Microneedling the Next Big Thing in Skin Care
Microneedling also known as Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), medical skin needling, dermal needling or micro-needling, is a relatively new but popular cosmetic procedure. Used for skin regeneration and treatment of various skin conditions such as scarring, wrinkles and stretch marks. It’s considerably cheaper than other rejuvenating treatments such as resurfacing lasers, and has been found to be effective at promoting collagen.
Microneedling the procedure
The procedure involves the use of an electronic pen or roller device studded with microneedles as small as 0.1mm in diameter. It creates hundreds of micro-punctures through the skin with minimal damage to the upper epidermal layer, but microscopic injury to the deeper dermal layer. The injury and minor bleeding trigger a “wound-healing” cascade in the skin. This results in increased collagen and elastin (elastic fibres) production and some degree of repair.
Microneedling is usually performed using a topical anaesthetic cream to ease discomfort, and may take up to an hour depending on the size of area being treated.
The skin should ideally be pre-treated with appropriate skin care products that can boost skin regeneration, such as retinoid (vitamin A) creams, and antioxidants including vitamin C.
Following the procedure, patients can expect some pinpoint bleeding that settles quickly, as well as redness and some minor discomfort. They may experience some mild swelling and persistent redness for a few days.
Fortunately, complications are uncommon. Skin infections, reactivation of herpes simplex (cold sores), inflamed pigmentation and aggravation of skin diseases have been reported.
Raised scarring has also been reported, but is rare. The superficial needle holes close rapidly (in around 15 minutes), which means getting a skin infection is highly unlikely.
Advancements in the industry
Studies have shown significant improvement in the appearance of wrinkles and scars following microneedling. This is due to collagen and elastic fibre production that help the skin become more “filled out”. The tiny injuries to the dermal (deeper) layer of the skin cause an inflammatory cascade, triggering proliferation of cells in the dermis (upper layer) and subsequent new skin formation.
Researchers have demonstrated increased collagen and elastin thickness in skin biopsies after microneedling, and this improvement is usually evident within three to four weeks. Further changes can be seen for some months.
Although definite improvement is usually seen, it may be subtle and slow. The efficacy and results may be enhanced using combination treatments such as microneedling with chemical peels or platelet-rich plasma (components found in blood that enhance healing).
In most studied cases, people required multiple treatments over a long period of time to achieve good results.
Generally speaking, the more aggressive a procedure is, the fewer the number of treatments required to achieve the desired result. But this also means more healing time. Choosing the right option can be a complicated process, and depends on the nature and severity of the patient’s problem, coexisting complaints, skin type and desired outcome, as well as budget and lifestyle factors. Some clinicians may promote a procedure due to availability and experience, but the cumulative cost and ability to achieve the desired result should be carefully considered in all cases before embarking on treatment.
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