hyperpigmentation (dark spots on the skin) can undergo microneedling without the risk of worsening pigmentation problems. Darker skin more likely to have pigmentation changes as a post-inflammatory response.
BENEFITS OF MICRONEEDLING
A 2018 study found that microneedling is a safe and effective way to rejuvenate skin and reduce scars and fine lines.
Here are some benefits of microneedling on skin:
- Immediate skin-plumping effect seen
- Lasting results
- Almost no risk of skin trauma when done properly
- Little downtime
- Works most skin tones and types
Microneedling is suitable for almost all skin tones and types, only that it is not to be done on active acne, infections or rashes, keloid scars or when you’re taking acne medications such as Accutane.
If you have hypertrophic scars (also known as keloids), which are raised scars caused by an overproduction of collagen during the healing process, micro-needling is not recommended.
Microneedling At Home for Acne Scars
Home microneedling tools are made with needles that measure between 0.2 and 0.5mm
Home microneedling can be great as a supplemental to an in office acne scar procedure, and over time the rebuilding of damaged collagen can fill in acne scars and help reduce the appearance of them. When using the right tool and following all instructions, microneedling is a great and effective way to reduce acne scars!
Microneedling Side Effects
While microneedling is relatively safe, it can also have some risks or side effects. Compared to other acne scar-reduction treatments, microneedling’s side effects are minimal.
The most common side effects from microneedling are redness, and a temporary inflammation. These side effects typically go away within a couple hours or by the next morning.
You can eliminate other potential side effects by making sure to sanitize the Banisher in rubbing alcohol and thoroughly cleanse your skin and hands before each use. It's also important to not share your microneedle tool with anyone.
When Not to Microneedle:
Microneedling may worsen active breakouts, so people with active acne or any active rashes or sores shouldn't be microneedling until those are completely cleared. It's important not to go over a rash or acne with a microneedle tool since that can spread the infection to other areas of skin.
We also recommend whenever you introduce a new product in your routine to patch test in a small area first and wait 24 hours. I know it's easy to get super excited about trying a new product, but it's possible to be allergic to nearly anything so it's good to test to make sure there's no allergic reactions like intense itching and swelling.
Microneedling tools come in various categories based on the size of the microneedle. For home use, avoid using a tool over 0.5mm in length, anything longer is best handled by a professional to prevent skin trauma or side effects.
If you're looking for one to try, the Banisher 2.0 is made with gold plated titanium bristles and isn't longer than 0.5mm.
COST OF MICRONEEDLING
Microneedling in office may cost anywhere from $200 to $700 per session. Although the number of sessions can vary, most people need three to six sessions for optimal results. With this in mind, you may spend anywhere from $600 to $4,200 overall.
Home or DIY microneedling would cost $15 to $150, depending on the quality of the tool. All microneedling tools should be replaced after a few uses depending on their instructions because the fine needles will become blunt after several uses. It’s important to note that these are averages only.
The precise cost of microneedling can depend on:
- length of treatment
- where you live
- how many follow-up treatments you need
- how well your skin responds to treatment and the aftercare
Dermarollers Compared To Microneedling For Acne Scars
At-home dermarollers have increased in popularity over the past few years. Bloggers, beauty journalists, and Amazon reviewers have sung the praises of how a roller brightened, firmed, and improved their skin.
However, these at-home devices and their results differ greatly from professional microneedling treatments and roller devices have more side effects compared to microneedling tools that don't roll into the skin.
Dermarollers have a chance to leave tram track scar effects because most people either roll too hard or not with the right technique. The way the needles go into the skin go in at an angle as you roll, so it leaves larger cone shaped holes.
Microneedling Before and After Photos - When Can I See Results?
Most people see a noticeable reduction in acne scars after a few sessions. Deep scars will appear smoother and skin has a more even tone and texture in as few as three uses. Skin can appear brighter, smoother, and firmer! Even if someone doesn't have acne scars, microneedling can still be beneficial in maintaining firmness in skin. After the age of 25, we start to lose the ability to produce collagen, so microneedling is a great way to help maintain the collagen in skin.
Microneedling results may vary from person to person. While some see immediate results after doing a single session with microneedling, others may take several weeks longer before seeing their desired results. Consistency matters!
In general, you can expect to start seeing some significant and long lasting results on acne scars after 3 months of microneedling, with most people noticing decent results within the first 6 weeks.
"Microneedling Therapy For Atrophic Acne Scars: An Objective Evaluation" by Moetaz El Domyati, Manal Barakat, Sherif Awad, Walid Medhat, Hasan El-Fakahany and Hanna Farag from NCBI; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26203319/
"Microneedling" from Yale Medicine; https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/microneedling
“Microneedling: Where do we stand now? A systematic review of the literature”; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1748681517302504
“Studies Support Microneedling Efficacy For Acne Scarring” by Lisette Hilton; https://www.dermatologytimes.com/view/studies-support-microneedling-efficacy-acne-scarring
"Microneedling Improves Appearance Of Acne Scars" from BU School of Medicine; https://www.bumc.bu.edu/busm/2019/08/09/microneedling-improves-appearance-of-acne-scars/