Does Microneedling Hurt? An Honest Answer

By Emily M.| Last updated on June 24, 2022
does microneedling hurt
⏱️ 4 min read

Microneedling is a super-effective treatment for a wide range of skin conditions. We’re not exaggerating – it works. When done right, the treatment takes advantage of the body’s natural mechanisms to reinforce the collagen web in the skin, improving its appearance from within.

Everyone will agree microneedling is great up to this point, but when clients learn that it’s done by poking their skin with tiny needles over and over again, a portion gets discouraged. It’s natural to wonder does microneedling hurt, since it doesn’t sound like the most enjoyable experience.

PMUHub is here to give you an honest answer.

Does Microneedling Hurt?

Numbing is used to minimize pain, but it can hurt a bit depending on the area treated and the depth of needle penetration. That said, it’s not unbearable and it’s over very quickly.

To explain which cases hurt more and which hurt less, we have to dig into the technique a bit and go through different variations of the treatment.

Derma Pen Microneedling

Professional microneedling is usually done with a derma pen, a pen-shaped handpiece that features a cluster of thin needles (usually 12) that move in and out of the skin when pressed against it.

The needles are extremely fine and they penetrate the skin at a straight angle, which creates controlled micro-injuries that trigger the skin’s recovery process and boost the production of collagen and elastin at deeper layers.

Depending on the thickness of the skin in a certain area, the length of the needles is adjusted so they go just deep enough to trigger the desired response without causing permanent damage.

Learn more about the derma pen treatment.

derma pen microneedling treatmentImage source: Freepik

Derma Roller Microneedling

Derma rollers are used less and less by professionals, but their sale as at-home microneedling tools is on the rise. This tool is made up of a drum covered with tiny pins that rolls freely against the skin, and a handle.

The pins vary in length. Rollers suitable for home use are between 0.2 and 0.5 mm in pin length. This ensures the pins don’t go so deep into the skin to cause damage, but if the user presses them too hard this can still happen. Used safely, rollers with short pins don’t really go deep enough to trigger the production of collagen, they just sort of improve the state of the epidermis.

Rollers that professionals use have longer pins than that.

But regardless of the length of the pins, the way they penetrate the skin is inferior to the penetration of the needles of the derma pen. This is because the rolling motion makes the pins enter the skin at a slant level and leave it the same way, which creates much larger punctures than needles of the derma pen.

Learn more about using the derma roller.

derma roller microneedlingImage source: Freepik

Which Hurts More, the Derma Pen or the Derma Roller?

In general, the derma roller hurts more than the derma pen, even if its pins are shorter than the needles of a derma pen. This is due to the way the pins enter and leave the skin, plus they’re thicker.

The derma roller doesn’t offer the option of adjusting the pin length, and the same length going over thinner areas of the skin can be quite uncomfortable, as they essentially go deeper than they’re supposed to and affect the nerve endings more.

Which Areas Hurt the Most?

Bony areas where the skin is thin and there’s very little fat or muscle to cushion the pressure hurt more. For example, treating the forehead can be more uncomfortable than treating the cheeks. The same goes for the hairline and the jawline.

The scalp, which is treated against hair loss, can be quite uncomfortable, especially on the temples and the crown.

A Bit More About Numbing

Topical anesthetics are used to numb up the area before the skin is microneedled. A numbing cream is applied generously on the area and left on for 30-40 minutes. Some formulas need to sit for up to an hour.

Technicians have different tricks for maximizing the effects of numbing, and one of them is covering the cream with plastic wrap, which generates mild heat and increases absorption.

This eliminates most of the pain, but you will still feel something.

numbing cream for microneedlingImage source: Instagram @cleanskinlondon

What Does Microneedling Feel Like?

Clients report that the discomfort they feel during a microneedling procedure can be compared to:

  • Tingling
  • Stinging
  • Scratching
  • Heat
  • Holding an electric toothbrush against your skin

This is all very subjective, though. Your experience may be different, but it’s good to know what people who’ve tried the treatment say.


Some discomfort is inevitable, but if you feel any extreme pain during the treatment, tell the practitioner. They may need to readjust the configurations of the derma pen.

Is There Any Bleeding?

There can be, especially on the more bony or sensitive areas. Pinpoint bleeding isn’t a cause for concern in itself, it just means that the needles are reaching the dermis. Extreme bleeding, however, isn’t normal and it may be a sign of the practitioner doing something wrong.

bleeding during microneedling treatmentImage source: Instagram @justinehong.rn

Does Microneedling Hurt Afterwards?

Your skin will probably be a bit tender for the rest of the day. You will likely experience tightness and dryness, kind of like a sunburn. Some itching may also occur.

All these are normal – after all, your skin just went through some trauma. Controlled trauma, but trauma nonetheless. These sensations can be mitigated with a light moisturizer.

Other potential side effects include redness, some swelling, some bruising, and potentially some peeling. This should all subside within a few days.

Need Any More Information on Microneedling?

If there’s any other aspect of the microneedling treatment you want to learn more about, check out our Comprehensive Guide Through Microneedling. You’ll probably find the answer there!

Cover image source: Freepik



Exclusive insights into the PMU industry right in your inbox.

FREE newsletter. 100% good stuff.