Dermarolling for Acne Scarring
Acne is one of the most common skin problems affecting Australian men and women today. In fact, according to American research acne affects some 85% of people at some point in their lives. For many people embarrassing acne episodes last a short time with little lasting impact on their lives.
But for a relatively high percentage of acne sufferers acne can be quite devastating. Severe acne can cause skin damage and scarring and have a significant impact on the sufferer’s self-esteem and well-being.
What causes acne scarring?
Acne occurs when there is an excessive build-up of the skin protecting oil, sebum. This oil build-up can clog pores in the skin and allow bacteria to multiply causing pimples and acne. For some people these skin eruptions can be extremely severe and long lasting. In these circumstances, the skin responds to the damage by producing scar tissue.
The scar tissue is noticeably different from the surrounding skin because the collagen fibres that make up the scar tissue form a more fibrous, less flexible mat. This type of scarring is known as atrophic scarring and can be notoriously difficult to treat.
For many years, men and women have treated acne scarring with various creams and gels with limited success. Now, revolutionary medical breakthroughs in the treatment of severe scarring for accident and burns victims have led to the development of a highly effective new tool for the treatment of acne scarring.
Welcome to the world of derma rolling, the most exciting development in the treatment of acne scarring and skin damage.
What is a Dermaroller?
A Dermaroller features a wheel that rotates at the end of a handle. A large number of tiny needles cover the wheel’s surface. The Dermaroller is named after the dermis layer of the skin. The dermis is a vital middle layer of skin (under the epidermis) and is the site of many of the crucial blood vessels and glands that are vital for maintaining youthful, healthy skin.
The Dermaroller is so simple to use; just roll the Dermaroller repeatedly over the area of scar tissue. Healing and replacing scar tissue with healthy youthful looking skin couldn’t be easier. Now, let’s take a closer look at how science has created the Dermaroller and why it’s the ideal method for treating acne scars.
Can Dermarolling help clear up acne scarring?
Yes, Dermarolling can help remove acne scarring and replace it with healthy more youthful skin. Dermarolling is also known as Microneedling or Collagen Induction Therapy or even Percutaneous (through the skin) Collagen Induction (PCI).
Boston University recently released a medically reviewed report of all the major studies covering the effectiveness of microneedling on the treatment of acne scarring. The review concludes that all of the studies completed over the last 10 years indicate 100% that microneedling is very effective at reducing acne scarring and replacing damaged skin tissue with healthy, rejuvenated skin.
Will Dermarolling improve other skin conditions?
Dermarolling (or microneedling) not only helps reduce acne scarring but it may help a range of other skin condition too including:
- Stretch marks
- Sun damage
- Hyper pigmentation
In fact, you can use Dermarolling on any part of your body to bring about amazing changes in the health of your skin.
Evens out skin tone
Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Reduces the appearance of acne scarring and pigmentation
Leaves your skin feeling and looking plump
Reduces the appearance of sun damage
How does dermarolling work?
Microneedling as a cosmetic treatment owes its origins to the pioneering medical research by burns and accident treatment specialists.
Medical research discovered many years ago that pricking the skin with tiny needles to no more than 1mm deep will stimulate healthy cell tissue regrowth without creating any scar tissue. The body responds to the tiny pinprick wound by starting up the normal wound healing response: increasing blood circulation and new cell regeneration.
The extraordinary success of microneedling in the treatment of burn scarring has naturally led to its popular use for cosmetic treatments as well. Dermarolling uses this same body response mechanism to stimulate the production of healthy new skin tissue.
The science behind derma rolling and acne scarring
Collagen is an essential protein that plays an important role in the formation of healthy elastic skin. In scar tissue, this collagen forms less flexible bundles of fibres than you find in normal healthy skin tissue.
Dermarolling breaks down the more rigid collagen patterns that make up scar tissue and also triggers the regeneration of more youthful skin tissue. The result is fuller, healthier skin.
A 2015 study measured the effectiveness of microneedling treatments on the reduction of atrophic acne scars in patients over a three-month period. The results were spectacular with 50 to 60% improvement in the appearance of acne scarring after just 3 months.
The health of the skin, as measured in epidermal thickness and the amount of new collagen and elastin, also showed significant improvements. Numerous other studies support these findings and indicate that skin health and appearance will continue to improve over longer periods of 6 months and more.
Can I use Dermarolling with other treatments?
There is normally no problem using Dermarol in conjunction with creams or lotions. Research indicates that the microneedling treatment will actually help absorption and improve the effectiveness of any creams you apply to the affected areas.
There are some indications that using a glycolic acid peel alongside dermarolling will actually increase the effectiveness of the dermarolling process. Some cosmetic surgeons use laser, dermal fillers or will make tiny incisions into the skin to remove scar tissue. Some of these treatments require a healing period and obviously, you will not be able to use your dermaroller during that period.
Many of these other treatments are both expensive and require repeat application. It makes sense to start with the Dermaroller and watch the transformation of your new healthy skin unfold before you try some of these other costly options.
What about collagen injections?
Collagen injections may help to fill in deep atrophic scars. You will need to wait for the inflammation to settle down before you can use your Dermarol again. The benefit of collagen injections is almost always temporary, and you will need to repeat the treatment regularly.
How to use Dermaroller for acne scarring
It’s good practice to soak the Dermaroller in isopropyl alcohol for 5 to 10 minutes to sanitise the needles before using. Cleanse your skin thoroughly. Roll the Dermaroller over the damaged areas of skin. Use short vertical and horizontal strokes—around 2 or 3 times for each direction. Roll with a gentle speed. Roll backwards and forwards ensuring you cover each area at least 2 or 3 times.
Follow up by applying a gentle vitamin C and E based serum to your skin.
After you finish make sure you clean your Dermaroller with an antibacterial solution or isopropyl alcohol to avoid any infection.
How much pressure should I use?
The idea is to stimulate the skin’s healing response so you should only use enough pressure for the needles to penetrate the skin. Facial skin is fairly sensitive so be gentle. You may experience a tingling or even mild burning sensation but if it hurts or you start bleeding too much then you’re probably using too much pressure.
What’s the Ideal Needle Length
The idea of Dermarolling is to trigger the body’s skin healing process without causing more scarring. For facial skin, the ideal needle length is from 0.25 to 1.0mm. You may want to try using different needle lengths but we recommend that your needles should never exceed 1mm in length.
Although some studies have used needles as long as 2mm this was under supervised situations. You should be very careful about using a needle that is any longer than 1mm for home use.
It’s always a good idea to discuss your planned dermaroller use with your health professional especially if you have a medical conditions that affect blood clotting or circulation.
How often should I use the Dermaroller?
Your Dermaroller will be most effective if you use it once or twice each week. The inflamed skin will need a little time to repair itself so give yourself at least 48 hours between rolling sessions. Use the Dermaroller before you go to bed so that any inflammation can settle overnight.
The longer the needle you use the longer you will need to allow for recovery between each rolling. For example, if you use a small 0.25mm needle you can use the Dermaroller every 3 days. The recovery period between rollings is vital for your skin, so don’t try and do it too often.
How long Before I See Results?
How quickly you see results will depend on how badly scarred your skin is and how consistently you use the dermaroller. You should see a lot of improvement within 1 month but collagen continues to form a long time after an injury so you may still be seeing improvement for some time afterwards.
It may take 3 months to see significant results with heavier scarring but be patient; the results will come. Make dermarolling a regular part of your beauty and skincare routine and you’ll be thrilled with the reduction of your acne scarring and the improvement in the overall health and appearance of your skin.