Microneedling has become very popular over the past few years, and with good reason. It is an effective treatment for scars, fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and stretch marks with little to no downtime or discomfort. It is a great alternative to some laser treatments during the summer as well, since there is no photosensitivity associated with it. With all the good press, and Before & After success stories, it is no surprise that in today’s world, home versions of Dermarollers, micropens and microstamps seem to be popping up everywhere from Facebook ads to Amazon. So, the question is: what is better, the at-home version or the in-clinic procedure?
The answer depends on what you are trying to achieve. While DIY, or home-bought devices can provide some minimal improvements, professional microneedling will provide much more notable results. Here are some reasons why:
- Professional devices are simply better devices. The quality of the needles and the depth of the needle (1-3mm) penetration will create a more controlled wound to the skin, which results in better healing and more collagen production. While home devices can help with exfoliation and perhaps a mild improvement to the texture, they don’t treat deep enough to penetrate the dermis, which is where the collagen is formed. Home devices won’t do much at all for scarring.
- Technique – without a doubt, you are not as educated as your medical esthetician when it comes to how to treat with a microneedling machine. They have been trained by the company that provides the machine… you haven’t! Watching a You Tube video does not equate to experience!!!
- Time – the home devices are usually 0.2mm-0.5mm in depth, which requires 2-3 treatments per week for mild results, which again, is fine for exfoliation and allowing your home products to penetrate better. In clinic procedures will vary from once a month to twice a year ONLY.
- Infection/injury-due to inexpensive needles, not washing properly and using bad technique, bacteria can get lodged into the dermis. Professional treatments have the benefit of sterilization and sanitized tools. Each needle tip comes sterilized and opened for that one application and then disposed of. We are also experienced in all skin types and colours.
- Finally, Before & After topicals are applied to prevent infection and to increase the production of collagen, reduce inflammation and speed up healing. In clinic products will always be medical-grade quality, unlike many home care products that can hinder proper healing and collagen production.
It should be noted too that not all home care devices are created equal. While some clinics have a home version of their professional brand, which will have a similar quality of needles, but shorter depth for safe application at home, other companies are not so careful. Purchasing a $6.99 micro roller or pen on Amazon is just asking for trouble. The quality of needles will dull during the application leaving larger and smaller holes in the skin. This inconsistency will also lead to inconsistency with results, and may add to a chance of infection and scarring where the needles have dulled. Hole size does matter! Depth of penetration matters as well. It is important to treat your skin kindly and not to take chances on products not approved by the FDA or Health Canada.
In conclusion, there are some benefits of professional grade home versions of microneedling when your medical esthetician has taken you through how to use the device properly. No, it will not get rid of scars, but it may help your home care to do a better job and it may mildly result in smoother skin. But when it comes to buying cheap, unapproved devices of any kind just remember this: This is the only face you are ever going to have. Treat it, but always treat it well.
~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre