Dermarolling: Hype vs. realistic results

Quite a few sites that sell dermarollers make unrealistic or downright false claims about what to expect from dermarolling. This article aims to clear up some misconceptions.

Dermarolling wrinkles before and after

Not all crows' feet respond to dermarolling

Many of our customers reported a reduction of wrinkles and improved skin texture. From my own experience, I reduced the wrinkles between my eyebrows (11's) with single needling and on my forehead and around the lips (this area was really painful to roll) with dermarollers. The wrinkles are still visible but they filled in noticeably. Unfortunately, my crows' feet are not responding to dermarolling. Perhaps due to the fact that they are constantly reinforced by muscle activity by smiling (I do not use Botox). Do not expect that all your wrinkles will respond the same way to dermarolling.

The advantage of wrinkles being filled in by the collagen production triggered with dermarolling or needling is that the results are really long-lasting compared to injected fillers. Restylan, Perlane or other fillers based on cross-linked hyaluronic acid are very expensive and they are relatively quickly metabolized by the body, so they have to be re-injected every few months. The results of dermarolling, a cheap method, will last for years, although they are not "permanent" because a dermaroller can't stop aging and the wrinkles will eventually start to re-form. Dermarolling maintenance is necessary.

You should know that a dermaroller and other microneedling instruments such as dermastamp or the single needle can only affect the skin itself and not the underlying structures (fat, muscles etc). For this reason, they cannot for example improve "hollowness" under the eyes caused by fat recession (as we age, the subcutaneous fat recedes), neither it can significantly improve the nasolabial fold because it is not a wrinkle but a fold caused by a drop of the facial structures. Long-term dermarolling thickens the skin, fills up wrinkles, lines and scars but it has a limited effect on the nasolabial fold.

Dermarolling can't fully remove stretch marks

Don't believe claims that it can. Neither can any laser-based device. Stretch marks are deep scars in the dermis and there is currently no method that can remove them. Dermarolling or needling can very significantly improve the appearance of stretch marks but it cannot make them disappear. What you can expect after many months of dermarolling and needling of stretch marks:

  • improved texture
  • improved color - the color blends much more with the surrounding skin
  • slightly less indentation and/or width
  • tiny areas of normal skin appear in the stretch mark (islets of normal skin)

Especially when dermarolling is combined with single needling, you can expect a combination of at least a few of the above.

Bad stretchmarks

I am often asked whether needling can gradually replace scar tissue with normal tissue, e.g. when done monthly, for years. My honest answer is that needling scars is a new method that has not been around long enough to know the answer. So far, none of our customers achieved a complete resolution of their stretch marks. Also not of surgical scars, nor scars that resulted from serious injury. A couple of customers said that some of their smallest, shallowest stretch marks had disappeared (initially, the stretch mark broke up and became fragmented and the fragments gradually disappeared after more needling). The most common feedback is that their stretch marks improved but have not vanished; not even after one and half year of monthly needling. Since scars are merely a cosmetic issue, our body does not bother to replace scar tissue with normal skin. Skin microinjuries (which is what needling or dermarolling does) are a clever trick to force the skin into remodeling and regeneration. The microinjuries are not big enough to cause more scar tissue but they are big enough to trigger healing processes and regeneration. Unfortunately, the induced regeneration doesn't completely replace scar tissue by normal skin; it normalizes the skin only partially.

Whether partial normalization of scar tissue is the terminal point of microneedling or whether the scar tissue will gradually be replaced by normal skin until the scar is gone is still unknown. Until we know, it is unethical to advertize a dermaroller for stretch mark removal. Nonetheless, any improvement of a stretch mark or scar is a victory. Until very recently, there was no method able to achieve even a noticeable improvement.

It may be possible, but it is also still unknown whether or not dermarolling can partially prevent stretch mark formation in pregnancy.

Dermarolling can more-or-less reverse skin aging

The skin consists of two main layers. The epidermis and the dermis.

The epidermal cells turn over quick. The epidermal cells are constantly being produced at the bottom of epidermis, and then they travel up and are eventually sloughed off from the skin's surface. It takes about twenty days for the cells to get from the bottom of the epidermis to the skin surface where they are sloughed off. This continuous process slows down as we age but it is still extremely rapid, compared to the turnover of the dermis.

The dermis has an extremely slow turnover. The half-life of dermal collagen is about fifteen years!

What does this mean:

You are born with a certain amount collagen in the dermis.

  • When you are 15 years old, 50% of the original collagen remains (the rest has been replaced).
  • When you are 30 years old, 25% of the original collagen is still in your skin.
  • When you are 45 years old, 12.5% of the original collagen is still in your skin.
  • When you are 60 years old, 6.25% of the original collagen is still in your skin.

And again, the newly formed collagen has a half-life turnover of about 15 years.

