Derma Pen Treatment - All You Need to Know
Everything you ever wanted to know about the derma pen treatment – how it’s done, what results can be achieved, the cost, risks, and much more.
The derma pen treatment is the beauty industry’s holy grail. It’s a very versatile treatment that can improve and help treat a very wide range of skin conditions. It uses the skin’s natural mechanisms to give you a flawless complexion and more youthful appearance, or diminish a number of imperfections like scarring of various origins, hyperpigmentation, even thinning hair.
A form of microneedling done with a microneedling pen, it’s one of the go-to anti-aging treatments, as it’s nonsurgical and non-invasive.
Read our comprehensive guide for answers to all your questions about the derma pen treatment.
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What Is the Derma Pen Treatment?
A form of microneedling done with a microneedling pen rather than a dermaroller. It’s a treatment for the skin that can help treat a wide range of skin conditions, minimize or eliminate complexion imperfections, and improve the overall appearance and state of the skin.
It’s quite non-invasive and safe if done by a trained and certified esthetician or dermatologist.
The dermapen treatment is definitely effective, but it may take several sessions to reach its full potential. While some improvement can be visible after only 1 session for most skin conditions, maximum results are achieved over a series of treatments done several weeks apart.
Image source: Instagram @enjoykosmetik
How Is the Dermapen Treatment Done?
The derma pen treatment is a form of microneedling, so it’s done by puncturing the skin over and over again and making tiny channels. The tool used for this type of microneedling is a skin pen, a pen-shaped electric device that ends with a cluster of needles that pierce the skin in stamping motions, at a 90° angle.
By creating controlled trauma to the skin, its natural recovery process is triggered, and elastin and collagen production is stimulated. That’s why this treatment is often called collagen induction therapy. With a series of treatments, the production of collagen can be boosted by up to 400%.
A very important protein, collagen is often called the building block of our skin. With age, the amount of collagen the body produces decreases significantly, so the skin loses firmness. Elastin provides the skin with elasticity, and without it, the skin loses volume. Stimulating the production of these 2 components gives an overall improvement to the skin.
The controlled trauma also slowly but surely works away scars. Scar tissue is loosened and softened with repeated needling until it blends into surrounding, healthy skin.
The needles of the derma pen need to reach the dermis layer of the skin, but some conditions require a greater depth than others.
Image source: Freepik
What Areas of the Skin Can Be Treated?
Dermapen microneedling can be done on many areas of the face, body, and even the scalp.
What Skin Conditions Can Be Treated?
The derma pen can be used to treat a number of skin issues with ultimate precision, like:
- The effects of aging (fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin)
- Dull skin
- Acne scars
- Scarring of various origins on the face and body
- Stretch marks on any body part
- Large pores
- Sun damage (sun spots)
- Thinning hair
Depending on the severity, these conditions can be significantly improved over a series of 1-6 treatments.
What Skin Conditions Can’t Be Treated?
While it is safe and effective for many conditions, the dermapen treatment isn’t suitable for treating:
- Active Rosacea (it can make it worse)
- Perioral dermatitis
- Acne breakouts (only acne scars should be treated)
- Inflamed skin
- Discolored lips (not safe for lips)
- Cellulite (microneedling can’t really do much for cellulite)
Image source: Instagram @skinbym.studio
Who Is a Suitable Candidate for Dermapen Microneedling?
Anyone who’s dealing with an issue derma pen is known to improve, but doesn’t fall into any of the contraindication categories below.
Who Isn’t a Suitable Candidate for Dermapen Microneedling?
Contraindications for the derma pen treatment are:
- Active acne
- Lip herpes or other local skin infection
- Moderate to severe chronic skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis
- Blood clotting or bleeding disorders
- Ongoing blood-thinning medication therapy
- Proneness to keloid scarring
- Ongoing cancer therapy
This list is not final. Consult your esthetician and GP if you have any conditions and let them assess whether you’re a candidate.
What Is the Treatment Like?
When you hear skin and needling in the same sentence, it might sound scary. So let’s go through the treatment step by step to assure you it’s not scary at all.
Step 1 – Assessment
You will have a chat with your esthetician. They will observe your skin to assess the severity of the issue(s) you want treated. They will give you a ballpark estimate of how many sessions you’ll need, and what results you can expect.
