Does Microneedling Help Acne Scars? Effectiveness & Side Effects

October 27, 2020 7 min read 0 Comments

microneedling for acne scars

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.

'Can microneedling really help with acne scars? Does microneedling really help treat acne scars?'


Microneedling is also known as collagen induction therapy. It's based on the 1950's cosmetic treatment called mesotherapy. 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 the inflammation and 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. 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 definetely help remove them. 

What Does Microneedling Help With?

  1. Acne Scars
  2. Melasma
  3. Dark Spots
  4. Hyperpigmentation
  5. Loose skin
  6. Burn Scars
  7. Stretch Marks
  8. Fine Lines


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 reducingacne 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 thescientific 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 patients will need to be consistent and results may take longer to show up. 

Dermatologists have a variety of devices and medications at their disposal to help improve acne scars —from lasers to chemical peels to microdermabrasion. However 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 is susceptible to pigmentation changes as a post-inflammatory response.


A2018 study found that microneedling is a safe and effective way to rejuvenate skin and treat scars and wrinkles. 

You may be wondering, how can someone benefit from microneedling when it comes to treating their acne scars?

  • Immediate skin-plumping effect seen
  • Lasting results
  • Almost no risk of skin trauma when done properly
  • Rapid recovery 
  • Suitable for all skin tones and types

Microneedling is suitable for 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.

According to researchers, microneedling for acne scars is 500 times better than using regular skincare products. 


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.

Microneedling Side Effects For Acne Scars

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 relatively minimal.

The most common side effects from microneedling are are redness,  and temporary inflammation.  You may even experience bruising or light bleeding from deeper more aggressive treatments done in office.

Avoiding excess sun exposure and drinking lots of water before and after your treatment can lessen the chance of experiencing side effects. Most people, however, will have minimal or no side effects and can return to their usual schedule and routine within 24-hours of treatment.

Microneedling may worsen active breakouts, so people with active acne or any active rashes or sores should not be treated with microneedling until the lesions have cleared. Those with a history of oral herpes may be prescribed an oral antiviral medication for one week following treatment because the procedure may stimulate a new cold sore. 

For derma rolling, the side effects are similar to microneedling at the clinic, they are milder and clear out is a shorter time. 

Other side effects of microneedling include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Itching

1)Bleeding- Bleeding is common after microneedling, especially if long needles were applied for the treatment. In most circumstances, bleeding is not an issue because it is caused by needles reaching blood vessels in our skin which should only occur in a professional setting.  If you experience bleeding after 24 hours , please see a doctor. 

2)Infection-In order to eliminate this complication, sterilize your skin and microneedle tool thoroughly before use. Do not use it over rashes or active breakouts, and do not share your tool with anyone and replace it regularly. Always go to a well trusted professional if you want to get deeper procedures done.

Reactions are one thing butthere are a handful of other risks associated with microneedling. Bacterial infection (often characterised by persistent redness, pain or swelling) can occur if the skin or the machine is not cleansed properly, says Dr Mayou. Don't be afraid to ask your aesthetician how they sterilize their equipment and be sure to arrive for your appointment makeup-free. If you suspect an infection, visit your GP or a qualified consultant dermatologist as soon as possible, as you might require prescribed antibiotics.

3)Itching - A little bit of pain is possible after microneedling, but most people do not feel any pain at all.  Itching can be common because your skin is healing the microchannels created on your skin and the healing process can feel like an itchy sensation. The itching feeling should go away after a day.

Allergic reactions to products used during the treatment could also hinder the process. "While you could have an allergic reaction to the numbing cream, you would know before the treatment as it’s generally a quick reaction," explains Dr Mayou, "though itchiness implies an allergy rather than infection." 


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.



Microneedling may cost anywhere from$200 to $700 per session. Although the number of sessions can vary, most people needthree to six sessions for optimal results. With this in mind, you may spend anywhere from $600 to $4,200 overall.

Compared to the cost of an in-office treatment, an at home-microneedling treatment would cost $15 to $150, depending on the brand and quality of the tool. It’s important to note that these are averages only.

The precise cost of microneedling can depend on:

  • length of treatment
  • your provider
  • where you live
  • how many follow-up treatments you need
  • how well your skin responds to treatment

Time is also likely to affect the choice you make on cost. As stated earlier, you may need several weeks to see results. The changes take time to be noticeable; however, the trade-off is less than $100 spent for reduced acne scars. When you factor in the cost of supportive skincare products, you will spend around $200 in a year for the at-home experience.


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.


Most patients see a noticeable reduction in acne scars after a few treatments. Deep scars will appear smoother and skin has a more even tone and texture in as few as three treatments. The new skin that’s created will be firmer, brighter, and smoother! Even those without acne scars will see an improvement in their skin’s appearance.

Microneedling results may vary from person to person. While some see immediate results after doing a single microneedling procedure, others may take several weeks longer before seeing desired results.

microneedling results

In general, you can expect to start seeing some significant and long lasting results on acne scars after 3 months of microneedling.



1"What Is Microneedling? The Science Behind It" by Emma Fan from Banish;

2 "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;

3 "Microneedling" from Yale Medicine;

“Microneedling: Where do we stand now? A systematic review of the literature”;

5 "Microneedling Promises Better Skin But You Can't Ignore The Risks" by Josephine Platt from Refinery 29;

6 “Studies Support Microneedling Efficacy For Acne Scarring” by Lisette Hilton;

7 "Microneedling Improves Appearance Of Acne Scars" from BU School of Medicine;

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Knowing what type of scars you have will help you figure out your acne scar treatment plan. After all, you cannot treat your scars if you don't know which types of scars you have. Scars are caused by acne or injury to the skin. Depressed scars are the most common type of scar that results from inflammatory acne.