Interested in Microneedling? Here’s Everything to Know Before You Book an Appointment

written by LAUREN HARANO
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson

One of the best things about modern-day skincare is the wide range of options beauty buffs have when it comes to finding the right treatments, procedures, and products for their skincare concerns. From countless serums at Sephora to a myriad of tools at Ulta, there’s bound to be something to suit every blemish and insecurity. 

And if you’re struggling with fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and acne scars (because, same!), there’s one treatment that just might solve all your skincare problems once and for all: microneedling. While the name might sound a bit intimidating due to the word ‘needle,’ this minimally invasive treatment is highly effective, pain-free, and fast. Wondering how it works, if it hurts, and what exactly it does? Ahead, we’ve ~pin-pointed~ everything you need to know about microneedling with advice and expertise straight from dermatologists.

Lori Aliksanian, M.D.

Dr. Lori Aliksanian is the founder of MedBeautyLA. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and earned her MD at Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica, W.I.

Michelle McMahan

Michelle McMahan has been a medical esthetician for over 25 years, and a certified medical laser professional for over 10 years. Her education started in Washington D.C. and has been licensed in the state of Florida since 1997.

What Is Microneedling?

We’ll get right to the point: Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that involves using a device with fine needles to create tiny punctures, or micro-injuries, in the skin’s surface. These micro-injuries stimulate the body’s natural wound-healing process, triggering the production of collagen and elastin, which are powerhouse proteins that maintain the skin’s overall structure and elasticity.

How Does Microneedling Work?

“There are several different forms of microneedling,” explains Dr. Lori Aliksanian, founder of MedBeautyLA, “but the safest and most effective method entails a trained provider treating your skin with an FDA-approved motorized microneedling device.” These devices are shaped like big pens and have stainless steel micro-needles that are safe for the skin. (The needle depth can vary depending on the goal of treatment—whether to treat discoloration, acne, or scarring—but it typically ranges from 0.25 to 2.0 millimeters.) “Once turned on, the device ‘stamps’ the skin in precise, repetitive motions as your provider glides it across the treatment sites,” says Dr. Aliksanian.

What Do I Need to Know Before Microneedling?

Microneedling is fantastic for a number of skin concerns, but it is especially excellent for clients with uneven skin texture, acne scarring, stretch marks, and fine lines,” explains Dr. Aliksanian. “However, it is also beneficial for clients who simply want to improve skin tone and brightness or for those interested in non-invasive anti-aging options.” Because the device creates micro-injuries, the body works to repair those injuries with the production of collagen and elastin. As the skin heals, it becomes firmer, smoother, and more even in texture. Plus, it heals old scars and makes skin more plump and radiant. Yes, please.

Source: Getty Images

How Long Does It Take to Heal From Microneedling?

Directly after a microneedling procedure, the skin will be red and maybe even a bit irritated, but this usually goes away in a few hours. To calm it down, patients can apply a thin layer of gentle, non-comedogenic moisturizer. Aside from toning down the redness, this will also help support the healing process and maintain skin barrier function.

What Is the Downside of Microneedling?

Perhaps the most-asked question about microneedling is if the procedure is painful. Stamping the skin doesn’t exactly sound pain-free, but believe it or not, it is! That’s because the skin is numbed with a topical cream for about 30 minutes before the procedure, meaning it’s completely numb by the time the microneedling starts. During the treatment, some people might feel a mild sensation similar to light scratching or tingling, but typically, patients can’t feel a thing.

How Do You Maximize Microneedling Results?

Once the provider is done with the microneedling treatment (the duration of a microneedling procedure can vary but it generally takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour), it’s crucial to maintain proper aftercare. In addition to moisturizer, it’s important to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect the skin from UV damage. On top of that, patients should avoid using harsh skincare products like exfoliants or retinoids for a few days after their session. And, if possible, they should try not to wear makeup for at least 24 to 48 hours after a treatment. Luckily, however, after a few sessions, patients will notice that their skin is glowing from the inside out!

Is Microneedling Safe To Do at Home?

Perhaps one of the most controversial topics around microneedling is if it’s safe to do at home. While there are a handful of at-home microneedling devices on the market, it’s not recommended to microneedle your skin at home. According to Michelle McMahan, medical aesthetician at Palm Beach Facial Plastic Surgery, “Most portable microneedling treatments are at a 45-degree angle, which can rip and tear the skin.” Due to this, it’s best to visit a professional for microneedling treatments as opposed to doing at-home treatments, as they can cause more harm than good to the skin.

How Often Should You Get Microneedling Done?

“If you’re just starting out, you should always start with a series of three treatments once a month for three months,” says McMahan. “After that, you can transition to a single treatment every three to six months to maintain your results.” Additionally, using PRP (or platelet-rich plasma, which is a portion of your blood that contains growth factors) with microneedling can expedite the time you see results. Vampire facials for the win!