Microneedling vs. Dermarolling: What’s The Difference?
If the COVID-19 pandemic has meant you are spending more time tending to your own complexion (without the help of a professional) than ever before, you’re not alone. In this four-part series, The AEDITION is teaming up with Lizette Ludwig, RN, to compare some of the most popular minimally invasive in-office aesthetic treatments (microneedling, chemical peels, LED light therapy, and microcurrent) to their at-home counterparts.Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APakPVBeSdU
Whether your introduction to it was Kim Kardashian’s infamous vampire facial or a treatment of your own, professional microneedling is gaining popularity in aesthetic procedure space thanks to its wide array of skin-boosting benefits for both the face and body. For those looking to mimic the effects at home, less invasive dermaroller devices can provide similar benefits. Here, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about in-office microneedling and at-home dermarolling.
What Is Microneedling?
Also known as collagen induction therapy, microneedling involves the use of many small needles to puncture the skin, creating micro-injuries that stimulate the body's natural healing process (including collagen and elastin production). “There are so many amazing benefits when it comes to a professional microneedling treatment,” says Lizette Ludwig, RN, an aesthetic nurse and injector in southern California. “It’s one of my favorite treatments for all skin types.”
As she explains, microneedling improves skin quality and can reduce the appearance of:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Acne scars
- Skin discoloration
- Sun damage
But it doesn’t just treat facial concerns. “Microneedling can be used on the body as well,” Ludwig shares. “It’s considered a treatment of choice when it comes to treating stretch marks.” She has seen the benefits of microneedling as a stretch mark therapy in her own practice, and the treatment can also minimize the appearance of scars.
Professional Microneedling Treatments
Generally speaking, an in-office microneedling treatment will take about an hour. A standard session includes:
- Apply a topical numbing cream for 30 minutes
- Cleanse treatment area
- Use medical-grade microneedling pen with tiny sterilized needles to create microscopic channels in the skin and trigger the body’s healing response
- Treatment generally takes 20 minutes
- Soothe skin by applying a healing serum post-treatment
Microneedling can be done alone or paired with nourishing extras like platelet-rich plasma (PRP), stem cells, and even radiofrequency. Additional steps (like drawing the patient’s blood to create the PRP solution) may be needed for such variations.
Microneedling Recovery & Results
While the treatment protocol will depend on your skin concerns, Ludwig usually recommends a series of four to six sessions spaced one month apart. Microneedling is generally considered a safe and effective treatment option, but there are still risks. “The primary concern is skin post-treatment irritation,” she explains. “Mild side effects include, redness, swelling, dryness, and flaking of skin.” On average, such sensitivities will last 24 to 48 hours.
Professional Microneedling vs. At-Home Dermarolling
If paying a visit to your aesthetic provider isn’t possible right now or you are looking for a way to achieve similar benefits at home, dermarolling may be a good option for you. “The biggest difference between an in-office microneedling treatment and an at-home dermarolling treatment is the depth of the needles,” Ludwig shares.
The needle depth of a professional treatment is anywhere from 0.25 millimeters to 2.5 millimeters, which, she says, “allows for a more controlled penetration of the needles depending on the area or condition being treated.” For example, acne scars, stretch marks, and deep wrinkles all call for a deeper needle depth in order to be effective. An at-home dermarolling needle depth, meanwhile, is a static 0.3 millimeters. As such, “it is a good option for treating the surface of the skin,” Ludwig notes.
At-Home Dermarolling Treatments
In order to ensure the most safe and effective at-home treatment, it’s important to follow the instructions that come with the device. Ludwig also recommends the following:
- Do Your Research: “Make sure you buy from a trusted site or store,” she says. Our picks? The Julep Slowpoke Microneedle Roller and BeautyBio GloPRO Microneedling Facial Regeneration Tool.
- Do Your Homework: Once you’ve picked a device, be sure you understand how to use it by talking to your provider or watching a tutorial.
- Wash Your Face First: Just like professional microneedling, “make sure your face is clean before your treatment,” Ludwig shares.
- Avoid Harsh Topicals: She suggests swapping alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, retinols, and even vitamin C for a gentle hyaluronic acid serum post-treatment.
Like microneedling, dermarolling is not recommended for those with open wounds or a skin infection in the treatment area.
Dermarolling Recovery & Results
Dermarolling can be done safely at a very shallow depth when the device is properly sterilized. “The tool should be cleansed after each use,” Ludwig says. She recommends preparing soapy water in a container and allowing the dermaroller to sit in it immediately after treatment. From there, she advises disinfecting it by letting it soak in alcohol for 10 minutes. “Allow it to dry and store in the case,” she adds.
With regular, long-term use (in accordance with the instructions), dermarolling can improve skin tone, texture, and mild scarring.
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