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Micro Needling (DermaRolling): Effective or Dangerous?

Micro Needling (DermaRolling)_ Effective or Dangerous_

The beauty market is exploding with In-Office and Home used DermaPens, Micro Needling Devices and more. Are they safe? Do they work? Should you buy/try them? Read on to find out.

What is Micro Needling or DermaRolling Or SkinPen?


As we all seek the holy grail of beauty concepts this type of product/service has erupted filled with new acne scar reduction and skin tightening promises. One fact that medical science proved some time ago is that ablated (pierced, punctured or scraped) skin makes collagen. It is the reason Microdermabrasion works well on the skin, it’s also how Fractional Lasers work to create collagen and break up acne scars. So it stands to reason that a device that poked tiny (or not so tiny) holes in the skin would do the same. Hence the creation of DermaRollers. These medieval looking devices emerged originally as an In-Office procedure done primarily by doctors. The skin was numbed by the physician and thoroughly rolled with the device. Then products were applied and the client was sent out the door red and sometimes swollen. With a few days of recovery the patients skin would begin to make collagen and weeks later they would emerge looking much younger (in theory). I worked in an office where this procedure was regularly done by a doctor and I have to say, I was never that impressed with the results considering the cost and the down time involved. I believe that’s why the procedure silently disappeared about 8-10 years ago.

microneedling skin chart


So if the cost and downtime of these bigger procedures had some attraction and supposed benefits, what if they dialed down the depth of the needles? This is the way that Micro Needling (DermaRolling) evolved. By lessening the depth of the needles this procedure could be done by estheticians and nurses, or as it evolved even further, by the own client at home. So if this safer, less bloody version could be done in new hands would it be better accepted? The answer by the market is “yes” as folks scramble to get this done and buy their own medieval devices for home use, but the questions remain: does it work and is it safe?

Does Micro Needling Work?

micropenI definitely try to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology. So with the buzz on the market (primarily by the plethora of sales reps coming to our door with them) I decided to test out this new, amazing procedure. I asked 3 of my regular clients, one with acne scars, one with wrinkling/tightness issues, and one with large pores to come in and with the help of a medical expert I tested the newest, best loved and safest version on the market. I must be honest, NONE of the clients nor I were at all impressed with the results. We used the strongest/deepest but still safe puncture depth. There was irritation and even some bleeding in the patients. But days and weeks later not one of the 3 thought it was worth the $300 it would cost to have this procedure done. One of them even felt that they got more results with the last Microdermabrasion that I did on her for half the cost. I grasp that this is a small sample but it was filled with clients I trust and so that’s good enough for me. There is a mixture of reviews out about these devices both good and bad, but it’s my personal opinion that it’s a service that’s not worth the cost, or the risk.

If you have thought about using at home devices to get the service without the expense, let me be clear, the needle size in these devices are so small and ineffective that they also are not worth the money. Not to mention that it still hurts like crazy! You must realize that they couldn’t put a truly effective device in the hands of just about anyone because the risk of folks damaging themselves and suing the company are WAY to high! So save your precious money and don’t purchase these devices either.

Is Micro Needling/DermaRolling Safe?

To me, the scariest thought regarding this procedure is the risk. Especially when it comes to sanitation. For the record, the devices are not even FDA approved, read here to learn more.

In-Office Devices

Microneedling cross contaminationThe devices used for In-Office use have small, replaceable sanitized heads that you change between clients. The problem is that the majority of these devices still have cross-contamination risks (see here) of blood moving into the device and then contaminating the entire machine completely. Many offices (especially those not good about doing research) have these cheaper, yet filthy devices that will not be uncontaminated after even it’s first use. They cannot even Autoclave (use a machine to sanitize) out the bacteria and blood in it. It’s a pretty horrifying thought to think that in your procedure you are sharing fluids, even blood with everyone who’s ever had this procedure done in that office.

At-Home Devices

micro needling at home

So perhaps you feel better about using a single device on yourself at home. How could you possibly keep it truly clean? The only way you could keep your home device clean is to sanitize it immediately prior to use and to make sure that you did that EVERY SINGLE TIME you used it. Honestly, I have enough clients who won’t even take the time to wash their faces every day that I find it hard to believe folks would do a great job of truly sanitizing their At-Home micro needling or rolling devices. And the thought of folks rolling bacteria and whatever else into their faces for the questionable sake of beauty is pretty awful to me.

A Micro Needling Sanitation Horror Story

Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl who just wanted to make herself slightly more beautiful and she had a doctor do DermaRolling on her. Unfortunately in this story it’s very likely that the device was not as clean as it should have been and the beautiful girl ended up with a horrifying infection all over her face. This infection created horrendous pigmentation issues and more on the beautiful girl’s skin. After working with a doctor to clear the infection, she came to me for help. While we did manage to reverse the very serious damage done to her skin by micro needling, it took nearly a year to completely remove it (and lots of $$) and quite frankly her skin has not been the same since. She is insanely sensitive to products and has to constantly watch what is put on it and who works on it, which is only a problem because she has since moved out of state. It is this story that has confirmed that this is not a procedure I plan to ever have in my office.

Needless to say that I am not a great fan of this procedure. It is expensive regardless if you have it done In-Office or At-Home. It has a high risk of contamination issues and bigger than that, at the end of the day it doesn’t even work that well. For more information on the subject, please read on with more experts and make your own decision.

There is amazing technology using lasers for MicroNeedling, if you’d like to learn more about them check out my previous blog, How New Technology Is Improving Medical Spa Services…

Jennifer Warmann-Bloss








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