Skin and Needles: an unlikely paring

Updated: May 9

What sounds like the most unlikely pairing, and an unpleasant combination, is actually a wonderful way of baseline cosmetic skin care.



Let me explain how it works and why this is such a great and effective treatment for maintaining healthy skin over time:

Your skin is made up of three layers. Top to bottom they are: Epidermis, Dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The Epidermis is very thin, about 0.1mm, the underlying Dermis between 0.7mm to 4mm thick. The top layer contains cells that produce some pigment and protect the immune system, the deeper skin levels hold oil and sweat glands, hair follicle, nerves, deeper pigment and the all important collagen and elastin fibres for structure. The subcutaneous layer hosts mainly fat cells, arteries and veins.


The skin is our biggest organ with an amazing ability to renew, repair and heal. After suffering trauma like burns, cuts or tears, a cascade of healing mechanisms is activated and one of the most significant results is the triggering of new collagen synthesis. Collagen is the scaffolding for skin texture, elasticity, and firmness. Skin needling, also often referred to as micro-needling, adopts the amazing ability of our skin to self-repair after sustaining physical damage.



How does the process of skin needling work?


After a thorough cleanse and application of a topical numbing cream, tiny sterile needles are used to penetrate the top layer of the skin. Usually, this technique requires special vibrating “pens” with attached single-use needle heads.


The penetration depth of these needles can be adjusted according to body area and usually ranges from 0.25mm for the thin skin to the forehead to 1mm to cheeks and even deeper to other body locations. This process creates micro-channels of punctual “injuries” right into the dermis, triggering a natural healing response and therefore stimulation of new collagen formation. To make sure your skin does not sustain unwanted trauma and the needling process remains smooth, a gliding substance, e.g. hyaluronic acid serum, is applied on top of the skin. As needling creates micro-channels down into the dermis, this is also a perfect way of bringing moisturizer or extra growth factor and collagen stimulating substances right into these skin layers.


If you are after the ultimate natural collagen boost, you need to bring PRP into the equation. This refers to the use of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), prepared from your own blood plasma cells, applied via needling and injecting directly into your skin as a hyper-collagen booster. I have dedicated a bit more time on PRP treatment in a separate blog.


Skin needling is a safe procedure applied in a focused manner, with a duration of about 45 minutes including numbing time.

Immediately after completing your session, your skin will show some pin point bleeds, it will be red, slightly swollen and feeling somewhat tight and tender. This will significantly improve within the first 24 hours but might take 2-3 days to get back to a fully comfortable state. For up to a week, you might notice a sun burn like redness which usually fades and returns back to normal rather quickly. As part of the rejuvenation process, a lot of dry cells from the top layer of your skin will be removed, adding to the treated area feeling a bit tender and vulnerable for UV ray exposure. It is therefore vital to moisturize well, to apply sunscreen and to avoid direct sun exposure for a good week after your treatment.


Who will benefit from skin needling?

The quick answer is: it’s great for women and men and for all age groups! Skin needling has been shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, skin imperfections and scarring due to activation of the re-modelling process. Effects observed are smoother and firmer skin, improved skin tone and texture, leaving your skin looking younger and fresher. Results are usually visible within 6 weeks once the dermal re-modelling process has started. It is recommended to have 2-3 treatments about 4-6 weeks apart to ensure sufficient collagen stimulation, followed by regular maintenance sessions depending on the individual response.


When should you avoid skin needling?

As the procedure breaks the skin barrier and creates little trauma channels, skin needling can not be performed on already damaged or infected skin. So, if you have cuts or abrasions, suffer from recurrent cold sore, active acne or other skin conditions with higher risk of infection, you should avoid skin needling or allow sufficient time for your skin to heal up first. This is why a thorough assessment by a trained cosmetic professional and establishment of an individual treatment plan is so important. Safety first!


A quick word about home micro-needling

The most common and freely available at-home device is probably a dermaroller.


These devices have a mobile roller head with shorter needles for less risk of injury. They are intended to be used 2-3 times a week as part of the regular home skin care routine without numbing of the skin. All devices need to be cleansed with hot water after use and usually need replacement after about 100 applications. The collagen stimulation is not comparable to a professional skin needling session as reduced needle length and an often significant discomfort factor prevent from deeper skin penetration. Still, they are a great way to stimulate circulation and have proven to add to a lovely smoothening and glowing complexion when used frequently. There are now also over-night patches with dissolvable micro-needles on the market. This one as well can be seen as a complimentary treatment to apply moisture into a slightly deeper skin layer but is no genuine substitute for a well performed clinical skin needling treatment.


Summary to skin micro-needling


An effective and generally safe way to achieve: skin cell renewal, stimulation of collagen and elastin production, resulting in smoothening of fine lines, plumping of skin tissue, reduction and softening of scar tissue as well as reduction of hyperpigmentation and flares of inflammatory skin conditions.

A very rewarding and cost effective base line skin care treatment with little down time and ongoing benefits if maintained over time.


Hope you feel good in your skin!