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Author: Dr Anoma Ranaweera, United Kingdom, 2012. Updates: Dr Ebtisam Elghblawi, Dermatologist, Libya; A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, New Zealand. Oct 2018. Dr Ian Coulson, Dermatologist, United Kingdom. June 2022.
Skin needling is also called micro-needling therapy or collagen induction therapy. It is a minimally-invasive non-surgical and nonablative procedure for facial rejuvenation that involves the use of a micro-needling device to create a controlled skin injury.
There are various skin needling devices including Dermaroller® (Dermaroller GmbH); Dermapen™ (Equipmed Pty Ltd; Australia) Derma-Stamps™ (Dermaroller USA) and radial discs incorporating fine microneedles of various diameter and length, fabricated from a wide range of materials such as silicon, glass, metals, and polymers. The needles are up to 3 mm in length but typically 0.5 mm length is used to minimise bleeding and enable rapid recovery.
As each fine needle punctures the skin, it creates a channel or micro-wound. The microchannels created spontaneously close after 10 minutes so that epidermal barrier integrity remains intact.
The needles injure superficial dermal collagen strands and small blood vessels triggering a controlled cascade of inflammation including the release of platelet-derived growth factors transforming growth factor-alpha and beta (TGF β-3), connective tissue activating protein, connective tissue growth factor, and fibroblast growth factor. These lead to the production of new collagen, elastin, and capillaries.
Neovascularisation and neocollagenesis lead to thickened skin and a reduction of scars, with improved skin texture, firmness, and hydration.
Skin needling is effectively used for:
Microneedle technology also offers a minimally invasive and painless route of transdermal drug administration such as vaccines. This technology is currently being investigated by several research groups and companies. To enhance transdermal drug transport, microneedles can be inserted into the skin to increase its permeability, after which the drug is applied (poke with patch). Drugs could also be coated onto the microneedles and then inserted into the skin (coat and poke).
Hollow microneedles are also used to inject drug solutions into the skin (mesotherapy).
Skin needling's benefits are listed below.
The procedure is well tolerated. It takes a few minutes up to an hour to complete, depending on the area to be treated and the severity of the problem.
The number of needling procedures depends on the individual skin condition. Three to four treatments may be needed for moderate acne scars. Scars from Thermal burns and stretch marks (striae) may require up to five procedures.
Specially designed home skin needling models with short fine needles (0.2 mm depth) may be used 2–3 times per week to:
Generally, the treated areas recover rapidly from skin needling. However, there are occasional side effects, which include:
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