Did you know that 80% of people between 11 and 30 years old will have acne? That’s not all, though, as 20% of these people go on to develop acne scars.
Yes, acne scarring is one of the most common skin concerns. Aside from its undesirable physical appearance, acne scars also take a toll on your emotional well-being and self-esteem.
But the good news is, you don’t have to put up with these unwanted blemishes forever. Thanks to microneedling for acne scars, you can look forward to a more even skin texture that will make you wonder if these scars even existed before.
What Is Microneedling?
Microneedling is a minimally invasive skin resurfacing treatment. It creates small micro-injuries in the top layer of your skin, i.e., the epidermis. Doing so stimulates collagen production, a key building block responsible for skin elasticity, smoothness, suppleness, and vitality.
In other words, microneedling — when done right — improves skin concerns, like acne scarring, to revitalize your overall complexion.
Both professional and at-home microneedling use a derma roller with extremely tiny needles, say 0.25-3 millimeters. This drum-shaped device gently rolls over the skin to puncture the outer skin layer.
Compared to other invasive cosmetic treatments, such as chemical peels and laser therapy, microneedling has little to no downtime. As such, it’s a much-favored technique for noticeable skin improvements.
What Causes Acne Scars?
Before we talk about microneedling for acne scars, we first have to understand how acne scars form.
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that manifests as angry, red bumps. Depending on its severity, it’s categorized into:
- Mild acne
- Moderate acne
- Severe acne
Once the pimple has popped or subsided, it leaves behind a wound which your skin tries its best to heal. In cases of moderate to severe acne, your skin’s wound-healing abilities are often impaired. Your skin may produce too little or too much collagen in the affected areas, leading to different types of scarring.
Insufficient collagen levels lead to inadequate tissue regeneration, which creates depressed scars called atrophic acne scars. On the other hand, excess collagen content gives rise to raised scars known as hypertrophic acne scars.
According to a 2017 study in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 80-90% of acne scarring are atrophic in nature while hypertrophic scars are less common.
The same study also went on to detail three different types of atrophic acne scars:
- Icepick scars are narrow and V-shaped, and usually account for 60-70% of atrophic scars.
- Boxcar scars are wider and round- to oval-shaped. They make up 20-30% of atrophic scars.
- Rolling scars are the widest with an undulating wave appearance. They comprise 15-25% of atrophic scars.
Microneedling For Acne Scars — Does It Really Work?
So, does microneedling for acne scars really work? Yes, but only for atrophic acne scars.
The reason being, microneedling encourages your skin cells to produce collagen, which helps fill up acne indentations for a more even texture.
Still, it’s worth noting that microneedling’s effectiveness may vary depending on the severity, duration, and type of scarring. For example, microneedling may be a champ at improving icepick and boxcar scars. But, its efficacy pales a little when it comes to rolling scars.
How Does Microneedling For Acne Scars Work?
Before you dismiss microneedling for acne scars as an urban skincare myth, we’d like to share what science has to say on the topic.
Based on a 2015 study published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, microneedling produces small, localized wounds which:
Breaks down collagen bundles in the inner skin layer that are responsible for your uneven skin texture.
Stimulates collagen production in the outer skin layer to fill in the indentations.
This two-pronged approach — collagen breakdown and replenishment — effectively corrects scarring and promotes new tissue regeneration. Expect noticeable improvement in your acne scars with regular microneedling sessions.
Secret Tip: Pair Microneedling With PRP for Better Results
As if the eye-opening benefits of microneedling for acne scars aren’t enough, there’s a proverbial cherry on top: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) — when paired with microneedling — supercharges the overall improvements in acne scarring.
PRP is sourced through a medical procedure. Some blood is drawn from your arm and processed to create a plasma rich in your blood platelets. The platelet-rich plasma is then injected back into your skin and/or applied topically.
So, why should you combine PRP with microneedling for acne scars?
A 2016 study featured in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology analyzed the effects of microneedling alone versus microneedling with PRP. 50 patients with atrophic acne scars had microneedling done on the right half of their faces and microneedling with PRP on their left halves.
The results showed that, in terms of acne scarring improvements, the right halves performed significantly better (62.2%) than the left halves (45.8%). If you’re now convinced, speak with your dermatologist or aesthetician to decide if you should try PRP with microneedling in your next session.
Do note that microneedling with PRP comes at a hefty price. Still, their efficacy is rooted in science, so it may be a worthwhile investment if you desire a smoother complexion.
Are There Any Side Effects of Microneedling For Acne Scars?
Due to microneedling’s need for minimal downtime, it’s a relatively safe procedure to help you reach your #skingoals.
Then again, you may experience minor side effects such as:
- Skin irritation
- Dryness and/or skin flaking
These side effects are common and usually subside within a few days. Be sure to check with your dermatologist if they don’t.
After your treatment, prioritize sun protection — apply sunscreen and avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. Also, skip harsh, alcohol-based facial products, which can worsen skin irritation.
Can I Use Microneedling for Active Acne?
While microneedling is safe for most people, you should avoid it if you have:
- Active acne breakouts
- Active skin infections
Microneedling is also not recommended if you’re pregnant. Consult your primary doctor or dermatologist before embarking on this cosmetic treatment.
How Long Does It Take To See Results?
You should start seeing some results about 6 weeks after your microneedling session.
With that said, most people need at least three sessions (every month) to see visible results. After all, collagen regeneration doesn’t happen overnight — the full process may take several months to a year.
In fact, The Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery detailed “a significant increase in collagen deposition” six months after microneedling, with a 40% increase in skin thickening at the one-year mark.
Given that all good things take time, just know that your skin texture will continually improve over time.
A More Even, Glowing Complexion Is Just Within Reach
If you’ve ever wondered whether microneedling for acne scars actually works, you now have your answer — it’s the key to unlocking the even, glowing complexion you’ve always dreamt of having.
With microneedling, your days of agonizing over unsightly acne scars or feeling like you have to cover them up with foundation are over. The simple act of using a derma roller to gently prick the top skin layer and spur collagen production helps smooth out textural irregularities.
Of course, to reap the full benefits of microneedling, check if you’re suitable for the treatment. Discuss it with a skilled dermatologist or aesthetician, so you know your skin will be in good hands.
You’d also want to be prepared for any potential side effects and take extra care afterward. Most importantly, practice patience and consistency as the best version of your face is awaiting you at the end of your microneedling journey