When you are for example 60 years old, some of the original collagen you had as a newborn is still in your skin. This collagen has been subjected to sun damage and other damage for 60 years. It is no wonder we get wrinkles and sun-damaged skin! Elastin has an even longer half-life turnover. It is about 70 years. Sigh.

When collagen gets damaged, the body immediately repairs it but unfortunately, as we age, the repairs turn out rather provisory and to make matters worse - we're faced with diminishing collagen levels.

This extremely slow turnover of the collagen and elastin in the dermis is the reason why a tattoo in the deep dermis (>1 mm) lasts a lifetime. A Tattoo will slightly lighten over the years but its pigment weathers the decades. "Permanent" makeup is not inserted that deep so it doesn't last as long as a tattoo.

The big deal with dermarolling is that you can trick the body to trigger collagen and elastin much sooner than the natural rate of turnover.

Dermarolling with needles that reach the dermis causes tiny microinjuries in it and the body sees it as a high priority to fix them. These microinjuries will trigger new collagen. But sadly, the skin will never be as perfect as when you were young.

Ablative methods, such as acid peels or ablative lasers can't be used to reach the dermis due to the risk of scarring and hypopigmentation. But a dermaroller very easily can go that deep, because it does not ablate the skin, it only pricks it. Since the pricks are surrounded by untreated skin, the regeneration happens very quickly. It takes long to achieve results because every time you roll, you only prick small fractions of the skin. Be patient and repeat the microneedling procedure on yourself as often and as long as it takes.

Dermarolling will speed up the dermal proteins (collagen and elastin) in the dermis and this can slow down (but not stop) the signs of skin aging. Maybe not all signs but at least some.

Dermarolling and hyperpigmentation, melasma

Usually, hyperpigmentation is the result of locally uneven/excessive melanin production. Melanin is the pigment that determines the color of our skin. When our skin is exposed to the sun, it produces more melanin as a natural protection - melanin absorbs UV. Unfortunately, melanin is not always produced totally evenly, especially in individuals with darker skin.

Uneven/excessive melanin production can also be the result of skin trauma - sun burns, acne, cuts, bug bites etc. If the hyperpigmentation resides in the epidermis, it responds very well to dermarolling. If it is in the dermis (deeper part of the skin), it also responds but it takes much longer. Hyperpigmentation in the dermis is too deep for acid peels but not too deep for a dermaroller. You have to avoid excessive sun exposure and always use a sunscreen. Ignoring this advice may lead to a reappearance of the pigmentation.

Using a dermaroller to facilitate the skin penetration of skin whitening creams can be a very successful treatment for persistent or deep hyperpigmentation or melasma but you have to be careful with hydroquinone (a common skin whitening agent). The long-term usage of a high percentage of hydroquinone in combination with sun exposure can cause dark pigmentation. Do not apply high concentrations for a very long time.

I hesitate to recommend a dermaroller for melasma. Dermarolling triggers inflammation and inflammation or any kind of skin irritation can in principle worsen melasma. For the same reason, a dermaroller should not be used on Rosacea. Always do a test patch first if you use a dermaroller for melasma.

Dermarolling works against hypopigmentation

Treating hypopigmentation with dermaroller and needling showed very good results. Hypopigmented skin has malfunctioning or absent melanocytes (melanin producing cells). Skin needling triggers melanocytes production and enables migration of melanocytes from the surrounding skin into the hypopigmented area.

Dermarolling acne scars - patience rewarded

If you got what it takes - the patience and perseverance for long-term dermarolling, dermastamping and single needling - you are destined for success. Major improvement of acne scars was the most common feedback we have received.

Some of our customers combined dermarolling with other methods such as saline injections or the suction method. Both methods are explained on our forum.

Large pore

Dermarolling to reduce pore size - not really

Not many customers were successful in reducing the pore size. Pores are not scars, pores are ducts in the skin and there is currently no method that can reliably and permanently reduce them. Dermarolling however often helped normalize acne prone skin and post-acne pigmentations.

Dermarolling sun-damaged skin works well

You can expect excellent results in renewing the sun-damaged skin of the face, décolleté and to a lesser extent of the forearms and the back of the hands. Application of Tretinoin (Retinoic acid or A-Ret) further boosts improvement.

Needling sagged skin - works but no miracles

Dermarolling can improve mild skin laxity and crêpey skin on the face, neck and body or a wrinkly post-pregnancy abdomen, provided there is not too much excessive skin. The bulging, sagging abdomen after pregnancy is often due to the abdominal muscles not having gone fully back to their original position - this can only be fixed by a tummy tuck.

You can greatly improve a tummy tuck scar or a C-section scar by needling. The scar will soften and becomes less visible. Dermarolling cannot get rid of excessive skin after major weight loss. Skin folds can only be fixed by plastic surgery.

