Trying to get rid of acne can seem like the most frustrating thing ever. It can really affect your self-confidence and mental well-being. So when you hear there’s a treatment that can resolve this issue you’d try it in a heartbeat.
Is microneedling that treatment?
Let’s discuss does microneedling help acne.
How Does Microneedling Help Acne?
The microneedling treatment involves tiny needles puncturing the skin’s surface and creating micro-injuries.
The point of damaging the skin on purpose is to trigger the body’s natural healing process which promotes the growth of new skin cells and helps get rid of imperfections.
Before we get into the explanation of how this can help treat acne, let’s briefly review what causes acne in the first place.
What Causes Acne?
Acne forms as an aftermath of dirt, excessive sebum production, dead skin cells and bacteria clogging up our pores, among other factors.1
Clogged pores manifest as different bumps, blemishes, and lesions – mostly referred to as comedones or blackheads and whiteheads.
Once the pore swells, it breaks the follicle wall and creates acne. And once the inflammation calms down, this skin damage then turns into an acne scar. The depth of acne scars depends on the severity of the skin damage.
If the area where the blemish broke the skin is small, the scar will be shallow and heal quickly. But if there’s damage to the surrounding tissue as well, deeper scars will likely form.
Acne scars are most often caused by inflammatory acne rather than any other kind. This type of acne is red, swollen, and painful to the touch.
Image source: Freepik
Can Microneedling Treat Active Acne?
Unfortunately, microneedling can’t be performed over active acne as it’ll only spread the bacteria onto the other areas as well.
The needle that comes into contact with that bacteria will ignite an even worse flare-up. Plus the skin is already inflamed so irritating it further will be painful.
But RF microneedling can!
A Bit More About RF Microneedling…
Radiofrequency microneedling is a treatment that combines regular microneedling with a radiofrequency facial.
RF microneedling is done with a special device that looks similar to a regular dermapen, just somewhat bulkier. This handpiece, however, also administers thermal energy.
Radiofrequency uses thermal energy waves that delegate the heat into the skin which creates controlled trauma and stimulates the production of collagen and elastin.
High-frequency waves produce enhanced oxygen molecules which have an antibacterial effect.
On its own, RF waves pass through the skin without opening it. But when combined with needling, the needles help transfer this energy much deeper into the skin. And thanks to RF’s antibacterial properties, they don’t cause cross-contamination!
Traditional microneedling pierces the acne and the bacteria get transferred onto the tool. Then, the device is rolled over other parts of the face, transferring the bacteria and causing a further breakout.
But RF heat waves kill the bacteria, allowing the device to securely pass over other areas as well as diminish active acne, making radiofrequency microneedling a safe and effective acne treatment.
Image source: Instagram @lashesandlipstickca
How Does Microneedling Help Acne Prevention?
Microneedling can help release blackheads from pores and shrink them, so it’s very beneficial for acne-prone skin as reducing sebum production leads to fewer blackheads and whiteheads, which prevents them from evolving into acne.2
Radiofrequency, or RF microneedling, is especially effective in reducing the overproduction of sebum. Some statistics state that it can reduce up to 50-80%!3
High frequency gently cleanses the skin of acne-causing bacteria and pollutants which helps prevent the onset of new acne.
Also, high-frequency face treatments can be quite efficient at minimizing enlarged pores. The oxygen molecules clean out pores thoroughly, and without the debris clogging them up, they come back to their original size.
How Does Microneedling Help Acne Scars?
Microneedling deliberately injures the skin to start the body’s own healing process, which will speed up the regeneration process and increase the synthesis of collagen and elastin – chemicals responsible for quicker healing and formation of new skin.
So by promoting these new skin cells to form, microneedling can help treat acne scars and prevent new acne from forming.
They fill in the parts of the scars and make the texture appear more even, minimizing it. And as new skin cells replace the old ones, acne scarring slowly diminishes.
The extent to which microneedling can help with acne scarring is dependent on the severity and the type of scars. This will determine the number of sessions you’ll be needing.
Atrophic or depressed scars are the most common type of scarring. These are indents in the skin, which can be divided into 3 subgroups.
- Boxcar scars, which are wide hollows that have defined edges
- Rolling scars, which often have sloped sides
- Ice pick scars, which are small but quite deep
When the body starts producing so-called growth factors, which are proteins that support the repair of injured skin, the hollows get filled in and so the rough texture is less noticeable.
Shallower scars like boxcar and rolling scars can be successfully treated, while ice pick scars are a bit harder to resolve.4
Image source: Instagram @maisondebeaute_toulouse
Keloid scars are also known as hypertrophic scars which means their tissue is raised from the skin.
These types of scars occur due to the hyper-accelerated healing process and overproduction of collagen. And since microneedling treatment also induces collagen production, the treatment might not be the best idea.
Discoloration or dark patches are a common consequence from an acne breakout. Although it’s not actually scarring, it is a mark leftover from the breakout.
To get rid of hyperpigmentation, you don’t need to go as deep as you do with scars, as discoloration is much closer to the skin’s surface. So yes, microneedling is very effective in treating hyperpigmentation.
Let’s Conclude – Does Microneedling Help Acne?
Yes, but not while they’re active.
Microneedling treatment is a great solution when it comes to the prevention of acne or removing the scars leftover from the breakout. However, this treatment can’t be done over active acne. At least not on its own.
When combined with radiofrequency it can be used over active acne since high-frequency waves provide antibacterial properties.
RF microneedling combines the benefits of a regular microneedling treatment but also administers thermal energy into the dermis which helps kill the acne-causing bacteria, stopping the cross-contamination and helping the breakout calm down.
Cover image source: Freepik
- Lee, Sang Ju, et al. “Use of Fractionated Microneedle Radiofrequency for the Treatment of Inflammatory Acne Vulgaris in 18 Korean Patients.” Dermatologic surgery 38.3 (2012): 400-405;
- Janiczek‐Dolphin, N., et al. “Can sebum reduction predict acne outcome?” British Journal of Dermatology 163.4 (2010): 683-688;
- Kim, Sang Tae, et al. “Treatment of acne vulgaris with fractional radiofrequency microneedling.” The Journal of dermatology 41.7 (2014): 586-591;
- El-Domyati, Moetaz, et al. “Microneedling therapy for atrophic acne scars: an objective evaluation.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology 8.7 (2015): 36.