Microneedling therapy, also called collagen induction therapy (CIT), is a minimally invasive skin-rejuvenation procedure that involves the use of a device that contains fine needles. The needles are used to puncture the skin to create a controlled injury underneath the skin’s surface. This induces the body to respond through the formation of new tissue layers, elastin and collagen fibres, as well as new capillaries for an improved blood supply in the treated area. The skin plumps and thickens in response to this stimulus, ultimately reducing the appearance of scars, and fine lines and other skin texture changes. In addition to collagen induction therapy, the channels made from the micro-needles allow topical gels and creams to be absorbed more effectively through the top layer of the skin.
How Microneedling is Performed?
The skin is cleaned and numbed with Emla numbing cream for 15 to 20 minutes prior to the treatment in order to render the procedure painless. A hand held microneedling device is used to penetrate the skin up to 2.5 mm deep producing thousands of tiny puncture marks or micro-medical needle-channels. Microneedling therapy takes approximately an hour including the time for freezing.
Microneedling has a Short Recovery
Recovery from microneedling depends on the area and issues being treated. After microneedling, the skin will be pink or red in appearance for 24 to 48 hours. The skin is similar in appearance to having a sunburn, with possible minor bleeding and very occasionally mild bruising. The skin may also feel warm, tight and itchy for a short while. Generally the inflammatory reaction of the skin is short and fades significantly after a couple days.
Risks and Side Effects of Microneedling
Microneedling side effects and risks are minimal and typically include minor flaking or dryness of the skin, with some mild scab formation in rare circumstances. Infection is extremely rare. As this is a non-ablative treatment, hyper-pigmentation or darkening of the treated skin area is highly unlikely, but can occur in rare circumstances. This is usually temporary and subsides after the first couple of months. If you have a history of cold sores, then this could flare up after the microneedling treatment. Such patients should be on appropriate anti-viral medication prior to microneedling.
Post microneedling patients should:
- Use tepid water to cleanse the face for the first 48 hours following microneedling and drying the area gently without rubbing.
- Ensuring that your hands are always clean when touching the area treated with microneedling to avoid any infections.
- Avoid applying makeup products for the first 12 hours following microneedling.
When are Microneedling Results Noticeable?
It can take between 6-8 weeks before visible signs of skin regeneration are seen. This process will continue to evolve over the following months providing gradual improvement. Although a single microneedling treatment can provide a noticeable result, a series of 2 to 3 microneedling treatments that are spaced 6 to 8 weeks apart is recommended to achieve optimal results.
How Does Microneedling Compare?
Medical microneedling is a non-ablative treatment. Microneedling it does not remove top layer of skin. Alternatives to microneedling are ablative skin treatments such as lasers, chemical peels, and dermabrasion. These do remove the top layer of skin and subsequently have more extensive downtime with increased risks and side effects. However, in situations where the top layer of skin is more uniquely affected by severe changes in colour, wrinkles, and quality of skin, ablative treatments may be indicated and preferred over non-ablative skin treatments.
Microneedling can be combined with other treatments offered at the Calgary clinic to obtain optimal results, please discuss with your medical aesthetician.
Microneedling is not suitable for patients who:
- Have used Accutane (isotretinoin) within the last 6 months
- Have open wounds, cuts or abrasions on the skin.
- Have had radiation treatment to the skin within the last year.
- Have any kind of current skin infection, condition, herpes simplex in the area to be treated.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Have any history of keloid or hypertrophic scars or poor wound healing.
Contributed by Megan Starke, Medical Aesthetician, The Nardella Clinic of Calgary, Naturopaths and Health Practitioners, Calgary, Alberta
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