In the process of aging, the face and the neck start to "hang" due to:

- loosening of ligaments that attach the skin to the bones
- gravity
- loss of fat and descending of fat
- loss of elasticity.

Dermarolling can improve mild skin laxity but it cannot fix severely "hanging" skin.

The situation is even more complex on the neck. There is a muscle running from the collarbones to the jaw (Platysma muscle). This thin muscle holds the subcutaneous fat and everything else tightly in. When fat deposits accumulate in the platysma muscle area, we end up with a double chin. As we age, the platysma muscle slightly falls which causes jowls and a hanging neck. In addition, the muscle often starts separating in the midline of the neck, which allows fat protrusion that further contributes to a sagging neck.

platysma

Dermarolling cannot fix the problems related to the platysma muscle - it can only improve skin texture mild skin laxity of the neck.

Wild claims to sell more rollers

Some websites say that dermarolling reverses gray hair, completely removes cellulite, helps with slimming, enhances breast size and so on. It's all nonsense, as we showed in this posting, where we found falsified before-and-after pictures: Dermarolling breast enlargement scam.

derminator-machine

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1.  jo    Friday, February 10, 2012

Hi

I have light broken capiliaries on the bridge of my nose, is it safe to dermaroll on this area and what length should be used.



2.  Sarah Vaughter    Saturday, February 11, 2012

From our experience, dermarolling neither improves nor worsens broken capillaries.



3.  Sarah Vaughter    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

There is no other way to find out whether it will work in your case than trying it. Use a 0.2 mm dermaroller every second day (or less if it irritates your skin). It should gradually thicken the epidermis and hopefully make the skin texture better. If you get no results after many months, try a 1.5 mm dermastamp.

Some of our customers are currently trying to improve their pore size with a 1.5 mm dermastamp but I have not received any feedback yet.

Do not put your hopes too high. And please give us feedback later.



4.  Valla    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thank you so much for your honesty. It's refreshing!



5.  as    Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wow - how refreshing to read something so detailed and honest. Thank you - this is why I trust buying from you.



6.  Polar7761    Monday, May 21, 2012

It has been claimed Dremarolling can help with hairloss , thining hair or receding hairline and that the best needle length for this is 1.0

Is it worth trying and would this be the best needle size or could I use the 1.5 for both face and hairline.



7.  Sarah Vaughter    Monday, May 21, 2012

Please read:

http://forum.owndoc.com/sho...



8.  matwiz    Friday, July 20, 2012

I appreciate your honesty and directness to the point. This information makes me believe the advantages of dermarolling more than any advertisement. Thanks



9.  Lucia Rodrigues    Monday, October 8, 2012

I couldn't agree more. I am dermarolling since Feb 2012 because I had an accident and I hurt the skin next to the out corner of my left eye.

I am addicted to dermarolling now. But it didn't harm my few broken capilaries nor it improved it.



10.  disqus_5GBUK9ABHW    Saturday, April 27, 2013

I find dermarolling swells my face on a temporary basis, making it appear to have more volume and helping in a more youthful appearance for several days. It also makes me look like I have a more color in my face. It does help [along with retin-a, prescription .05 gel] in maintaining a definite antiaging effect. I think the pricks help the retin-a to absorb into the deeper layers better. I would definitely recommend it as part of an adjunct to antiaging.



11.  Robin    Thursday, May 2, 2013

I agree with you 100% !! My skin and face is so thin that any increase in volume/plumpness really does show. Most certainly gives a youthful glow, too.



12.  disqus_5GBUK9ABHW    Friday, May 3, 2013

Yes, age-related fat loss and thinning skin in the face, along with the accompanying sagging I think is the most telling sign of aging. Sometimes the fat sinks into the lower portion of the face, producing pronounced jowls. I do find derma rolling with retin-a does help somewhat with skin firming and increasing skin thickness, but, for major "repair", I wish there was another course other than resorting to cosmetic methods. Facial exercises I have found help a little. Anyways, derma rolling definitely helps me to rebuild and maintain what I now have. Also, I use the 1mm about once a month, there usually is a lot of surface bleeding, sometimes little pin pick scabs a few days afterward. On the alternate weeks I use the .25mm, I find it is enough to help maintain that "youthful" glow and puff up the face a little. Hope this helps. Has anyone else found anything that can help in this area?



13.  Kristin Groop    Sunday, May 19, 2013

Thank you for sharing your views of microneedling. I would humbly suggest you revisit skin anatomy and physiology prior to asserting that "You are born with millions of collagen cells in the dermis." Collagen is a protein produced by fibroblasts. It is NOT a cell and does not "turnover". While I agree with much of your observations of the hype generated by many who wish to sell rollers, your erroneous explanations as to both the structure and function of the integumentary system does a disservice to both your readers and the hardworking skin care professionals who have taken the time to study and apply their knowledge. Percutaneous collagen induction therapy has both benefits and limitations. At my practice and at my school we spend extensive time compiling, analyzing, and applying peer reviewed research with respect to micro needling as well as other modalities such as laser/IPL based therapies.



