Microneedling for Acne Scars: Does It Really Work?

Microneedling for Acne Scars: Does It Really Work?

The effects of acne can last much longer than the actual blemishes themselves.

Unfortunately, once your breakout has faded, you may still be left with the scars that the blemishes can leave behind. 

Dealing with those scars can impact your self-esteem, but there are ways to be proactive and minimize the longterm effects! One of the best treatments to help manage acne scars is microneedling.

If you haven’t heard of it before, or if you’re just wondering how microneedling for acne scars works, Skin Pharm has everything you need to know.

What is microneedling?

To start, what exactly is microneedling?

While there are tools on the market that claim to produce effective results over the counter, true microneedling can only be done by a trained provider.

Why? This is because microneedling uses tiny needles to create hundreds of controlled wounds on the skin. With an open wound comes the potential for infection, so having someone perform the treatment in a more sterile environment can minimize those risks. 

Those wounds are what make the results so compelling, though. Under normal circumstances, like when you’ve injured yourself, collagen is a significant part of scar formation. 

When anything negatively impacts the skin, the body kicks its collagen production into overdrive. The same is true for microneedling, because the body interprets it in the same way. That’s why microneedling is also known as collagen induction therapy. 

That’s how microneedling can produce results, including benefits like:

  • A reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Firmer, more youthful-looking skin
  • Improvement in the appearance of stretch marks and scars
  • A decrease in the visibility of sun damage
  • Fewer breakouts

Microneedling is effective for a wide variety of different skin concerns. Among those are alopecia, atrophic scars, actinic keratosis and hyperpigmentation.

The different types of acne scars

Different types of acne can lead to different kinds of acne scars. Being able to recognize them can help you to decide which treatment option is right for you. Acne scars are divided into two categories, atrophic acne scars and hypertrophic acne scars. 

ATROPHIC ACNE SCARS

Atrophic scars are the types of scars that create depressions in the skin. There are three types – boxcar, icepick and rolling. Each has unique qualities that can help you identify which of the three you may be dealing with. They are usually the same color as your flesh, but they can also be hyperpigmented (darker) or pinker as well.

Boxcar scars, for instance, are generally oval or round in shape and tend to be wide without any narrowing as they extend into the skin. They make up approximately 20 - 30% of all atrophic scars. 

Icepick scars are similar to boxcar scars but are usually more narrow at the opening. They extend directly down into the skin, narrowing at the point like their icepick namesake. Icepick scars are the most common type of atrophic scar, at around 60 - 70%.

And finally, rolling scars. While these are the least common type of atrophic acne scar, they are also the largest. In fact, some rolling scars can be as big as a pencil eraser. They are called “rolling” scars because they resemble rolling hills, with both mountains and valleys. 

HYPERTROPHIC ACNE SCARS

On the other hand, hypertrophic scars rise from the skin instead of sinking into it. The scars result from a healing process that has continued out of control instead of stopping when the wound is filled in. Typically hypertrophic acne scars are pink in color and firm to the touch.

The most common type of hypertrophic acne scar is a keloid and one of the more unsightly. Keloids can be darker in color, often red or purple, and extend outside the boundaries of the actual acne scar.

How effective is microneedling?

The effectiveness of microneedling comes down to making sure that you’re using it on the “right” type of acne scars. As mentioned, there are multiple categories of scars that can develop due to acne. Microneedling is effective only on atrophic (or depressed) scars, which result from too little collagen instead of too much. 

The good news is that there have been plenty of studies following the effectiveness of microneedling for acne scars, even over the long term.

Scars of all varieties, not just acne scars, improved at least 50% with multiple microneedling treatments. That makes it one of the best options available for treating scars without undergoing more major cosmetic surgery. 

It’s important to note that the actual effectiveness of microneedling for acne scars is most noticeable after multiple treatments. While a single session of microneedling can help with more minor concerns, it will likely take at least a few sessions before the scars start to fade. 

How does microneedling work?

One of the most common questions that we get asked about microneedling is how it works. The idea of creating minor wounds to induce additional collagen production is proven and effective, but it can be intimidating for people who haven’t tried it before. That can be especially true for people who have a phobia of needles.

To help dispel some of the fear surrounding the process, we wanted to help you better understand exactly how a microneedling treatment goes at Skin Pharm.

First of all, most microneedling appointments take just about an hour from start to finish. Your appointment will start with your provider thoroughly cleansing your skin before applying a topical numbing agent. 

That way, you get to experience all of the benefits of microneedling for acne scars (or other concerns) without any of the discomfort. Most people describe the feeling as being similar to a combination of a vacuum cleaner and a razor blade. Others only experience a little bit of pressure during the procedure. 

After your skin is numb, your provider will apply a serum to your skin. This serum is packed with antioxidants and hydrating ingredients. When microneedling is performed, the needles take that serum with them as they puncture the skin. That means you’re getting all of that benefit far deeper inside the skin than you would with topical application. 

Then it’s time for the actual microneedling. A unique microneedling tool is used to apply those tiny needles to the surface of the skin. The needle depth is customized by your provider to help you reach your goals. That depth can be anywhere from 0.1 to 2.5mm. 

During and directly after your treatment, you may notice bleeding. That is the normal result of the wounds created on your skin and will stop after the procedure has been completed. It is no reason for concern and is how this treatment earned its common nickname, the “vampire facial.” 

What about PRP?

Some people choose to augment their microneedling treatments by adding PRP, or platelet-rich plasma

PRP comes from your blood, which is drawn in the office by your provider. It’s then put in a centrifuge, leaving behind the golden platelets, an essential part of the body’s healing abilities. We refer to it as “liquid gold,” as it is both gold in color and incredibly beneficial for your skin. 

PRP can be applied topically before having microneedling performed or even injected directly into the skin (which is helpful for those more extensive, deeper acne scars). It’s effective for anti-aging concerns, scarring and even brightening up the under-eye area. 

What is the healing process like?

Immediately after your microneedling treatment, you may notice some swelling, redness or irritation. This is temporary and shouldn’t last more than a day or two. You’ll be sent home with a specific skincare kit with more gentle products meant to help support your skin’s healing process. 

The following day, you may notice some tightening of the skin. There may also be peeling, scaling, or dryness as your skin begins to heal. Luckily, the wounds caused by microneedling heal very quickly and aren’t likely to scab. 

It should be safe to return to using makeup after about 24 hours, but you should avoid using brightening agents and retinol until your skin is fully healed. However, if you’re noticing a lot of peeling or flaking, it’s ok to use a gentle exfoliant to help clear away that dead skin. After all, your new, radiant skin is just underneath. 

Results can usually be seen one to two weeks after treatment, although multiple treatments are likely necessary. 

To wrap things up...

Microneedling for acne scars is an effective but minimally invasive way to help improve and soften their appearance. However, this treatment is only for atrophic acne scars or those scars that are depressed into the skin. 

If you’re ready to schedule your treatment, give one of our Skin Pharm offices a call today. We’re happy to help you reveal your best, most beautiful skin yet.  

SOURCES:

Microneedling: A Comprehensive Review | PubMed (nih.gov)

Review of applications of microneedling in dermatology | PubMed (nih.gov) 

Microneedling of Scars: A Large Prospective Study with Long-Term Follow-Up | PubMed (nih.gov)


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