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SKIN DEEP: UNMASKING THE TRUTH ABOUT AT-HOME MICRONEEDLING KITS

Dr. Rosmy Barrios 12 Dec 2023
SKIN DEEP: UNMASKING THE TRUTH ABOUT AT-HOME MICRONEEDLING KITS

Microneedling is a cosmetic technique that uses small needles to pierce the skin in order to increase the production of collagen. It has gained popularity in recent years for its potential to:

  • Improve skin texture
  • Reduce scars
  • Boost the skin’s regenerative response
  • Enhance overall skin appearance

Traditionally, microneedling is done in a clinical setting. The procedure is performed by a dermatologist or a trained medical professional. However, that is no longer the only way to get the skin-rejuvenating procedure done.

Microneedling has recently ventured into the realm of at-home kits. While the convenience and cost-effectiveness of these kits are appealing, the safety of performing this procedure without professional supervision raises significant questions.

No wonder many are wondering whether microneedling is safe at home. Read on to know more. But first, let us explain how microneedling works.

What is Microneedling?

Microneedling, or collagen induction therapy, stimulates the skin's innate healing mechanism by causing controlled micro-injuries. By triggering this response with tiny punctures, microneedling stimulates collagen and elastin production. Higher levels of collagen and elastin improve the skin's texture, minimize scars, and even out pigmentation.

So, we know how microneedling works in ideal conditions. But is it safe to do it yourself at home?

At-Home Microneedling Kits – Convenience vs. Safety

The accessibility and affordability of at-home microneedling kits are incomparable with professional, in-office procedures. These characteristics are their main allure. At-home kits typically include a handheld device equipped with fine needles and instructions for use. However, the lack of professional oversight raises concerns about safety and effectiveness.

What are the Potential Risks of At-Home Microneedling?

When it comes to at-home microneedling, the risks outweigh the benefits. Here is an overview of the most important ones:

  • Infections

Poor sterilization and inadequate cleaning of the microneedling device can create a bacteria-friendly environment, leading to infections. Skin irritation due to micro-injuries created by needles can also make the skin more susceptible to infections if proper sanitation is not in place.

  • Skin Damage

Using the wrong needle length or applying excessive pressure can cause skin damage, leading to scarring, increased sensitivity, or uneven texture. Aggressive or improper use may cause bleeding, especially if the needles penetrate too deeply.

Inappropriate techniques or failure to follow aftercare instructions can result in skin discoloration or darkening (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), especially in individuals with darker skin tones.

  • Adverse Reactions

Microneedling increases the skin's absorption rate, potentially causing adverse reactions if unsuitable or harsh skincare products are used post-procedure. Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to serums or products applied after microneedling.

  • Aggravation of Existing Skin Conditions

Microneedling can potentially worsen existing acne if performed on active breakouts or infected skin. Additionally, people with certain skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis may experience an aggravation of their symptoms post-microneedling.

  • Uneven Results

Inconsistent technique or failure to follow recommended post-procedure care can lead to uneven healing and suboptimal results.

  • Lack of Professional Oversight

Without professional supervision, users may lack the guidance necessary to perform the procedure correctly, increasing the risk of complications.

What is Safer? - Professional or At-Home Microneedling?

Both professionally and at home, the safety of microneedling depends on various factors. Here’s an overview:

  • Expertise and Experience

Professionals, such as dermatologists or licensed aestheticians, possess in-depth knowledge and expertise in skin physiology. Their understanding of different skin types, concerns, and the appropriate treatment protocols ensures a customized and highly effective approach.

  • Customized Treatment Plans

Trained professionals also can assess individual skin conditions and concerns. This enables them to tailor microneedling treatments accordingly. They can adjust the needle depth, frequency, and specific areas to target, maximizing results while minimizing risks.

  • Sterile Environment

Clinical settings adhere to stringent hygiene standards. Also, professionals use sterilized equipment and maintain a clean environment. This significantly reduces the risk of infections compared to at-home settings.

  • Access to Professional-grade Equipment

Professional clinics often use advanced microneedling devices that may offer better precision, efficacy, and safety features compared to at-home kits. These devices are designed for optimal results with controlled and consistent needle penetration.

  • Reduced Risk of Complications

Trained professionals minimize the risk of adverse effects such as scarring, hyperpigmentation, or infection by employing proper techniques and personalized treatment plans. More importantly, they can also provide immediate assistance if any complications arise during or after the procedure.

  • Combination Therapies

Professionals may incorporate microneedling into comprehensive skincare regimens, combining it with treatments like serums, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), or topical medications for enhanced results.

  • Post-treatment Care and Guidance

For the best recovery and outcomes, aftercare is essential. Professionals offer personalized guidance on post-treatment skincare routines. They are qualified to recommend suitable products and practices to support skin recovery and maximize the benefits of microneedling.

  • Monitoring and Follow-ups

Trained professionals monitor progress and conduct follow-up appointments to assess results. They can address particular concerns and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan for continued improvements.

  • Safety and Peace of Mind

Undergoing microneedling with a trained professional ensures an overall safer experience. It reduces the risk of complications and provides peace of mind.

The expertise, personalized approach, access to professional-grade equipment, and a controlled, sterile environment make getting microneedling done by a trained professional a more reliable and potentially more effective option.

The Bottom Line – Safety First

At-home microneedling kits can be a convenient option for skincare enthusiasts seeking cost-effective treatments. However, if safety is your number one concern, at-home microneedling may not be the ideal option to choose.

Yes, it is possible to achieve satisfying treatment results with at-home kits, but you must not overlook the risks associated with improper use in a non-clinical setting.

Before opting for at-home microneedling, you should weigh the convenience against potential risks. Remember, seeking professional advice or undergoing the procedure under the supervision of a dermatologist ensures safer and more effective outcomes.

In the end, the safety of at-home microneedling kits hinges on meticulous adherence to guidelines, proper technique, and understanding your skin needs. If you have doubts about any of these, consult a skincare professional. That is the safest way to achieve desired skin improvements.

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About the Author:
Dr. Rosmy Barrios is an aesthetic medicine specialist with international work experience. She earned her physician diploma at the Universidad Del Norte’s School of Medicine in Barranquilla, Colombia, and her specialty at John F. Kennedy University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dr. Barrios is a member of Pan-American Aesthetic Medicine Association (PASAM) and the Union Internationale de Medecine Esthetique (UIME). She is an expert health writer with keen interests in aesthetic medicine, regenerative aesthetics, anti-aging, fitness, and nutrition. Currently, Dr. Barrios heads the Regenerative Aesthetics department at a renowned Internal Medicine clinic based in Belgrade, Serbia.

References:

  • Iriarte C, Awosika O, Rengifo-Pardo M, Ehrlich A. Review of applications of microneedling in dermatology. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017 Aug 8;10:289-298. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S142450. PMID: 28848356; PMCID: PMC5556180.
  • Chu S, Foulad DP, Atanaskova Mesinkovska N. Safety Profile for Microneedling: A Systematic Review. Dermatol Surg. 2021;47(9):1249-1254. doi:10.1097/01.DSS.0000790428.70373.f6
  • https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/scars-stretch-marks/microneedling-fade-scars

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