Microneedling for Acne Scars - All You Need to Know
Microneedling is very successful in treating scars of various origins. Here’s all the info on microneedling for acne scars.
We all have some skin imperfections we may be more or less insecure about. One of the most common complexion issues is acne, and the structural changes that remain on the skin after intense acne breakouts. Not only is acne annoying when it’s active, it also leaves scarring and discoloration when it goes away.
Luckily, there’s a treatment that can minimize, or even eliminate them. Microneedling for acne scars is the go-to treatment for improving the texture and tone of the skin.
Here’s all you need to know about it.
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Microneedling is a skin treatment that can be used to treat a wide range of skin conditions. It’s a form of collagen induction therapy, meaning it’s done by afflicting controlled microtrauma to the skin and triggering its regeneration processes and stimulating the production of collagen and elastin.
Microtrauma is created by puncturing the skin with tiny needles – either a derma pen or a derma roller. Needles penetrate the skin and create microchannels. These openings allow for increased absorption of the products used, and as the skin restores them, the skin emerges healthier.
Microneedling can be used to treat:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Loss of elasticity
- Dull skin
- Acne scars
- Other forms of scarring on the face and body
- Stretch marks
- Enlarged pores
- Hair loss
Microneedling is always done as a series of treatments rather than a one-and-done, although even the first treatment can give some improvement.
Image source: Instagram @philingshilal
Does Microneedling for Acne Scars Work on All Types of Scars?
Acne scars most often emerge in the form of hollows of varying sizes – atrophic scars. The microtrauma caused as part of microneedling stimulates the production of so-called growth factors, proteins that aid the regeneration of damaged skin. As these growth factors are sent to the epidermis and the skin produces new cells, the hollows are “filled in”, so to say, from within, and the texture is minimized.
How quickly and how efficiently microneedling for acne scars will be depends on the type of atrophic scarring. There are several types of atrophic acne scars:
- Boxcar – wide hollows with defined edges
- Rolling – vary in depth, no defined edges
- Ice pick – small, but deep hollows
Boxcar and rolling scars can be treated with microneedling very successfully, while ice pick scars can be quite resilient to the treatment.
Acne scarring can also emerge in the form of hypertrophic or keloid scarring, as scar tissue elevates from the skin surface. Microneedling can be quite effective in treating this form of scarring.
Finally, acne breakouts can leave discolored spots. This isn’t scarring per se, and chances are these hyperpigmentations will fade over time, but for people who don’t want to wait, microneedling can give significant improvement.
Image source: Instagram @shineclinic_77
Can Microneedling Treat Active Acne?
No, microneedling shouldn’t be used on active acne. Essentially, acne is pores clogged with sebum where bacteria develops. If they’re opened up with needles which then go over skin that isn’t affected, the bacteria spreads.
Plus, the inflamed skin will get irritated further.
Can I Do Microneedling for Acne Scars at Home?
The at-home version of microneedling is called derma rolling, since it’s done exclusively with a dermaroller (a derma pen is not approved for at-home use). The dermaroller for acne scars you can buy over the counter has needles of 0.5 mm in length, which is shorter than the needles used for professional treatments.
This is because longer needles can cause damage when used by an untrained hand.
DIY derma rolling for acne scars can definitely give you an improvement in terms of skin quality, but the results will take more time to emerge, and you may not get the desired results, due to the shorter needles.
Nevertheless, it’s obviously much cheaper to DIY it, so if your case isn’t that severe and your acne scars aren’t that deep, you might achieve great results at home.
But if your case is severe, it’s advisable to see a professional. Dermatologists and estheticians can combine microneedling with other treatments and professional products to give you the best results possible.
Image source: Freepik
What’s the Treatment Like?
Let’s go through the treatment step by step so you know what to expect. Note that the at-home treatment is much the same, only you’ll be using a derma roller and you don’t need numbing since the needles are short.
Step 1 – Consults and Assessment
Your dermatologist or esthetician will inspect the area to assess the severity of the scarring and tell you what results you can expect and how many treatments you’ll need. They will ask you some questions about your medical history to make sure the treatment is safe for you.
Step 2 – Cleaning
The area is cleaned with a gentle cleaner that won’t irritate the skin. Since the skin will be broken, it needs to be clean of any makeup or product residues and sebum, to prevent infection.
Step 3 – Numbing
An anesthetic in the form of a gel or cream is applied onto the area to eliminate any possible pain. It’s left to sit for a certain time, usually 15 to 20 minutes.
Some estheticians use a plastic seal wrap to lock in the numbing and maximize the effect.
Step 4 – Skin Needling
When the skin is numb, the needling starts.
