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Micro-needling made simple

              Micro-needling made simple

Micro-needling

Micro-needling isn’t exactly new, but innovation in the arena has made it an especially hot topic today. The slightly scary-sounding, yet highly effective treatment is rapidly becoming a go-to for the reduction of acne scars, as well as for plumping fine lines, creating fresher skin with a rejuvenated glow.

However, as with all aesthetic procedures, it’s vital to be clued up before making a booking (or indeed, wielding an at-home tool). Here, the experts reveal everything you really need to know about micro-needling, from the benefits to the in-clinic options, and the professional verdict on DIY devices.

What is micro-needling, and what are the benefits?

Micro-needling

“Microneedling is a procedure that uses tiny needles placed in a face roller or automated pen to puncture the very first layer of skin,” explains international facialist Adeela Crown. “The skin is a natural barrier, designed to keep things out, which is why only a small percentage of active ingredients ever penetrate the dermis. Microneedling helps create tiny entry points: doorways that stay open only for a short time post-treatment before the skin begins to close them down with new skin cells.”

So far, so satisfying – but it's the longer-term benefits of micro-needling that are the real draw. “By creating these microscopic ‘micro-channels in the skin, the dermis is forced to switch to its ‘defense mode’, pushing the wound-healing response into overdrive, which results in greater elastin and collagen growth. The kick-started cellular renewal is not a quick fix as it involves the growth of new layers of skin: rather, it gradually reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and elevates the overall texture.

Is there any pain or downtime?

“Though at first sight, a derma roller may resemble a torture instrument, it’s actually not so terrifying in reality,” says Crown. A numbing cream is generally applied before use, meaning there’s no pain involved, although the downtime can range from hours to a handful of days.

What skin types should try it, and which should not?

“Microneedling is my go-to when I want to (proverbially) grab my client’s skin by its shoulders and give it a good shake to wake up the skin’s cellular engine,” says Crown. Really, it’s a brilliant treatment for myriad skin types and concerns, whether you want to plump fine lines and wrinkles or induce a deeply hydrated glow before a big event.

But perhaps most exciting is micro-needlings potential to fade hyperpigmentation and even textured acne scars. “By triggering the skin’s natural healing mechanism, the generation of new skin cells and collagen synthesis leads to repair of visible acne scars, improvement of pigmentation, reversing sun damage, reduced appearance of wrinkles and enhanced skin texture.”

Indeed, the potential is promising, with a recent study reporting significant clinical improvement in notoriously hard to fade atrophic acne scars after a course of regular, yet minimally invasive sessions.

But although micro-needling is widely considered a safe treatment – whether performed at home or by a professional – and has a long list of skin-transforming benefits, it’s not a catch-all cure for all skin issues and types.

Micro-needling made simple

“Microneedling works brilliantly to repair old acne scarring and scar tissue, but it’s not advisable to use it on open wounds or active acne due to risk of infection and inflammation,” says Crown. “It's best to clear up acne first by following guidelines set by your aesthetician or dermatologist (usually with topical products like BHAs, benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, Isotretinoin or Roaccutane), depending on the causes and severity of the acne.”

What’s more, those suffering from inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis should also avoid micro-needling “Caused by an abnormal skin barrier, these conditions affect the skin’s ability to protect and renew itself, so micro-needling may lead to severe irritation,” adds Crown, who also highlights that anyone who has chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or a course of anticoagulants should sit this one out.

Microneedling at home: it is a wise idea?

Microneedling is, of course, an invasive skin procedure, meaning it shouldn’t be tried without proper consideration beforehand. While at-home needling devices have come a long way recently, there are still some risks to consider.

As facialist Sarah Chapman explains, these concerns are heightened when a needling device is placed in untrained hands. “With stainless-steel needles, there is a risk that you might use the device for too long and overstimulate the skin, she says. “There is also a small chance when using traditional devices, of transferring bacteria to the skin by not cleaning the device thoroughly between treatments.”

Microneedling facials: where to book

Crown herself is known for her high-tech approach to treatments, often mixing and matching advanced machinery with her own, much-revered lifting massage technique. Available for bookings at The Dorchester, her No Derma Drama treatment involves automatic needling as well as LED light therapy, ultrasound, topical growth factors, and even a highly innovative freeze-dried collagen infusion to ensure maximum results immediately and over the following weeks.

Another A-list-approved booking, Pfeffer Sal’s Ultra Synergy treatment combines precision needling with personalized nutrient-rich serum delivery, and top-grade Dermalux LED light therapy.

Additionally, Sarah Chapman’s eponymous Skinesis Clinic is well-known for its skin-boosting needling treatments, of which there are several to choose from. For something even more advanced, opt for the facialist’s brand-new Medical department, where consultant dermatologist Dr. Alexis Granite is delivering truly transformative treatments.

As Crown adds, at-home micro-needling may simply not be effective enough to treat particularly severe skin issues. “Wand-shaped derma rollers for home use are designed for quicker recovery time, and so have a considerably shorter needle length (usually between 0.20mm and 1.0mm) than clinical derma pen," she explains. “Collagen fibers are found in the dermis, the layer below the superficial epidermis, which sits 1.5mm to 2mm below the skin’s surface. This is why the only micro-needling carried out by a trained aesthetician at 1.5mm+ depth will truly ever work deeply enough to solve skin issues such as acne scarring, scar tissue repair, pigmentation, and melasma, as well as tackling deep-set wrinkles and expression lines.”

How to microneedle at home

TECHNIQUE

Home devices usually start with 0.2mm – 0.5mm depth needles for client safety, however, it’s vital to use only gentle pressure. It’s still possible to inflict injury, bleeding, bruising, or even infection if you are over-zealous or too aggressive, especially when trying to erase a particular blemish or line.

DISINFECT

You should disinfect the tool before and after use or, if using one with a detachable or single-use head, it’s important to dispose of it after use. Don't rinse in the hope to reuse it, as it will lead to serious skin infections and scarring.

PRODUCT SELECTION

Due to the increased skin penetration rate, post-micro needling is an ideal time to feed the skin with one to two layers of serums containing hyaluronic acid, peptides, collagen, stem cells, and growth factors. Avoid active ingredients like retinol and high-concentration vitamin C at least a week before and after the treatment. As cellular-resurfacers, these ingredients can cause sensitivity, and using them in tandem with micro-needling is a recipe for irritation with increased vulnerability to sun damage.

Post-micro-needling treatments

An LED light therapy mask is the perfect accompaniment to a micro-needling treatment, thanks to its calming and healing benefits. “LED therapy has long been used in professional treatments to maximize results through deeply penetrating red light for healing and rejuvenation,” says Crown. “LED activates the fibroblast growth factor activity which is the skin cell’s engine, thus leading to increased ATP (cellular energy) and blood flow.”


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