On pins and needles; What are the biggest differences between at home “dermal-rolling” and in-office micro-needling treatments?

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One of the biggest advancements we’ve seen in the treatment of aging skin in last few years has been the development of better “Micro-needling” devices.  Micro-needling or Collagen Induction Therapy is a great way to introduce high quality skin care serums and anti-aging products directly into the skin with minimal risk or down-time”Dr. Hayley DeGraaff, M.D.

Micro-needling took the aesthetic world by storm a few years ago!  Micro-needling had actually been around for years, but there were significant advances made in the quality and intensity of the devices recently.  These procedures has been so popular so fast die to the relative low cost, high patient satisfaction and low risk associated with the treatments.  Invariably, at-home devices will be marketed to consumers/patients once something becomes this popular claiming to offer the same results at a much lower cost and done in the comfort of your own home.  But do the home devises work or offer any benefit?  Are they safe?  Dr. DeGraaff explains the major differences:

1.  At home dermal-rolling is not a medical device.  It is a non-sterile roller that has sharp tips or pins  (but not actually needle)s that very superficially prick the very top layers of the epidermis.  To truly get penetration into the layers BELOW the upper epidermis, a device needs to penetrate to at least 1 mm or more.  Medical micro-needling devices penetrate from 1-3mm in depth far surpassing the at home dermal rollers.  Plus, the depth of penetration of dermal rollers is very dependent on the pain tolerance of the person doing the treatment. The harder you press, the deeper the pins penetrate.   Let’s face it, how hard can you really press down before the pain would cause you to let up on the pressure?

Medical micro-needling devices actually have twelve 32 gauge needles in the hand-piece that are replaces with each treatment.  Unlike the at home devices that can dull overtime, a fresh set of needles is used.  Also, we use a very potent numbing cream 30 minutes before the procedure to make the treatment almost painless.  This allows us to treat a depths that would be too painful if done at home.

Lastly, the medical micro-needling can for more than just basic skin rejuvenation.  It can also be used on acne scarring, stretch marks, sagging skin on the neck and on the hands and on the scalp to help with hair restoration.

2. One of the main reasons to do micro-needling is to open up microscopic holes in the skin to allow topical products to penetrate deeper.  Obviously, the type of products that an office can use are of higher quality, stronger and more refined than the type of products used at home.  We use a liquid form of the ingredient found in the gel wrinkle fillers called hyaluronic acid.   This is applied to the skin while the microscopic holes are still open to allow the product to penetrate the skin.   In addition we can also apply PRP (platelet rich plasma)  to the skin after micro-needling.   PRP is derived from your bloods plasma and contains growth factors that help stimulate new collagen formation.  This procedure is called The Vampire Facial and was discussed in a previous blog.

Micro-needling is a safe and affordable way to rejuvenate aging skin and should be done in a medical environment by a trained medical professional.  The at home dermal-rollers might be a way to help maintain the results you get after treatment but it can not compete with the medical grade treatment.