Is skin needling the key to youthful skin?

Rolling hundreds of prickly needles into your skin may not sound appealing, but it could be your secret to smoother skin (and it’s painless, honest!).

Fans of skin needling – also known as microneedling – swear it can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and some scarring.

And that has been backed up by research, including a review that suggests the procedure is a “safe and therapeutic option for the treatment of scars and wrinkles”.

So what is skin needling, and should you try it?

Skin needling explained

“Skin needling is a procedure performed by a trained therapist, which can also be called microneedling, CIT (collagen induction therapy) and a ‘vampire facial’, which is the most popular term,” says dermal therapist Claudia Ristevski.

Experts say microneedling devices contain a number of tiny needles that move up and down rapidly, lightly penetrating the skin at various depths.

“The procedure creates a wound response in the skin,” says cosmetic physician Dr Parvin Khinda.

“This stimulates collagen and elastin production, improving the appearance of the skin, softening fine lines and wrinkles in addition to reducing the appearance of scarring,” Dr Khinda says.

Who is skin needling suitable for?

As microneedling is used to fight the signs of ageing, it tends to appeal to people with more mature skin – but it’s effective for all ages.

“It works well on both younger and mature skin,” Dr Khinda says. “Collagen production starts to decrease by 1 per cent every year from the age of 20.”

Claudia recommends skin needling to clients looking to promote cell renewal and collagen production.

“To maintain youthful skin, clients can start treatments in their early 20s to prevent signs of ageing. I would also recommend this treatment to clients who suffer from acne scarring, hyperpigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles,” she says.

Are there are any risks of skin needling?

“Potential risk factors include bruising, infection, scarring and hyperpigmentation,” Dr Khinda says.

“I would advise against needling if the skin hasn’t been prepped with the appropriate skin care regimen prior and if there are active skin infections or dermatitis/inflammation.”

To prep the skin, Dr Khinda recommends using a skin serum containing vitamins A or C, which she says can also help increase the benefits of the treatment. 

How long does it take to recover from skin needling?

“Recovery time depends on the intensity of the microneedling and the skin health of the client,” Dr Khinda says.

Claudia advises three days of “down time” to allow for the natural healing process.

“The client may feel a warm or hot face immediately post treatment and then red and slightly swollen for the next couple of days,” she says.

“The skin will then go through a shedding period where it will feel very dry and may even peel.”

How long does it take to see results of skin needling?

“You will see improvement in the fullness of the skin after the first session, however for skin concerns like acne scarring, results are dependent on the severity of the scarring and may take four to six treatments before a significant improvement is noted,” says Dr Khinda.

Claudia says skin needling can achieve a mixture of short and long-term benefits.

“(Post-treatment) there is an improvement in the skin’s overall brightness, tone and texture,” she says.

“Additionally, the procedure typically improves pigmentation, ageing, scarring and even a bit of redness. To achieve optimal results, I would recommend a series of treatments.”

Can you do skin needling at home?

Microneedling sessions with a professional skin therapist will likely bring more intense, effective results, but derma rollers can also deliver results.

“The difference between a derma roller and a professional skin needling device is that a derma roller is usually an at home skin tool,” Claudia explains.

“A derma roller has a wheel of needles that are rolled onto the skin, but there is quite a bit of controversy in relation to at-home use. Some clinicians believe a procedure like this should only be performed in a clinic as it requires a sterile environment.”

Dr Khinda believes derma rollers can be as effective as professional microneedling, “but they should be done with appropriate guidance by your skin specialist to avoid complications and improve effectiveness”.

Written by Charlotte Brundrett.