Life Health

Micro-needling: The hottest skin treatment you've never heard of

By Gerald Imber, Postmedia Network

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Micro-needling is the hottest skin treatment that you never heard of. In the last several years, this odd-sounding, at-home treatment has morphed into an effective professional treatment used to reverse wrinkles, acne scars, discoloration and skin laxity.

The process involves making multiple, superficial wounds in the skin. These wounds seal in minutes and stimulate the growth of new collagen, the main building block of healthy, youthful skin. Each of these multiple wounds is like a pinprick, and vary from 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm deep. Some redness might persist, but overall healing occurs within 24 hours.

A number of over-the-counter, micro-needling rollers are available. The devices are rolled over the skin and the needles create mini-wounds in their path. So many patients reported reduction in wrinkles and overall improvement in skin appearance that the medical world took note.

Soon medical instrument companies began producing a variant of the roller, which automatically stamped sterile micro-wounds, and pen-like devices that did the same. The objective was to produce controlled depth wounds under sterile, repeatable conditions. Initially, the procedure was successfully used to treat acne scars and superficial wrinkles, but skin tone improved and dark spots and blemishes were reduced.

As the procedure gained traction, a number of skin nutrient additives were painted on the skin before and after needling, including vitamin C and vitamin E. The biggest leap forward was the addition of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to the regimen. PRP is the naturally occurring blood substance containing growth factors which promotes cell growth and tissue repair. PRP injections have been used for many years to treat injuries, and have become a mainstay of sports medicine.

Micro-needling with PRP is performed by physicians, or nurses and trained estheticians under medical supervision. A syringe of blood is drawn from the patient and treated to separate the platelet rich plasma from the rest of the blood. This fraction of concentrated growth factors is painted onto the skin before micro-needling to help introduce the growth factors into the skin, maximizing collagen growth and tissue repair.

Positive results are usually visible in two weeks. The process is usually repeated three times for maximal results. I have found it good for overall skin tone and appearance, and particularly effective for stubborn areas like lines in the upper lip and around the mouth.

The overall best results are achieved by micro-needling with PRP, but even the inexpensive drugstore rollers help. The difficulty is keeping those devices sterile, and for that one should consult the manufacturer's instruction.

 

Gerald Imber M.D. is an internationally known plastic surgeon and anti-aging authority. Learn more atYouthCorridorClinic.com. Email your skin-care questions to Dr. Imber at info@youthcorridorclinic.com