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The first time I witnessed the magic of microneedling, I sat in a room at a dermatologists office, holding my sisters iced tea and watching her face bleed. (Shed gotten enough topical anesthesia to numb an elephant—dont worry.)
But the results were worth it: Her skin was glowing and clear just in time for her wedding. “Microneedling is the creation of small micro-channels and injuries to your skin with acupuncture-size needles,” says Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., a dermatologist at Entière Dermatology in New York City. “Your body will respond to these micro-injuries naturally by stimulating and producing collagen, which can treat fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, stretch marks, acne scars, and textural concerns.”
But all of that payoff is the work of in-office microneedling, which requires a licensed aesthetician or dermatologist as well as good layer of anesthesia, depending on your pain tolerance.
So when NYC dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D., recommended at-home microneedling as a possible solution for acne scars, I was intrigued. I could do this? On my couch? While watching the final episodes of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? I couldnt sign up fast enough, having recently endured a months-long breakout that left my skin blotchy and uneven.
Though microneedling at home wont nab you quite the same results (as the needles are both shorter and duller), it can still offer benefits. “At-home rollers don’t pierce your skin as deeply as the medical-grade devices, but they can be used to enhance the penetration of products—be it hydrating, brightening, or rejuvenating actives—that are applied postperforation, as it creates these open channels,” says Dr. Engelman.
I accidentally started without reading the directions (old habits die hard), but the good news? Its pretty foolproof. Unlike devices that work on a timer, the microneedle roller turns on and off the old-fashioned way—that is, with a button.
So I had no idea how long I was rolling it around certain sections of my face and still didnt experience any redness or irritation. (I now know that youre supposed to roll each area for 15 seconds.) I began with my chin, moved up to either cheek, and finished with my forehead. Youre supposed to roll over each area in a pattern.
“Go over the area in an asterisk: up and down, side to side, diagonally left up to right, and diagonally right up to left,” says Dr. Engelman. The microneedling itself was fine: You can feel pricks, but it wasnt painful. Then, because Im a glutton for punishment, I topped it with some glycolic acid. Reader, it hurt.
Fortunately, it subsided pretty quickly, and I followed up with my usual antioxidant serum and lightweight moisturizer. The next morning I awoke to find that the dark spots on one cheek looked diffused—and while it seems counterintuitive, some redness had dissipated from my problem areas. My skin looked a little calmer and noticeably brighter. Its worth noting that microneedling tools come with some risk.
“The at-home microneedling devices are difficult to clean and dull quickly,” Dr. Levin notes. “There is a higher risk of infection, discoloration, and injury to your skin.” Dr. Engelman agrees: “Piercing your skin by any means creates an open channel, thereby increasing your chances of getting an infection,” she says. “As with all procedures, make sure to use sterile tools if you’re doing it at home.” (Shes a fan of Environ Cosmetic Gold Roll-CIT, which has a coating of naturally bacteria-resistant gold.) But BeautyBio also does its due diligence by packing an empty spray bottle with the roller, which you can then fill with a DIY sanitizer. “We recommend spritzing the microneedles with isopropyl alcohol—70 percent or higher—after each use to completely sanitize and sterilize the needles, and letting it air-dry,” OBanion says.
As long as you can manage your expectations and use it prudently, microneedling at home seems to be a worthwhile option if youre not ready for the real, in-office thing. Ill keep it up since I noticed a difference—so, as it turned, no pain, some gain.
Micropenning, or microneedling in its more intense form, is the latest in skin revitalization. These new, innovative treatments offer a safe alternative to common skin resurfacing tools, such as lasers and dermal rollers, and has minimal to no downtime! Micro-needling not only helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but also has a positive effect on uneven skin tone and acne scars—improving the skin’s overall appearance to give you a fresher, younger look.
At SkinSpirit, we offer complimentary consultations in our clinics throughout Northern California and metro Seattle. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of micro-needling (or micropenning), book your appointment online or call us at (855) 383-7546. WHAT IS MICRO-PENNING? Micro-penning instigates the skin’s repair process, resulting in improved texture and softer wrinkles. WHAT IS MICRO-NEEDLING? Micro-needling is deeper and more intense, yielding greater change in terms of improved and softer wrinkles than micropenning but with a longer recovery time.