Etching Youth Into Skin At Needle Point — Medical Skin Needling

I tried the needle pricks and I loved it! — And now you get to hear more about it.

The idea to roll back the years with a procedure that’s all pins & needles (literally) sounds agonizing, but let me assure you with my first hand experience —it only sounds painful but in reality it doesn’t feel so bad at all. In aesthetic circles the buzz around derma-rollers and skin-needling devices has been gaining momentum for quiet some time now, season being simple and straight forward — priced at a fraction of the expensive lasers and filler treatment’s cost, skin needling or per cutaneous collagen induction (PCI) delivers results, which are quantitative yet subtle.

The ScienceBehind Rejuvenation by A Thousand Needles

The skin-needling concept is well accepted in the medical circles and not at all new. The concept was put on aesthetic map back in 1996, when a South African plastic surgeon Des Fernandes, MD, began to explore the idea of increasing collagen production by inducing bleeding in the skin via hundreds of tiny pricks. Using devices with needles 1 – 3 millimeters long, physicians since have been piercing the dermis to generate collagen and elastin, while leaving the epidermal layer relatively intact. It has been noted that while PCI stimulates fibroblasts to make collagen and elastin, it also releases growth factors, which promote rejuvenation and remodeling of skin. Fractional lasers work on pretty much the same principal, but while using needles only and no heat — risks and rewards are contained.

Derma needling is currently being used to help plump up the skin to improve acne scars, fine lines, wrinkles, cellulite and stretchmarks. Used alone at different skin depths or combined with complimentary topical skin stimulating and rejuvenating agents the procedure utilizes controlled injury triggers making our own body to fill these micro-wounds by producing new collagen and elastin, in addition, new capillaries are also formed. This neovascularisation and neocollagenesis, following the treatment, leads not only to reduction of scars, but also skin rejuvenation, improved skin texture, firmness and hydration.


All Needles Are Not Created Equal

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A derma-roller is a simple, hand-held instrument consisting of a handle with a cylinder studded all around with fine, stainless steel needles 0.5–3 mm in length. This needle-studded cylinder is rolled on the skin in multiple directions to achieve a therapeutic benefit.

A roller with wide gauge, short length needles that are under 0.25mm in length is generally non-invasive and does not cause trauma to the skin, but rather it stimulates and provides gentle exfoliation while increasing superficial circulation. This action, much like manual massage and other electrical modalities, may enhance the penetration and absorption of active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin. Therefore, additional age fighting skin benefits can be achieved when skin needling is combined with products that contain collagen boosting and skin fortifying ingredients like Retinol, Vitamin C and Peptides.

Needles 0.5–1.0mm are available at select pharmacies and physician’s offices for home rejuvenation. At this point I’d like to remind everyone interested in home rejuvenation practice, please be very cautious and always make sure you are following instructions to the dot and practicing under perfect aseptic sterile conditions. While piercing the skin the risks of infections and side effects are very real.

The longer, thinner needles around 1.52.0mm in length are more invasive; the potential for breaking the skin, drawing fluids, causing injury and subsequent risk of infection is also much higher. Extreme caution must be used, as this depth is considered highly invasive and high risk. It is also beyond a skin therapist’s legal scope of practice or home use device. Therefore, this procedure should be best conducted under medical supervision as adverse reactions and post procedure complications can occur. When the barrier of the skin is compromised to this degree, bacterial skin infections, adverse skin reactions, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and premature aging (due to inflammatory mediators being drawn to the area) can result. Products that are calming and anti-inflammatory should be used to soothe any inflammation post needling, and for pre-care the most important aspect is that the skin is thoroughly clean to prevent any possibly risk of infection.


High Tech & Professional Skin Needling

As benefits of skin needling have gained notoriety more work and research has gone into updating and improving the procedure and now we have state of the art automated micro-needling devices in the market for in office use. The newer devices are pen-like instruments with handle, disposable needles and guides (to adjust needle length). The needle tip can have 9–12 needles arranged in rows. The device works at different modes of speed and controlled depth.

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The treatment begins by the application of local anesthetic cream to the treated area for one hour. Local anesthetic injections are then administered to numb the treated areas. After these local anesthetic injections are given, there is no sensation from the actual skin needling. It is also possible to use inhaled anesthetic gas or light IV sedation in conjunction to help reduce any discomfort.

The skin-needling device is applied to the skin multiple times to induce thousands of microscopic injuries to the skin.

After skin needling, topical retinoids or other medical grade skin care is applied to the skin to further enhance the effects of skin needling and collagen production. A dressing is then applied to the skin, as there can be some weeping of the skin post skin needling, which is removed after 24 hours.

If you are looking for a procedure that promises to soften facial wrinkles, minimize pores, fade scars, and leaves you with brighter, tighter, and younger skin at a modest price, almost no discomfort and no downtime, look no further — let tiny prickly needle points lead you to the promised realm of youth and beauty.

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Shazia Ali
A certified dermatologist, Skincare guru to the who's who of the Middle East, Dr. Shazia knows the secrets of anti-aging, the insider tips and tricks on how to achieve healthy, beautiful radiant skin and everything in between. Currently the brand Ambasador for University of Westminster, and the head Dermatologist at Tababa Clinics.

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