What is microneedling?

Microneedling is also called a needle facial, skin needling or collagen induction therapy. This nonsurgical cosmetic procedure improves your complexion by stimulating the body’s natural healing process. The practitioner uses a pen-like device to steadily move micro-fine needles in paths across the skin. The microscopic pinpricks trigger your skin’s natural healing process and boost the production of skin-supporting collagen and elastin. As a result, microneedling can smooth lines, diminish skin flaws and provide a healthy glow with little discomfort or downtime.

At The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, our board certified plastic surgeons offer microneedling and other cosmetic procedures. Plastic surgeons at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center can also answer your questions about other nonsurgical facial and skin rejuvenation choices. If you’re interested, your doctor can also share information about the medical-grade skin care products and therapies offered at Ohio State’s spa Services.

Microneedling benefits

Over time, your skin can show lines, wrinkles, spots, scars and other blemishes that concealers and cosmetics won’t fix to your satisfaction . Microneedling is a quick, minimally invasive way to refresh skin.

Microneedling smooths lines and wrinkles, lightens blemishes and blotches, and evens out irregular skin tone. It’s not acupuncture — it’s a cosmetic treatment. The pen-like device used in microneedling has short, fine needles. When your doctor guides it across treated paths of skin, the needles create tiny, microscopic wounds that are typically invisible without a magnifying glass. In some instances, you may see small red dots, which usually go away quickly. These micro-wounds stimulate your body’s healing process, which helps refresh the skin.

Doctors use microneedling to treat:

  • Acne scars and pitting
  • Diminished elasticity
  • Discoloration
  • Fine lines
  • Papery skin
  • Spider veins
  • Uneven texture
  • Wrinkles

What to expect during microneedling 

How to prepare for microneedling

When you consult with an Ohio State plastic surgeon, you’ll have a chance to ask questions and learn more about the procedure. Your doctor will evaluate your skin and discuss whether microneedling is the right treatment for your cosmetic and skincare goals.

Other preparation steps may include:

  • Avoiding certain medications as directed
  • Avoiding wine or other alcoholic beverages
  • Limiting the use of other topical treatments as directed
  • Refraining from using facial cleansers with salicylic acid

Your practitioner will evaluate your overall health and your skin’s condition. Be prepared to discuss your health history, including any past procedures and other lifestyle habits that affect your health, such as smoking.

During your microneedling procedure

Microneedling treatments can be done in your Ohio State plastic surgeon’s office. After you arrive, our staff will take you to a treatment room where you’ll lie down for the microneedling therapy. Then, we will cleanse and prepare your skin for the procedure. This may include a topical numbing gel or other soothing skin treatment.

During microneedling, the practitioner moves the handheld device to create narrow, parallel paths across the surface of your face or other treatment areas. You may also receive additional topical treatments to reach deeper layers of skin. The process encourages hydration, promotes healing and enhances your skin’s appearance. With a topical numbing gel, you should feel little or no discomfort, depending on your skin’s sensitivity and your tolerances. Some people report a gentle pressure or a mild poking, tickling or sandpaper sensation.

Our doctors can finish most microneedling sessions within 30 minutes. However, if you have larger areas of skin to treat, it can take up to 45 minutes, depending on your skin’s condition.

After microneedling

After your treatment, we clean the treated areas again. We may also provide you an ice pack or cold compress to soothe your skin.

Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure that typically has minor side effects with little or no downtime. You may notice mild, tiny red spots and bruising in the treated areas. Any redness typically goes away within a day. It’s possible to see some flaking, and you might notice a slight burning sensation or a feeling of tightness.

Your doctor can recommend a quality mineral makeup to wear the next day, which will help conceal any redness. Most people return to their regular activities right away or within 24 hours.

Depending on your skin’s condition and your cosmetic goals, it usually takes a series of four to six microneedling sessions, spaced about a week apart, for ideal results. Your Ohio State plastic surgeon can advise you on the number of treatments and other nonsurgical skin rejuvenation procedures that can address specific areas of concern.

Results of microneedling

After microneedling treatment, you should see a gradual improvement in your skin over the next two weeks or so. Most people notice a smoother texture and firmer skin tone. Minor flaws, spots and blemishes will also be less visible.

Your Ohio State plastic surgeon can suggest a good sunscreen to protect your new-and-improved complexion. Together, you can discuss quality skin care products and therapies, including services available through Ohio State’s spa services.

Risks of microneedling

Potential side effects of microneedling vary depending on your medical history and skin type tone, texture and thickness. Your Ohio State plastic surgeon will explain the risks of microneedling relative to your condition and treatment plan.

Microneedling might not be right for you if:

You’re pregnant, you smoke, or if you have diabetes or other autoimmune conditions such as lupus. Tell your doctor if you have ever taken acne medications such as Accutane. Certain acne medications make the skin thin and fragile — especially if taken within the past six months. This can interfere with your skin’s healing process.

Other conditions that prevent the use of microneedling include:

  • Abnormal scarring tendencies
  • Active or inflamed acne
  • Eczema or dermatitis
  • Infection
  • Injured or irritated skin
  • Rosacea
  • Sensitive skin
  • Sunburn
  • Very dark skin

Possible complications of microneedling include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Discoloration
  • Infection
  • Redness
  • Results not as expected
  • Scarring

Tell your doctor about any past or recent skin conditions or procedures such as thermal lasers or peels, as they may affect your experience, risks and results.

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