Recently there has been a lot of talk about dermarolling (microneedling), some say it is the best cosmetic breakthrough yet and others say you have to be mad to try it! It involves moving a roller filled with hundreds of tiny needles over the face and although it sounds awful, it’s said to have a whole load of benefits!

The Claims

This bizarre technique is claimed to help cosmetics penetrate the skin so they can get where they are meant to be in order to do their job. Apparently poking holes in your skin will also stimulate the skin to repair itself which involves producing collagen, elastin and generating new cells. All this is said to get rid of scars, wrinkles, stretch marks and the visible signs of ageing including wrinkles! After all this, tired skin should once again look plump, smoother and brighter!

Is there anything a dermaroller can’t do? We found out if it really works…

A Bit of Background

It turns out this new cosmetic wonder has actually stood the test of time and it has been under development since 1995. It was originally investigated to deliver drugs over the skin as an alternative to taking orally/injecting. As the main job of our skin is to keep things out, getting drugs across this powerful barrier can be difficult. Adding tiny holes to skin allows drugs to temporarily pass though the barrier and into the circulation. Now these advancements in pharmacology are being used and applied to our beauty regimes.

Dermarolling has been used to reduce the harsh appearance of scars in replacement of older techniques that are more invasive and damaging to the epidermis (the top layer of the skin).

From this we have moved on to generally improving the appearance of the skin on the face using dermarolling, in particular for anti-ageing procedures.

Science behind it?

Dermarolling is also called percutaneous collagen induction (PCI) as the basis of it is that it produces more collagen.

Lets start with the repair of scars. The minute controlled injuries i.e. hundreds of tiny needles being put into the skin, are claimed to rejuvenate and improve scars by triggering the natural inflammatory and wound repair cascade. The needles break the existing collagen strands which will then be replaced with new collagen and elastin, improving the appearance of the scars.

The needles can differ a lot depending on the required effect and derma rollers used for skin appearance (e.g anti-ageing) generally have much smaller needles than those used for scarring, however the same principle applies for collagen production. In ageing, our collagen and elastin matrix breaks down and this appears on our skin as the well known signs of ageing (more about ageing here). In theory, replacing this collagen with new collagen will also help the appearance of aged skin.

The theory in more depth (for the super geeky amongst you!)

The natural healing process initiated by dermarolling of the skin has 3 phases. Phase 1 is inflammatory and happens fairly quickly after treatment and cells move to the site of damage. In phase 2, a range of growth factors arrive and cause keratinocytes (skin cells) to make a start on the repair of the skin and collagen is deposited. Phase 3 is the remodelling phase and takes months or up to a whole year to be complete. It involves replacing the temporary collagen III with stronger collagen I and this conversion causes tightening of the skin. As well as this, studies have shown that there is more elastin too and wrinkles appear more filled! However, this theory is not fact and as popularity of this technique drives more research, it will be interesting if this theory holds.

Does it work?

A number of studies have looked into this for skin appearance, scar repair and drug delivery and the results seem convincing. Some studies show that dermarolling may actually work better than more established techniques for acne scarring and those looking at its anti-ageing effects have looked at several markers and have shown positive effects that would make skin look younger.

There are a whole range of different needle types and sizes, each for individual treatments, so be sure to get the right one! Another thing to consider is that although not all, but many studies were done alongside other topical treatments, for example vitamins to ‘prepare’ the skin and for optimal results this seems to be the most effective method.

Does it hurt?

Immediately after treatment there can be a small amount of blood depending on the needle size and there is likely to be some redness and swelling. However, the treatment is meant to be painless with minimal irritation and should have a quick recovery time if done properly.

Is it safe?

Dermarolling is less invasive than many similar methods of acne scar treatment and the epidermis remains intact, which is really important as it helps to lower the risks involved. This means there are less negative side effects than some other methods. Dermarolling also doesn’t have a long recovery time, as after the treatment the skin barrier should repair itself after just a few hours. However, the long-term effects of derma rolling haven’t really been explored yet.

Can I do it at home?

Dermaroller devices designed for at home use are available but in general, have smaller needles than many used professionally. If you’ve never tried dermarolling at all, our advice would be to see a dermatologist before you do. Professionals will know exactly what needle type, the motion and pressure needed. They will also recommend how much/often to use it in order to get the best results without overdoing it. Also, dermarolling isn’t advised for a number of conditions (e.g active acne, psoriasis etc.), which highlights the importance of seeking professional advice. Another potential issue with dermarolling at home is irritation caused by product applied following dermarolling.

Keep your eyes peeled for our next article on dermarolling where we delve deeper into the different devices including home-use devices compared to those used in the salon!

Our final verdict 

Dermarolling has certainly got the science behind it to get the geeks excited and booking in for a session! At home dermarolling is where things get a bit sketchy but we’ve decided to do another article on that alone. Keep your eyes peeled for more info Beauty Geeks!

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