Does skin needling really work?

Every day since I opened my skin care clinic a few years ago, it seems like daily, clients optimistically ask me: “Does skin needling really work as good as people say?” Skin Needling, also called Micro Needling or Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), is a relatively new cosmetic procedure that uses the body’s own healing process to stimulate collagen production and skin cell turnover.

Does skin needling really work? The short answer is yes. Whether you ask any beauty enthusiast or people that have tried it for an overall uplift in their appearance, minor scars, stretch marks, stubborn hyperpigmentation, and other related cosmetic challenges, the almost universal review is wildly positive.

However, It does depend on what you are trying to achieve when Skin Needling. There are some things to consider that could wildly affect the outcome.

Does skin needling really work?

Skin needling works by “tricking” your body into thinking it has been hurt.
Consequently, it begins to heal itself.

Imagine a single, ever so slight, barely noticeable pinprick on your cheek.

From your body’s perspective, this pinprick causes a slight amount of “damage” just below the outermost layer of your skin.

Your body rushes to heal and repair this tiny prick by stimulating new elastin, collagen, pathways for freshly oxygenated blood, fresh, young cells and other components, so the small prick is rejuvenated and glowing.

When your body is done repairing itself… the old cells where the prick happened are gone, and that single prick is now as good as new.

Now imagine all of that goodness happening thousands of times!

When you go in for your skin needling, the clinician will use a derma pen, or roller to prick your skin multiple times in one pass.
This amplifies your body’s healing effect. 

The needles are incredibly thin and range from .25 mm to 2.5 mm long.
These are just long enough to prick the outer layer of your skin without penetrating too deep.

Collagen and elastin are two of the core elements providing your skin’s structure and firmness.
Skin needling causes your body to produce more/new collagen and elastin.

As a result of the “renovations” happening underneath, your skin firms and tightens on the outside of your body.

Skin needling/micro needling/collagen induction therapy is used to address:

  • Sun damaged skin
  • Loose, saggy skin
  • Scars
  • Wrinkles
  • Lines and fine lines
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Stretch marks
  • Acne
  • Enlarged pores

If you are chasing one of the most natural ways to improve the overall appearance and condition of your skin, boosting your body’s own response mechanisms with skin needling should be at the top of your list.

Is Micro Needling Painful?

It sounds like having thousands of microneedle pricks could be painful… Right?

Lucky for you, most reputable clinics and salons conveniently apply the topical numbing cream on your face about a half-hour before the collagen induction therapy (skin needling) starts.

Some people even elect not to have the numbing cream applied at all! Personally, I don’t recommend this robust approach.
(Why suffer if you don’t have to?)

During the procedure, you may feel some discomfort at times.
It’s usually experienced when needling the forehead, upper lip, temple, and upper cheek area.

Regarding pain, the actual treatment itself is very tolerable.

Immediately following your micro needling session, a soothing serum will be applied.

This will be followed by a hydrating facemask that will feel like something beautiful…
The likes of which you have never experienced before!

This is because a fabulous and remarkable extra benefit takes place during the weeks following a skin needling session…
Your moisturizers and products penetrate your skin more in-depth than ever and work like crazy!

Your skin may be tender – but not painful – during the couple days following your skin needling session.
For most, the discomfort is gone by the end of the following day. Some people describe it as “itchy.”

Even people with the most sensitive skin report their skin “returns feeling normal” by day four.

**It is important to note that while your skin may be tender for a couple days, any bright redness immediately following your micro needling session just about disappears overnight. By the end of the following day, you can restart your regular skin care routine.

If you are thinking about getting one of the home derma rolling or skin needling kits, you probably won’t experience any pain because you won’t be getting the same results as you will in a salon or skin clinic.

The consumer kits are designed to keep you from injuring yourself.
The short needles on those will not typically go deep enough into your skin to stimulate any meaningful volume of collagen or elastin production.

How many micro needling sessions do you need?

The number of sessions you will need really does depend on what you are trying to address, where on the body it’s being performed, and the state of your skin to begin with.

As a general rule, count on three (preferably four) sessions as a minimum to really let your skin’s natural beauty re-emerge.

If you intend to effortlessly tighten pores, encourage collagen / elastin production, and jump-start an overall refresh for your face, count on four sessions.

If you need to address mild acne scarring, as a rule, it is best to budget for a minimum of six to eight sessions.

Most people experience a real “wow” factor after just their first session.
It may be tempting just to do the one sitting and then forget about returning.

And while this may seem like an option, keep the bigger picture in mind, you are monumentally better off coming back for two or three more sessions.

How long does a skin needling session take?

The skin needling session itself may only take about 45 minutes.
But in reality, you will need to budget more time… This is why:

if it is your initial session, you will need to consult with the clinician that will be doing the work.

They will make sure that you will get the very best results from micro needling.

They may ask if you have:

  • A history of allergies
  • Any immunosuppression
  • Diabetes
  • Rosacea
  • Had Botox or Dysport treatments recently
  • Had any fillers such as Juvederm recently
  • Pregnant

If you have any of the above, there may be some time frames and guidelines that need to take place before you can have micro needling.

Please be sure to tell your consultant about any of the above even if they don’t specifically ask.

This consult may last anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.

Then your skin needling session takes place.

In many prominent places, your micro needling session is followed by some sort of soothing facial.
Count on this lasting about 30 minutes.

So even though your skin needling session may only last 45 minutes, you will probably need to block 2 hours out on your schedule.

How long does micro needling last?

This is one of the many reasons why micro needling is becoming so popular!
The effects are pretty long-lasting and have a price point that is surprisingly affordable.

After your first micro needling session, it will take about two or three days before your collagen production really kicks in.
It will take 3 to 4 weeks after that before the effects are really noticeable.

This new collagen – in theory – lasts a couple years!

There are external factors, and just life in general, that in reality makes this more like about 18 to 24 months.
Here’s why:

After your initial series of 3 to 4 skin needling sessions, your skin tone and texture should be a much more noticeably improved version of what started.
This new collagen plumps your skin, fills in fine lines and tightens pores.

Sunlight and smoking will work against your new collagen.
Also, as we age, the frequency of cell turnover declines rapidly. 

So the “new” collagen you lose while out enjoying the summer, or while in a tanning bed, just doesn’t get replaced as quickly as when you were younger.
This is why the 24 months turns into 18 months or less.

After your initial series, many clinics suggest a single maintenance, or “top-up” micro needling session about every 4 to 9 months depending on lifestyle and environmental factors to stimulate new collagen production.

Related Questions

Can I work out after skin needling?
Not for the first couple days.
Because your skin is trying to repair itself, it is not recommended to get sweat/bacteria into it if possible.

Does your face peel after micro needling?
There will be some peeling as new skin emerges and pushes the older / dead skin cells away.

Does skin needling help acne?
Skin needling has had some fantastic results eliminating acne scars, lessening the recurrence of (and possibly stops!) acne completely.
Perhaps because your skin becomes less oily after skin needling.