Micro-needling, also called percutaneous collagen induction therapy, is performed using a handheld, drum- or pen-shaped device, electrically powered, with tiny needles that make precise, microscopic punctures in the skin. These “micro-injuries” do not leave scars; they work by helping to stimulate the skin to repair itself naturally through a process called dermal remodeling.
This process starts with inflammation, which stimulates the skin to produce new collagen (the elastic fibers that make skin tight, smooth, and youthful). Collagen levels in the skin decline as we age, and new collagen can be produced when the skin is in repair mode.
Three to five monthly or biweekly treatments are recommended to achieve desired results. Through a series of sessions, micro-needling can increase elastic skin fibers. Micro-needling also helps the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin), which naturally thins with age, become thicker and tauter.
Micro-needling is used to treat a variety of skin conditions that cause depressions in the skin such as acne scarring, surgical scars, other scars, burns, enlarged pores, wrinkles, and stretch marks.
Micro-needling does not deliver heat to the skin like lasers do. As a result, people who have melasma (dark patches of skin) and hyperpigmentation (dark spots on the skin) can undergo microneedling without the risk of worsening pigmentation problems. (Darker skin is susceptible to pigmentation changes as a post-inflammatory response.)
Micro-needling is sometimes used to help topical skin treatments to penetrate the skin more effectively. For example, micro-needling is sometimes performed before application of minoxidil, used to treat common hair loss (androgenic alopecia, which affects both men and women).