The tech will apply a serum or gel that will maximize the effects of the treatment. They will go back and forth over it with either a dermapen or a dermaroller. The micro-injuries will cause the skin to turn red, and there might be some pinpoint bleeding – this is totally normal.
The needling takes 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the area treated.
Step 5 – Cleaning
The area is cleaned of serum residues and blood.
Step 6 – Mask or Serum
Finally, the tech will apply a soothing mask onto the area.
They may also apply an SPF, since the area needs to be protected from sun radiation for the rest of the day, at least.
Does the Treatment Hurt?
Not really. If you’re getting professional microneedling for acne scars the tech will use a numbing cream, and if you’re doing it yourself, the needles are so short they don’t cause pain. It may be a bit uncomfortable, though.
Image source: Instagram @maisondeglow
Is Microneedling for Acne Scars Safe?
Yes, if done right, in sterile conditions and with the right needle length and products.
Otherwise, the risks are:
- If the treatment isn’t done in sterile conditions, or if your skin gets contaminated after the treatment before it’s had time to close up the microchannels, you can develop an infection.
- The products used along with the needling can cause an allergic reaction – this is prevented by patch testing them first.
- If you have active acne and you get microneedling over it, the bacteria can spread to the rest of the skin and cause a major breakout.
- If the skin is overworked, there’s a small chance of permanent scarring. It’s always advisable to see a professional who will assess your skin and prescribe the therapy schedule, regardless of whether you’ll get the professional service, or DIY it.
Is There Any Healing or Aftercare?
If you’re getting professional microneedling for acne scars, your skin will be red and irritated for up to 7 days after each session. It will take 6-8 weeks for it to fully heal, and that’s when you can book your next session.
After each session, pay some special attention to the treated area for a few days:
- Don’t put cold compresses onto the area.
- Don’t pick at, scratch, or rub the area.
- Don’t touch the area.
- For at least 48 hours, don’t put any makeup on your face. After that, wash your brushes after each use.
- For at least 48 hours, avoid sweating, hot showers, jacuzzis, saunas or steam baths.
- For 3 days, wash your face with a mild cleanser (your esthetician will probably prescribe one). Dry gently by tapping.
- Use the products your esthetician prescribes according to schedule.
- Wear SPF for as long as possible.
Only use products that your esthetician green-lights. Harsh products could irritate the skin or affect its natural response.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
This depends on the severity of your acne scars and how well your skin reacts to the treatment. Minor scarring takes fewer sessions; deep, especially ice pick scarring takes more. Most clients get a significant improvement after about 4-6 professional sessions, or 3-6 months of consistent, frequent derma rolling at home.
It’s important to note that microneedling doesn’t treat acne scars in isolation – it improves the general state and appearance of the skin, so you will see some benefits after as little as 1-2 treatments.
With microneedling, you have to be patient and persistent. The results take time, but when they do come, you’ll definitely be satisfied.
Don’t take our word for it – check out our gallery of microneedling acne scars before and after pics here and see for yourself.
Image source: Instagram @myladieslounge
Derma Pen or Derma Roller for Acne Scars – Which Is Better?
A derma pen is a pen-shaped electric machine that has a cluster of needles at the tip. The needles go in and out of the skin, going as far into it as necessary – the thickness of the skin varies in different areas so the needle length has to be adjusted.
A derma roller is a hand-controlled device which has a drum covered in needles. The drum is rolled against the skin, allowing for the needles to penetrate it.
Generally, the derma pen is considered a better option for microneedling any condition, including microneedling for acne scars, because its needles penetrate the skin at a 90° angle, so the microdamage is inflicted with maximum precision, and the microchannels close up faster. Plus, the needle length can be adjusted. Treatments with a derma pen give faster and more prominent results.
The derma roller can also give good results, but it’s more aggressive on the skin. The rolling motion means the needles penetrate the skin at a slant angle, and leave wider, crater-like channels. Since the length of the needles can’t be adjusted, it can take longer for the derma roller to give results.
The derma roller for acne scars is suitable for at-home use, though, while the derma pen is only suitable for professional use.
Image source: Instagram @cristinafernandes.dermabeauty
How Much Does Microneedling for Acne Scars Cost?
Microneedling for acne scars is charged per session, so the more sessions you need, the higher the final cost will be. The price of a session can cost between $100 and $350, but the average cost is around $200.
It all depends on the size of the area treated, and the exclusivity of the salon you’re going to.
Microneedling for Acne Scars – Main Takeaways
If you’re dealing with the consequences of acne in the form of atrophic, hypertrophic, keloid scarring, or hyperpigmentation, microneedling for acne scars is bound to help. The extent to which your scars can be diminished depends on the severity and the type of scarring, as well as the number of sessions you get. The results take time to emerge, so you have to be patient and persistent.