Microneedling Stretch Marks - How Does It Work?
Microneedling can help diminish the appearance of a wide range of skin conditions, including stretch marks. Here’s what you can achieve by microneedling stretch marks.
Microneedling seems to be becoming the go-to skin treatment for virtually any condition or imperfection. It’s a relatively non-invasive procedure that works with the skin’s natural processes and uses them for the purpose of rejuvenation and improvement in appearance and texture.
It’s a treatment that can be performed on the skin of the face, scalp, or body, so microneedling stretch marks is definitely possible. In fact, it’s arguably the best option.
Let’s explain how microneedling for stretch marks is done, what processes it triggers, what results can be achieved, and answer any other questions you may have.
Table of contents - Skip to a specific paragraph
What Is Microneedling?
Microneedling is a skin treatment that involves creating micro-trauma to the skin in order to trigger its regeneration processes, causing the skin to improve in texture, internal structure, integrity, and appearance as a result of all that.
It’s done by using either a dermapen or a dermaroller with thin needles to create punctures of varying depth. When the skin is punctured, a microchannel is created. The body engages the regeneration process to patch up the micro-injury, but the microchannel has an additional function – it makes a path for special serums which can now penetrate the skin directly.
But it’s important to note that microneedling is never a one-time procedure, no matter which issue is being treated. It takes time and repetition to build up the collagen levels and get new skin to replace old, damaged skin.
Therefore, microneedling is always done as a series of sessions, regardless of whether you’re getting a professional treatment or doing it yourself. A professional treatment can be much more effective due to the fact it’s done with longer needles, but for minor imperfections, DIY-ing it with a derma roller will do just fine.
For more information, check out our comprehensive guide through the microneedling technique.
Image source: Instagram @moa.academy
How Does Microneedling Stretch Marks Work?
Microneedling the stretch marks employs the same processes as microneedling any other condition – the stretch mark is treated with the dermapen or dermaroller over and over again, introducing hydrating serums into the skin.
To explain how the principle is used for stretch marks, we have to look into what stretch marks actually are.
Essentially, a stretch mark is a scar. It’s the consequence of the disruption of the collagen and elastin web in the skin (the network of proteins that give the skin its structure, among other functions). As a result of sudden weight gain (due to hormonal changes in adolescence, pregnancy, rapid muscle or fat gain), the web is stretched too far and it breaks. It cannot adapt fast enough, and scars form as a result.
Microneedling stretch marks create punctures in the scar tissue. The micro-injury is a signal for the body to increase the amount of collagen and elastin in the area. The freshly produced proteins gradually recover the broken web, and as a result, the trenches of stretch marks are plumped up, eventually leveled out with the surrounding undamaged skin.
An additional effect is an increase in skin cell turnover, meaning new, healthy cells are produced faster. Plus, the serums applied supply extra moisture and increase its retention, which contributes to the plumping process.
The collagen network recovery takes time, and with each session, it’s improved more and more.
Image source: Instagram @mirkofrank991
Is This Treatment Effective for Any Type of Stretch Marks?
Microneedling works better for newer stretch marks. The older the stretch mark is, the tougher the tissue gets, so it’s more stubborn and more difficult to treat. That said, there will definitely be some improvement.
When a stretch mark first emerges, it can be red, pink, purplish or dark brown, but it will lighten into a whitish or grayish over time. White and gray stretch marks are therefore the hardest to treat, but not impossible.
While it’s better to treat the stretch marks sooner, it’s not advisable to microneedle stretch marks so new that they’re still tender.
A recent study shows that microneedling stretch marks is more effective on areas where the skin is thicker – thigh, buttocks – than on the areas where it’s thinner (like the breasts). All areas show some improvement, though.
Image source: Instagram @kissandmakeupglasgow
Which Is Better for Microneedling Stretch Marks – Dermapen or Dermaroller?
Both tools can give an improvement, but to answer this question, several factors have to be considered. So let’s look into each method.
Derma Roller for Stretch Marks
Using a dermaroller for stretch marks can be done as a professional treatment, or you can do it yourself, at home. The difference is how long the needles of the derma roller will be.
A derma roller approved for home use has needles up to 0.5 mm in length. Any longer than that and you can cause permanent damage to the skin, since you’re not a trained specialist.
These needles still puncture the skin, but the microchannels are relatively shallow, so their effectiveness in boosting the collagen and elastin production is limited, and it takes a long time. They still provide a path for hydrating serums to reach deeper into the skin, and they still accelerate the skin cell turnover.
These effects are usually sufficient in diminishing small, newer stretch marks – it all depends on how dramatically your body responds.
Professionals use longer needles for dermarolling stretch marks, so they trigger a more intense response. As a result, you need fewer sessions to achieve results.
But something experts emphasize as a potential problem with the derma roller, regardless of needle length, is the aggressiveness of the penetration of the needles.
The derma roller is, well, rolled across the skin. The rolling motion means the needles enter the skin at a slanted angle, and leave it in the same way, leaving wider, crater-like microchannels. This means the skin takes longer to recover and the control over the injuries is decreased, so there’s a higher chance of damage than with the derma pen.
