Microneedling – Do You Really Need a Qualified Doctor? Is Microneedling at Home Just as Safe and Effective?

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Microneedling is a popular and effective way to rejuvenate skin.  Every month, thousands of people search for information on microneedling in Inland Empire, where I practice.  If you’re thinking about having this done to improve acne scars, wrinkles, rosacea or stretch marks you’ll want to read this article.  This inexpensive, minimally invasive treatment can help improve all of these skin problems.  Some will tell you that you don’t really need a specialist like a facial plastic surgeon, plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist for effective microneedling.  You can purchase a roller and do it yourself at home.  Is that a good idea?  Please consider some facts.

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Before & After microneedling using the Skinpen. Compliments of Elizabeth Steigner

Microneedling:  Generally Safe and Effective

Studies and real-life results demonstrate that microneedling can improve a number of skin conditions.  Wrinkles, stretch marks, acne scars and other scars all respond to this minimally invasive method.  Microneedling can also effectively rejuvenate dull or aging skin.  It is a considerably better option for darker complexions, often avoiding the discoloration caused by other methods.

Microneedling, when done correctly, pierces the skin at a 90 degree angle.  The needles penetrate deeply enough to cause minor injury to lower skin layers.  This spurs the skin into repair mode.  It can stimulate production of both collagen (which anchors skin) and elastin (which helps skin stay firm and elastic).  Studies have found a 400% increase in collagen and elastin 6 months after treatment.  Interestingly, collagen fibers form in the matrix pattern seen in healthy skin rather than the parallel pattern found in scar tissue.

Microneedling can provide good results after 4-5 treatments.  For some conditions, it can allow genuine improvement without the downtime and discomfort of ablative lasers.  However, it is important to note that these good outcomes have been primarily seen in doctor’s offices or medical spas closely supervised by qualified physicians.

Can you save money with DIY microneedling at home?

microneedling at home, microneedling rollerThere is no question that microneedling rollers designed for home use cost less than microneedling performed by medical specialists.  However, this is one more example of the adage:  “You get what you pay for.”  Microneedles used by physicians are considerably longer than those generally offered for home use.  Getting the length right matters.  Needles that are too short cannot achieve the same results as professional-length needles.  Needles that are too long can injure the skin.

In its article, “The FDA May Soon Regulate At-Home Microneedling on the Skin,” Allure Magazine quoted Dr. Patricia Wexler, a New York City dermatologist featured in New York Magazine‘s “Best Doctors” issues.  Dr. Wexler said about this procedure:

Home devices do not give the same degree of sterility, or uniformity of application.  The at-home user may also not be aware of contraindications, such as herpes infection, an acne breakout, a psoriasis flare, a rosacea flare, an open wound, and active skin cancer, or recent chemotherapy.

Keloids (raised scars) can also be a contraindication, which is why Dr. Wexler stresses that any wound has the potential to create a scar.  Dr. Shari Marchbein a practicing dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine also warns:  

Additionally, if an inappropriate technique is used, or if the needles are not sharp enough, there is a risk of causing superficial tears to the skin.

Since any wound can create a scar, and at-home microneedling rollers can cause wounds, does it make sense to save a little money to make your skin look better in a way that risks making it look worse?  Read on.      CONTACT Dr. Machida Inland Empire, CA 

The Right Microneedling Technique by a Qualified Doctor Avoids Infections and Allergic Reactions

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Skinpen microneedling performed by Cathy Resnick, LE

Microneedling is generally quite safe, so safe that some may feel there’s no risk of an infection from needles that small.  Unfortunately, there is.  Health magazine recounted an incident where people were infected with HIV after microneedling with Vampire Facials, which work patients’ own processed blood into their skin.  The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reported:

NMDOH is investigating two cases of HIV infection among VIP Spa clients who received injection-related procedures at the VIP Spa between May and September 2018.

How could two microneedling patients having procedures that utilized their own blood get HIV infections?  Both tested positive for the same HIV sub-type, indicating that they received it from the same source.  This raises suspicion that the spa ignored manufacturers’ warnings and tried to clean and reuse microneedles.  But there’s no reliable way to sterilize them.  It appears likely that trace amounts of one patient’s blood were left on the microneedling device, and then injected into the next patient’s skin.  It’s no wonder that the New Mexico Department of Health warned:

Any persons desiring cosmetic services involving needle injections should verify the services are being provided by a licensed medical provider.

JAMA Dermatology reported on three patients who developed prominent, long-lasting facial rashes after a vitamin C preparation was spread on their faces before microneedling.  Untreated areas had no rash.  Two of the three patients eventually responded to weeks of treatments.  At the time of publishing the third still had her rash

Clearly, if you want microneedling that’s both safe and effective, it’s important to choose the right physician.  You definitely don’t want to do this at home.

Safer and Effective Microneedling in Inland Empire

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Microneedling using the FDA-approved Skinpen. Compliments of Cathy Resnick, LE

At STC Plastic Surgery in Inland Empire, California, we regularly perform microneedling to help patients improve their skin in a variety of ways.  We use new microneedles for each patient.  We never reuse them.

In addition, we avert allergic reactions like the ones described above by avoiding spreading preparations on patients’ faces to be injected by the FDA-approved Skinpen device we use.  We don’t offer Vampire Facials, so there’s no risk of HIV.  I believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If regular microneedling isn’t enough to help an individual patient improve acne, wrinkles, loose skin, stretch marks or scarring, we also offer laser treatments and Renuvion.  One of these modalities will be right for you.

CONTACT Dr. Machida Inland Empire, CA

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About Dr. Brian Machida, MD, FACS

Dr. Brian K. Machida, MD, FACS is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon. He has an exceptional level of experience, having performed ( read more )

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