Microneedling Gone Wrong - Potential Risks & How to Prevent Them

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on December 2, 2022

Like any other skincare treatment, cases of microneedling gone wrong unfortunately do occur sometimes. Here’s what can happen and how you can prevent it.


Image source: Freepik

Microneedling is praised by literally everyone. It seems like it’s a solution to basically every skin concern. But because of its popularity and high demand, this treatment is offered by everyone, certified or not.

That might worry you – and for a good reason. Practitioners shouldn’t be able to offer skin treatment they weren’t trained for. Researching the treatment, you might have googled phrases like microneedling bad results and microneedling gone wrong to see what is the worst that can happen.

Well, microneedling done the way it’s supposed to is safe. But done by a non-expert in a substandard way, microneedling gone wrong can happen, as the risks and side effects are increased.

Let’s explain what can happen if microneedling is done recklessly, and not taken as seriously as it’s supposed to be.

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How Can Microneedling Go Wrong?

Most often, microneedling gone wrong stories are related to treatments done at home because of the improper use of the microneedling device.

However, this isn’t to say that at-home microneedling is always unsafe. Or that salon microneedling is always safe. There are exceptions to both that can cause bad microneedling experiences.

Heightened risks and more severe microneedling side effects are usually associated with at-home treatments but untrained “professionals” can also cause damage to your skin. Here’s what can happen.

Skin Reaction

Doing patch tests for microneedling isn’t really common practice for microneedling, there’s a higher chance of allergic reactions.

If you are prone to allergic reactions, rashes, and have sensitive skin, alert your technician beforehand. If you know certain ingredients don’t agree with your skin, tell them to avoid unnecessary complications.

Microneedling is always paired with a serum. Punctures in the skin help the absorption of the product, making it more effective as it penetrates the skin deeper than usual. But this might cause your skin to react negatively, especially if you are someone with sensitive skin. Certain ingredients can irritate the skin and make it sting or even burn. That’s not supposed to happen.

Allergic reactions in the form of rashes are rare, but they are possible. They require a visit to the doctor’s and you’ll probably be prescribed an antihistamine. If you are using numbing cream before the procedure, it’s possible you might react to some of its ingredients. If that’s the case, the reaction will be known even before the procedure begins.

Extensive Bruising

Some slight bruising is a common side effect of microneedling. But when the tool is pressed too hard it can pierce the skin much deeper than it should. Bruising is more likely to happen if you are prone to it in general. Also, this is why you should avoid blood thinners as they contribute to easier and more severe bruising.

This side effect shouldn’t be something extensive and should clear within a few (4-5) days. Otherwise, it might be a cause for concern. That being said, if you feel like something’s wrong don’t wait for it to pass – contact your doctor immediately.


This issue shouldn’t arise during the procedure. After all, you are doing the procedure to get rid of it in the first place. However, with improper use, it’s possible to make this condition worse.

Scarring occurs when microneedling is performed incorrectly. Mostly, by pressing the device too hard or needling the area too many times.

This issue is more common for dermarollers, especially among home users. However, it isn’t unheard of for it to happen in salons either when booking an appointment with an untrained and inexperienced technician.

Another mistake untrained technicians can make is with a dermapen. Dermapen tool is used exclusively in salons and is considered a better option than dermaroller because its needles are adjustable.

The skin isn’t the same thickness everywhere and thinner parts should be treated with shorter needles, not puncturing deeper than necessary. Not adjusting the dermapen needles properly can also be the cause of the scarring and bruising.

Hyperpigmentation + Inflammation

Although you might’ve chosen to do microneedling to get rid of hyperpigmentation, you actually might worsen it. Usually microneedling is accompanied by a minor inflammation, but if done properly that side effect subsides not long after the end of the procedure.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (aka the darker stains on the skin) can affect anyone, but it’s more likely to happen to people with a darker complexion. Hyperpigmentation occurs when pigment-producing cells are overstimulated to produce melanin, the pigment. That process starts due to inflammation and results in discoloration or staining of the skin.

Inflammation is the main reason why microneedling sessions need to be spaced apart. Your skin requires time to heal. If you interrupt the healing process with another session you will damage your skin and make it more inflamed. And the whole point of safe microneedling is to reduce unnecessary inflammation. More on that in a bit.


Infections during microneedling are caused by contaminated needles in the device or lack of proper aftercare.

To avoid the microneedling risk of infection, the tip of the tool (needle cartridge) needs to be new, unused and sterilized. In a salon, the technician knows how to do that properly. But at home people disregard the importance of this.

Some infections are obvious (swelling, pus and redness), but they can be much more subtle as well. Your skin might just be irritated and seemingly not healing. Swollen lymph nodes are also a symptom of an infection.

If you suspect an infection, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. You will probably be prescribed antibiotics.


A granuloma is a tiny cluster of white blood cells and other tissue. They form as a reaction to infections, inflammation, and irritation.

Skin granulomas are a harmless skin condition that causes raised, sometimes pink-colored bumps under the skin. They can be caused by substances that irritate the skin, or when an infection starts as this is a body’s natural way of containing the infection.

Granulomas are very rarely caused by microneedling, but if the treatment is done poorly there is a possibility of granuloma forming. More often, the granuloma is formed after the treatment.

A lot of skincare products are formulated to be topical and only used at the skin’s surface, not go deep into the skin layers – therefore, they’re not supposed to be used for microneedling, but sometimes, due to negligence.

If they contain harmful ingredients (such as silicones, preservatives, and fragrance), it could potentially lead to skin sensitivity, allergic reactions, rashes, and granuloma, as they’re deposited inside of the skin, inside of the wound; not on top of uninjured skin.

What Classifies as Microneedling Gone Wrong?

If done incorrectly, microneedling risks have higher chances of happening and some microneedling side effects are more prominent than they should be. However, some side effects are a part of the normal healing process. Redness and tenderness are to be expected – up to a certain point.

You need to differentiate between microneedling side effects and microneedling gone wrong. Here’s a quick list to help you identify symptoms.

What’s normal and to be expected:

  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Irritation
  • Dryness
  • Slight inflammation
  • Slight swelling
  • Slight bruising

What’s not normal and is a cause for concern:

  • Redness and bruising that isn’t going away
  • Prolonged inflammation
  • Your skin is painful to touch
  • Any signs of infection
  • Any signs of allergic reactions
  • Emerging discoloration

microneedling gone wrong examples
Image source: Instagram @celibre

How to Avoid Microneedling Gone Wrong

Microneedling treatment is considered safe and even one of the least invasive skin treatments, especially considering its many benefits.

But as with every other skincare procedure, there are some microneedling risks and microneedling side effects. The risks can easily be avoided if the treatment is done properly. Otherwise, there’s a possibility of microneedling gone wrong.

So, what can you do to ensure safe and successful microneedling treatment?

When booking in a salon, make sure you are booking with a licensed and experienced professional that has undergone safety training.

When doing it at home, make sure everything is sterile and you are being gentle. You might not see the difference immediately after the treatment, but it’s better not to overdo it than to regret doing too much.

Microneedling Go Wrong – Main Takeaways

In theory, anyone’s skin can react to any treatment or product. It pretty much seems like it’s dependent on luck. There will always be some bad microneedling experiences, rare cases that are out of the expected norm. It seems like a gamble. But being armed with as much knowledge as possible can help.



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