Step 2 – Cleaning the Area
Since the skin will be broken with needles, the area has to be clean of all bacteria, dirt, makeup and skincare residues. The esthetician will wipe the area with a disinfectant cleanser.
Step 3 – Topical Anesthesia
A numbing cream is applied onto the area and left to sit until the skin is numb. Facial skin numbs within 15-20 minutes, but the body and scalp can take as long as 40 minutes. Some techs will cover the area with a plastic wrap to maximize the effects. After that, the cream is wiped off.
The numbing will eliminate the pain of the dermapen microneedling.
Step 4 – Dermapen Microneedling
A special serum or blend of serums is applied onto the area. The derma pen is pressed against the skin, and the tech will move it around back and forth, allowing the needles which go in and out automatically to make tiny channels in the skin. There will likely be some pinpoint bleeding, but this is normal and expected.
They may go over the face area more than once.
This part takes 10-20 minutes, but it may take longer if the area treated is large, or if they’re treating a scalp with a lot of hair on it.
Step 5 – Cleaning, Again
The skin is cleaned from serum residues and blood.
Step 6 – Soothing Mask or Gel
If you’re doing a derma pen facial, the tech will apply a soothing mask onto your face to calm it and cool it down. After that, they’ll apply some SPF, since freshly treated skin shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight.
If the area treated is somewhere on the body, they’ll apply a soothing gel. You can do without SPF since the area will likely be covered with clothing.
Does Derma Pen Microneedling Hurt?
Not really, since a) numbing is used, and b) the needles are very thin and they don’t go that deep into the skin. The treatment might be a bit uncomfortable, but if you feel actual pain, tell your tech. They may need to readjust the needle length.
It’s said to be less uncomfortable than derma rolling.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
This depends on the severity of the skin condition(s) that are being worked on, and how your skin reacts to the treatment. Most clients get a slight improvement after the 1st session, and a significant improvement after 3 sessions.
But more severe conditions may require as much as 6 sessions.
The sessions should be booked 3-6 weeks apart, to let the skin heal between them.
Image source: Instagram @julieross_aestheticienne
How Long Does a Session Take?
Up to 30 minutes on average, but may take longer if numbing requires more than 20 minutes.
Does Dermapen Microneedling Require Preparation?
There are some things you should avoid before the treatment and between sessions so your skin is in the best shape possible and everything goes smoothly:
- Avoid Accutane for 6 months before the treatment.
- Avoid laser/IPL treatments for at least 2 weeks before the treatment.
- Don’t expose the area to sunlight at least 2 weeks before the treatment.
- Don’t take blood-thinning medication or supplements like ibuprofen or aspirin at least 1 week before the treatment – there will be more bleeding and you might bruise.
- Don’t wax the area or use hair removal creams for 5-7 days before the treatment.
- Don’t use retinol, acids, mechanical and chemical exfoliation, topical antibiotics, and similar harsh products on the area for 5-7 days before the treatment – these thin out the skin and make it more sensitive.
- Don’t shave the area on the day of the treatment.
- Don’t take anti-inflammatory medications at least 3 days before the treatment – these can interfere with your natural inflammatory process as a response to the needling.
*If you’re prone to cold sores, consult your doctor and have them prescribe an antiviral med before the treatment to prevent a flare-up.
Image source: Instagram @dermaplazmapen
What About Derma Pen Aftercare?
After the treatment, the tiny channels in your skin will be open for a few days, and you need to pay some special attention to it to make sure the recovery mechanisms aren’t disrupted, it heals properly and to prevent infection:
- Don’t put ice or any cold compress onto the area.
- Don’t pick at, scratch, or rub the area.
- Don’t touch the area with unclean fingers or any other unsterile surface for as long as possible to prevent infection.
- For at least 48 hours, don’t put any makeup on your face. After that, try not to use makeup brushes, or at least wash them before each use.
- For at least 48 hours, try to avoid sweating, so no working out, no hot showers, jacuzzis, saunas or steam baths.
- For 3 days, wash your face with a mild cleanser (your esthetician will prescribe one) and warm water. Dry gently by tapping.
- Use the hydrating products your esthetician prescribes according to the schedule they determine. These will soothe the skin and aid healing, but also maximize the results of the treatment.
- Wear SPF in the days and weeks after the procedure for as long as possible.