Derma Pen for Microneedling Stretch Marks
The derma pen is considered to be the far more advanced tool for microneedling in general, and this includes microneedling for stretch marks. However, the derma pen is only approved for professional use by trained experts, so it’s not suitable for at-home use.
The derma pen allows the technician to adjust the length of the needles, so they can go as far as 2.5 mm into the skin. This triggers a much more intense response, meaning more collagen and elastin are produced in less time.
The needles of the derma pen penetrate the skin at a 90-degree angle, and this motion is much gentler on the tissue, while still doing the job.
Plus, there are many hybrid devices which perform microneedling and radiofrequency (RF) therapy at the same time, achieving maximum efficiency.
Image source: Freepik
Does the Process Hurt?
The needles used are so thin you will probably feel some weird tingling at most. However, if you’re getting a professional treatment with longer needles, a topical anesthetic can be used to numb the area.
With the derma roller stretch marks may be more sensitive.
Will Microneedling Eliminate Stretch Marks Totally?
It depends on the toughness, size and age of the stretch marks. A more realistic expectation is that microneedling will diminish their appearance significantly and even out their texture. They may not disappear entirely, but they’ll become much less prominent.
Are the Results Permanent?
It deepens, but most clients need maintenance every 6-12 months, to maintain the collagen and elastin structure. Even if they show back up, the stretch marks treated with microneedling won’t be as prominent as they were before.
Is Microneedling Stretch Marks Safe?
Yes, it’s perfectly safe if it’s done right.
The only risks are:
- and permanent damage to the tissue (more scarring emerging around the stretch marks) – somewhat greater with dermarolling stretch marks as opposed to using a derma pen, but still quite low
All of these risks can be prevented:
- Allergies to the products used are prevented by doing a patch test in advance
- Infection is prevented by proper tool sterilization and being careful not to get the area contaminated after the treatment
- With proper technique and suitable needle length, there’s no risk of permanent damage.
Is Microneedling Stretch Marks Safe on Dark Skin?
Yes. While some cosmetic treatments carry a risk of hypopigmentation when performed on melanin-rich skin, microneedling does not, according to this study.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Since microneedling is essentially creating trauma, some side effects are normal and expected – they’re even desirable!
- As the skin is punctured, there will be an increased blood flow into the area (which is a good thing, since blood provides oxygen and nutrients), and subsequent redness.
- The area can be tender (especially newer stretch marks) after the treatment.
- There might be some swelling and minor bruising.
- The area may feel a bit tight.
All these will subside within a few hours for at-home dermarolling stretch marks, and within 2-3 days for more aggressive, skin pen microneedling.
Image source: Instagram @ksmedspa
What’s the Healing Like?
Quite straightforward. The skin will close up the microchannels relatively quickly (after a few days max) and the processes will continue underneath.
Apart from the initial side-effects described above, there might be some minor peeling or flaking a few days after the treatment, as the skin is exfoliating itself.
Is There Any Aftercare?
A bit, but it’s really simple:
- Keep the treated area away from sunlight for a while (ideally 2 weeks).
- Make sure the area doesn’t get contaminated – don’t touch it and try to prevent contact with unsterile surfaces. Wear clean clothes.
- Use products your technician prescribes.
How Much Does Microneedling for Stretch Marks Cost?
If you’re going for at-home dermarolling stretch marks, all you need is a derma roller (around $20) and a high-quality hydrating serum. So the cost is really low.
But if you decide to get a professional service (which is much more effective), the cost is around $200 per session. Most techs have a universal price for microneedling regardless of which condition and area of the skin is treated, but some have different tarifs.
They may determine the price based on the size of the area treated.
We have a detailed guide through the cost of microneedling if you need more information.
Microneedling Stretch Marks vs Stretch Mark Camouflage – Which Is Better?
The 2 most popular and effective options for getting rid of stretch marks are microneedling, and stretch mark camouflage with micropigmentation.
Stretch mark camouflage essentially implies tattooing the stretch marks to make them blend with the tone of the undamaged skin. This option actually entails some microneedling, since the tattooing is done by poking the skin. However, it cannot improve the skin texture as much as microneedling specifically for that purpose.
Micropigmentation disguises the stretch mark, but it doesn’t really treat it. Microneedling offers a more comprehensive treatment that targets the changes in texture, and thus treats the appearance, so it’s a more sustainable option.
There are now hybrid treatments available, though, which rely primarily on the microneedling technique, but use more or less pigmented serums to also blend the color.
Check out our article on stretch mark tattooing for more info.
Image source: Instagram @skin52_melbourne
Microneedling Stretch Marks – Main Takeaways
Microneedling is arguably the most effective way to treat stretch marks. It targets the issue from within, using the skin’s regeneration processes to repair the disrupted structure of essential proteins (collagen and elastin) to level out the texture of the skin. It’s a process that takes some time, and it may not straight-up eliminate the marks, but it will definitely make them much less prominent.