Between Botox and vampire facials, the skincare world isn't short of outside-the-box treatments that promise younger-looking skin. But while the prospect of injecting your face with a neurotoxic protein or your own blood may sound unappealing, another, less invasive treatment is gaining popularity among beauty insiders.
"Microneedling, or collagen induction therapy, is a quick and easy procedure that helps minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, moderate scars, and enlarged pores," explains Craig Austin, MD, of the popular skincare brand Cane + Austin and the Cane + Austin MediSpa on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
But what exactly is micro-needling? How does it work? And what can you expect? We tapped the dermatologist to find out precisely what to expect during the treatment (and, of course, after). As it turns out, this procedure guarantees much more than younger-looking skin. It can promote hair regrowth in (when combined with PRP therapy), and it's also a scar treatment procedure.
If you're on a quest for smaller pores and smoother skin, you'll want to learn everything there is to know about micro-needling.
What Is Micro-Needling?
Micro-needling is a procedure in which tiny needles are used to lightly puncture the skin. This process boosts collagen and elastin production, which rejuvenates and improves skin texture.
"After 30 years old, we lose approximately 1% of our collagen per year," explains Austin."Whether you are undergoing micro-needling using a DermaPen (made by Eclipse) or the state-of-the-art Legend by Lumenis, you are essentially being poked with needles all over your face or body. These needles help reduce skin texture issues by promoting the growth of collagen and elastin."
The theory behind micro-needling is that the needles work to break down existing collagen and elastin cells, and your body promotes collagen and elastin to grow back stronger and better. "Collagen and elastin are responsible for keeping your skin firm and elastic. The procedure helps slow down this decay, therefore promoting healthier and more youthful skin," he adds.
What to Expect During a Treatment
"The treatment takes around 20 to 40 minutes," says Austin. "Unfortunately, the benefits are not noticeable immediately." The cell recovery process—the regrowth of collagen and elastin—takes time, so expect to notice improvement of your skin texture over a three- to four-month period following the treatment. "Typically, my patients receive micro-needling treatments in a series—typically, three micro-needling treatments over a four-month period. The benefits of multiple treatments are cumulative, so you will see the biggest improvement this way."
While the dermatologist says that there is minimal downtime with this procedure, he warns to expect to appear flush for a few hours following the treatment. In other words, this is not a treatment to get a few hours before your Mexico vacation. Otherwise, you can definitely return to work the next day.
"In some cases, patients will notice little marks (or scabs) from the needles a few days later—just use a solid exfoliate and those will go away. The scabs are a good thing!" says Austin.
How Do You Get Maximum Results?
"There are a few products we recommend in conjunction with micro-needling," says Austin. "After the treatment, we typically ask patients to use SkinCeuticals' epidermal repair. This product helps promote the cell recovery process and is a great moisturizer. We also either recommend SkinCeuticals H.A. intensifier or Isdin Flavo C capsule."
He explains that H.A. intensifier is great for hydrating and plumping of your skin after the treatment. Isdin Flavo C is a product that promotes your body to produce more naturally occurring hyaluronic acid. "Both products have a similar effect and are great products even if you don't get micro-needling," he says.
Austin also recommends pairing micro-needling treatments with either Fraxel or chemical peels. "Fraxel is a more aggressive collagen induction treatment while chemical peels help improve skin texture and tone issues by exfoliating your skin. We recommend an in-office VI Peel or our in-home Cane + Austin glycolic acid pads. The in-office peel or Fraxel procedure would be done either four to six weeks before or after a micro-needling treatment."
Treat Your Skin (With or Without Micro-Needling)
Next up: Dermatologists swear by glycolic acid peels for radiant skin.