You also need to rethink your skincare after the treatment. For a while, you should only use products your esthetician approves. Harsh ingredients could irritate the skin or affect its natural response.
What’s the Derma Pen Healing Period Like?
While the treatment is non-invasive, it does entail some symptoms of healing. It gets worse before it gets better! So you can expect the following in the first 7 days after each session:
Redness, Irritation and Tenderness
These can be quite intense on the day of the procedure, but should subside significantly in the next day or 2.
If the area treated is skin somewhere on the body, the redness can last up to 7 days, but it’s nothing serious.
Sensations of Heat, Tightness and Dryness
The area might feel like a sunburn for a few days. This discomfort can be relieved with the moisturizer your esthetician will probably prescribe.
Swelling and Bruising
The micro-trauma can cause some minor swelling or bruising. Don’t apply any cold compresses! They can disrupt the skin’s natural response, which is what you need to achieve improvement.
Image source: Instagram @aesthetics.with.lex
Is the Derma Pen Treatment Safe?
Yes, if done by an experienced esthetician who uses high-quality products.
However, we should mention the risks.
- Since the skin is broken, there’s always the chance of infection. Contamination can happen if the treatment is performed in unsterile conditions, or in the days after the treatment, before the micro-channels have closed up.
- The serums used can cause an allergic reaction, so a patch test should always be done beforehand.
- There’s also the chance of damaging the skin tissue and causing scarring if the needle length is not adjusted properly for skin thinness. But if you go to an experienced technician, there’s nothing to worry about.
How Soon Will I See an Improvement?
Some improvement will be visible right after the first treatment – the skin will look firmer and tighter – but for maximum results, you’ll have to be patient. The skin issue(s) you’re targeting will be improved with each session.
The one effect you can expect as soon as a few days after the treatment is radiance. The skin’s natural processes will give it a youthful glow.
And How Long Will the Effects Last?
This depends on which skin conditions you’re targeting.
Anti-aging effects need to be maintained, and should be refreshed once a year. The minimization or even elimination of scars can be permanent.
Image source: Instagram @lafemmelaclasse
Is Dermapen Microneedling Better than Derma Rolling?
Microneedling can be done with several tools, mainly the derma pen and the derma roller.
While the derma pen is an electric device that pierces the skin by stamping a cluster of thin stainless steel or titanium needles, the derma roller is a manual tool that consists of a handle and a drum covered with the needles that the tech rolls against the skin.
Most estheticians agree that, yes, the derma pen is a better tool for microneedling than a dermaroller.
- The derma pen features a cluster of needles concentrated on a small area, so it allows for more precision.
- It’s easier to move across bones and crevices than the large drum of the derma roller.
- The derma pen allows the tech to adjust the length of the needles according to the area of the skin treated, while the roller does not. Not every area should be treated with the same length.
- With the derma pen, there’s no risk of the technician putting too much pressure and overworking the skin like with the roller, where needle entrance depth is controlled solely by their hands.
- Finally, since the needles of the derma pen stamp the skin at a 90° angle and go in and out clean, the stamping motion is much gentler on the skin and causes less damage than the roller. The rolling motion means that the needles are in a slant position as they enter and leave the skin, which creates larger, crater-like channels which take longer to heal.
As you can see, the derma pen minimizes the chances of skin damage due to its adjustable configurations.
However, while you can do dermarolling yourself, at home, dermapen microneedling can only be done by licensed estheticians and dermatologists. The rollers sold over the counter have shorter needles that don’t reach deeper layers of the skin, so you can’t really do much damage. The derma pen has a wide range of needle lengths and you need to be trained on how to use it so as not to go too deep and cause permanent scarring.
How Much Does Dermapen Microneedling Cost?
The derma pen treatment is usually charged per session, and the average cost of a session is around $200. It varies from salon to salon though, so the price can be as low as $100 or as high as $350.
Many salons offer package deals if you book several sessions.
Derma Pen Treatment – Main Takeaways
An efficient skin treatment that abolishes the signs of aging, scarring, and many other skin imperfections, the derma pen treatment is a form of microneedling done exclusively with a microneedling pen – an electric device that punctures the skin with thin needles in stamp-like motions. This creates controlled trauma to the skin and triggers a series of mechanisms that cause healthy new skin to emerge, gradually improving the skin conditions targeted.
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