Michael Valdes, M.D., P.C.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Powder Mill Plaza, Route 10 East, Morris Plains, NJ  07950    973.984.2121    fax 973.984.2199

 

Microneedling (Collagen Induction Therapy) FAQ’s



What is Microneedling?

Microneedling is a decades old procedure for treating fine lines, scars, stretch marks, skin laxity, and pigmentation disorders. Most often, an area such as the face, neck or hands is be treated in its entirety. But, since the treatment is much less traumatic than with lasers, treatments don’t have to treat large sections of the face, (so-called aesthetic units.) Smaller problem areas, such as scars, can be treated alone. 

Although microneedling has been around for generations, advances in technology have made it more gentle and versatile. The new technology uses a sterile, single patient use, cartridge of fine surgical needles. This needle cartridge is attached to a pen shaped device that contains an electric motor. More importantly, there are controls that allow precise adjustment of the needle penetration depth and speed. As the machine glides over the surface of the area being treated, the needles penetrate the anesthetized skin, triggering the release of healing chemical mediators and softening scar tissue.  The needles also create temporary channels through the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) which allows “direct” delivery of active healing products through this epidermal barrier. Consequently, when combined with topical Vitamin C and Vitamin A (such as Tri-retinol or Retin-A) a series of treatments can provide results similar to a fraxel laser without the downtime of laser treatments.

How does Microneedling work?

Conceptually, the technique is similar to fraxel laser treatments in the sense that it causes microtrauma to the upper layer of the dermis (the second layer of the skin) which ultimately leads to the creation of both collagen and elastin. Both lasers and microneedling stimulate collagen production by triggering the healing cascade with the release of chemical mediators such as transforming growth factors. Importantly, the collagen produced after microneedling is normal “basket weave” collagen instead of the linear scar collagen created by lasers. Also, unlike laser treatments, the normal dermal papillae and the epidermal basement membrane are preserved. Since the skin structure is preserved, treatments can be repeated as needed over time without the buildup of the unwanted skin changes or scar tissue that frequently follow laser treatments.


What is different and special about Microneedling?

Unlike laser treatments, microneedling leaves the epidermis intact so there is much less inflammation which translates into much less “down time,” faster healing and a much lower risk of side effects. Additionally, the microneedles break up existing scar tissue and foster its replacement with normal collagen making it a preferred technique for improving acne, traumatic and surgical scars. There is some swelling and redness after a treatment but this generally resolves in a few hours. 


How is a Microneedling treatment performed?

A numbing cream is applied to the skin. Once it has taken effect, the treatment is begun. In the traditional form, a light microdermabraion is performed followed by microneedling. Patients report that the two procedures feel similar and are not particularly uncomfortable, at least with the numbing cream. For an area such as the face, the microneedling portion of the treatment takes about 15 minutes. After the microneedling portion is completed, Vitamins C and Retinol are applied to take advantage of the enhanced penetration through the temporary channels that have been opened through the epidermis. “Quick Start” microneedling doesn’t need the microdermabrasion step and additional “boosters” such as Retinol or TNS are optional.


What is the difference between “Quick Start” and “Regular” Microneedling?

“Quick Start” microneedling omits the microdermabrasion step and the needles are not set to penetrate as deeply. a faster interval rate is used to create more channels. With this technique, the series of six treatments is done in a five week period which allows for the treated area to stay “flooded” with the released intrinsic growth factors. There’s less redness and swelling after each treatment and additional topical boosters are optional.


How do I know which form of Microneedling is best for me?

Both treatments can be used for treating fine lines, scars, stretch marks, skin laxity, and pigmentation disorders.  The “regular” technique is the best choice for acne scars and for more mature skin with fixed deep wrinkles. The “quick” version of microneedling is particularly good for uneven skin tone and fine to moderate lines or wrinkles. It is also a good choice to treat early sun damage as a "preventative" to help keep the skin healthy. With the “quick” version of microneedling here's less redness and swelling after each treatment, and the series of 6 treatments is be completed in five weeks making scheduling your appointments easier. If desired, you can also add topical “boosters” at the end of the session to enhance the effects of the treatment.


How soon can I return to work after Microneedling?

There is some mild swelling and redness after a microneedling treatment that usually lasts for several hours. An hour after your treatment, all the channels have closed and you can apply makeup to hide the redness.


How many Microneedling treatments are needed?

A single treatment will provide improvement. However, for skin rejuvenation for the manifestations of aging and sun damage, a series of 3 to 4 treatments at intervals of 4 to 6 weeks is recommended. For repairing scars (such as acne scars or injury scars,) stretch marks and for skin tightening, a series of 5 to 8 treatments at 4 to 6 week intervals is recommended.And, since each treatment builds on the previous one,  a synergy is created that continues collagen deposition for approximately 6 months after the last treatment.


How long do the results of Microneedling treatments last?

The results are permanent but microneedling doesn’t “cure” the underlying condition caused by the damage done by aging, sun, hormones, and environmental toxins (smoking, pollution, etc.) The microneedling treatment “removes” the visible manifestations caused by the underlying condition. That means that, over time, these visible manifestations of the underlying condition will be recreated as the aging process continues. How fast they reappear depends on how bad the original condition/damage is and how well you take care of your skin. To maintain maximal results, “touch up" treatments might not be needed for a year, but more likely at 4 to 6 months for most people with significant damage. (Unlike the laser, you can repeat microneedling as often as you want without building up scar tissue.) 

However, when scars and stretch marks are treated the results generally are permanent and long lasting. Once scars are softened and "blended in" we expect them to stay that way as long as the skin isn't re-injured. 


©Michael Valdes, MD, PC