Clinical microneedling is an increasingly popular treatment for all round improvement of the skin. Needling stimulates the wound-healing response in the skin, which results in the growth of new collagen which makes skin firmer, and improves skin hydration and reduces pigmentation and sun damage. It’s good for the face, the hands, and also for the neck and décolletage area.
What’s it like to have a treatment? How much does it hurt, and what do you look like immediately afterwards? I went to try the SkinPen microneedling treatment with expert practitioner Heidi Oldershaw, so watch the video to find out the answers, or read the transcript below.
This video is sponsored by SkinPen.
Hi, I'm Alice Hart-Davis and welcome to this week's Tweak of the Week. The tweakment that I’m looking at today is micro needling done with a specific device called a SkinPen. Microneedling is stimulating the regrowth of the skin by creating tiny controlled wounds in the skin. It’s a bit of a complicated procedure but come along with me at DMC aesthetics in Knightsbridge and I will tell you what it’s all about.
Heidi, you are a national trainer for SkinPen and a real expert on microneedling so can you tell me for a start, what is microneedling good for?
Heidi Oldershaw: Microneedling is going to address a whole range of different skin conditions and so a lot of people think of it primarily for scarring but actually it's really good for fine lines and wrinkles and stimulating the three phases of wound healing, so we are going to get more collagen formed, increased elasticity in the skin. It’s also great for pigmentation, sun damage, even skin tone, it’s great for tightening open pores, it’s great for surgical scars, stretch marks. We can do hair treatments, too, to thicken the hair and also help retain the hair.
Alice: So, what are the advantages of the SkinPen as a device?
HO: Safety and hygiene is paramount. The SkinPen has a constant repetition rate, combined with the constant glide with the practitioner's hand we are going to get 98,000 channels per minute.
AHD: Wow, that’s the number of perforations you are putting into the skin. There must be a disadvantage, which is it's not entirely comfortable, is that right?
HO: It's not entirely comfortable without topical anaesthetic. Some areas that we are treating really superficially like the back of hands and the scalp, so we are only typically penetrating around 0.5mm so we choose to do those areas without anaesthetic.
AHD: What we are going to do today is my neck and décolletage which gets as much sun damage as anybody’s. Particularly from when I was younger and I didn't know you should wear SPF. For an area like that, how deep will you work, because the SkinPen needles can go up to 3 mm?
HO: Yes, our SkinPen is 2.5 mm but for facial and extended facial work we stick below 1.5mm normally.
AHD: How much anaesthetic cream am I going to need?
HO: We are going to use topical anaesthetic which will be on for 15/20 minutes and it's five per cent lidocaine. A lot of my patients find it very relaxing, the consistency of the glide and the movement, they find it quite easy to get in a relaxed state.
AHD: Ok, that’s interesting. It’s like, lightly prickly.
HO: It’s one of the safest devices on the market, and part of its FDA approval was rigorous testing for hygiene. The pen is absolutely 100% safe, you’re not at any risk of cross contamination from patient to patient. Other models of pens have found traces of blood being passed from patient to patient. Even though pens were having a clean sterile needle put on them, the clean sterile needle was going onto a dirty pen so we've taken the device itself out of the pen and put it in a disposable element so each treatment is technically a brand-new pen every time. What we used to call the pen is now just the motor and no blood can pass through the chambers into that motor which means the treatment is completely safe. There is no risk of any hepatitis, HIV or blood borne bacteria.
You would normally expect that you would have this redness for up to 24 hours. So, 20 minutes after the treatment you will be in the recovery phase and all your redness will start to calm down so typically within 24 hours you are virtually fully recovered. What you can’t see is that after 24 hours you are starting to make this new granulation tissue so the body has recognised these tiny little wounds and it responds by flooding the area with blood which is very rich in white blood cells. Our white blood cells carry all what I call golden nuggets, all the goodies, all our stem cells, everything that is going to help make more collagen develop and then that immature collagen will mature and you will get your collagen remodelling from within a week. Peaking at about day 30, one treatment on its own will benefit your skin for 300 days.
AHD: My goodness I had no idea it carried on that long.
HO: Normally I would recommend you have 3 treatments, depending on what condition you came to treat and you would have those about 30 days apart so that you hitting that collagen peak each time and then trigger a new inflammation and a new cascade effect. To be honest, the treatment is suitable for all age groups. But in your 30s you start to be preventative by giving your system a bit of a reboot or a kick up the backside.
AHD: Ok, because can use it on any skin colour can’t you, it’s not going to create any hyperpigmentation.
HO: Absolutely, it's suitable for the lightest of skin types all the way through to the darkest of skin types and compared to other aesthetic treatments, it gets similar results.
HO: You are going to have this erythema [redness] and with that, oedema [swelling], so it is going to feel hot and you might feel like you have a slight sunburn.
AHD: I can feel it just around the edges, that has started to come on already.
HO: It can feel quite tight, that's a really normal sensation. If your skin is dry, it doesn't appear dry to me, it is quite normal to get a peel. That peel might not start for a couple of days and it can be very very gentle and very subtle but if you do peel it is good, the body needed to peel. That is another really good advantage of this treatment, it doesn't force the peel. You don't want to over erode the natural skin barrier which is there to protect you. With this treatment, you only peel if your skin feel sit needs to peel.
AHD: Ok when I go home now should I do anything, not do anything, presumably avoid anything hot like exercise.
HO: Absolutely, avoid anything that is heat inducing, because your body is already trying to get rid of some trapped heat. So that would mean saunas, hot baths, hot showers, any form of heat treatment. And then the area of treatment in particular no exposure to any chemicals or products, so no shower gels, body lotions.
AHD: So, leave them for 24 hours?
HO: Yes, after 24 hours all those channels have closed up and then you are ok to go in with that normal skincare.
AHD: What about retinol?
HO: Depending on the strength of the retinol I would wait a couple of days. The stronger the percentage the longer we would wait. But normally within a couple of days you're fine. The area may be a little bit more thirsty than normal, so we are asking a bit more from your skin so it's natural to give it a little more support. That support would come from topical products, so good vitamin C is key to collagenesis. Then also moisture. It's going to be thirsty. Support can also come from your diet. So, think of your vitamin C consumption as well. Drinking lots of water, keep hydrated. Eat a whole rainbow of fruit and veg, they all contribute.
AHD: So that was microneedling using the SkinPen and it was much more tolerable than I was expecting. I am quite red around my neck as you can see and I am going to be really careful with this for the next 24 hours while the tiny wounds heal up. It feels like a sunburn really, it's hot from the inside but it’s not sore against my clothes or anything. This will calm down and then the collagen production process will kick in and I will look forward to seeing the results that brings. I hope you enjoyed watching, thank you very much.