14.  Sarah Vaughter    Monday, May 20, 2013

You are right. I somehow overlooked that I misused the word "cell" in connection to collagen. I modified the text. Thank you for notifying me.

Regarding the term "turnover", it is commonly used in connection to collagen and elastin. Just a few examples:

Efforts to understand the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis have
focused primarily upon collagen turnover in the lung..

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

Elastin has a low turnover rate (T½=70 yrs)(42), and 409 with increasing age becomes glycated, which might contribute to the increased stiffness, despite…

http://jap.physiology.org/c...

Elastin has a half-life of 60 to 70 years. Elastin is produced by SMCs
and fibroblasts; the turnover of elastin is low..

http://www.amazon.com/Haimo...

I agree with you that I made a mistake in wording but I do not agree with you that misusing the word "cell" instead of "protein" concerning collagen has done any disservice to dermarolling or hard-working professionals. The disservice is done by those claiming that dermarolling will enlarge breasts, completely remove stretchmarks, remove skin folds after major weight loss and other such claims.



15.  Kristin Groop    Sunday, October 6, 2013

I agree with you 100% that the outrageous claims made by
many "practitioners" and companies selling rollers and automatic devices have created an unrealistic expectation of the consumer. I work hard to manage my clients and students expectations of what can realistically be achieved and continually battle the hype and "claims" made by the less informed or people only interested in making a buck. I appreciate your efforts in educating and informing.



16.  JACQUIE     Thursday, January 23, 2014

I have been using the 1.5 roller now for 2 months and the texture of my facial skin along with the pores is amazing.. I am 48 and was getting some sagging or dropping however you want to call it around the jaw line but also on my neck.. after two months pores are barely noticeable and the sagging around jaw line is gone and my neck skin tightened up amazingly.. I wont kid you using this on your face is ouchy but it works.. i found by doing a small patch at a time it becomes numb quickly but you also feel the tightening immediately.. I followed with the copper collagen peptide and I can tell you i love the results!



17.  Sarah Vaughter    Thursday, January 23, 2014

Very glad to hear this and thank you for the feedback!



18.  TexasBirdGirl    Sunday, March 9, 2014

How often do you use the roller? I just started, I am 48 as well.



19.  JACQUIE     Monday, March 10, 2014

I use the roller every 3rd day... i also use the vitamin c serum and copper peptide the days in between i use a galvanizer. The best is I got carded the other night.. I laughed then showed my ID and the woman said. OMG no way I thought you were like maybe 28 or 30.. made my year!! rolling rolling rolling. gonna keep on rolling!! ;)



20.  Linda    Saturday, March 29, 2014

What needle length do you use?



21.  sandra    Monday, April 7, 2014

So I have supplementation and acne scars on my face. I look like cheetahs, with white spots. Anyhow. I think I'm going to use my 1.5 seems stamp on the spots followed by ginger root rub and 15 min in the sun. And then use a dream roller .3 every other day. I'm 35 acne prone, been using the new proactive although up till six months ago murad worked great. I'll take any suggestions please.



22.  Denise    Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hello. My sister has thinning hair. In fact most of it has gone. I have read that needling can restore some hair growth and reduce thinning. Is this true??



23.  Sarah Vaughter    Thursday, April 10, 2014

Yes. Especially when used in combination with Minoxidil.



24.  Dawn    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

She out to just get a wig. Seriously. If she has very little hair, she will probably LOVE a full lace wig!



25.  seescaper    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

You are promoting a microprocessor controlled dermaroller soon to be available. what are the plusses and mjnuses of this compared to the manual? Should I delay purchase till the microprocessor version is out?



26.  Sarah Vaughter    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

There is a description of some of the benefits of the Derminator here, and we will update it as we move closer towards its launch:

http://shop.owndoc.com/prod...



27.  Ite    Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What do you think about dermarolling for eyebags that are slightly dark at their 'outline' (rather than the whole bag being dark)? Thanks!



28.  Sliceo'pie    Friday, February 17, 2017

I'm confused, you're talking about how great rolling works but then saying here, "don't get your hopes too high" Is that because they're using a smaller needle or not using the Derminator? It's not clear.



29.  Sarah Vaughter    Saturday, February 18, 2017

Very simple. Dermaneedling works (in nearly all people) but don't believe the lies spread by unethical competitors that it can improve cellulite, for example. And don't expect miracles like the complete disappearance of scars. That's all.



30.  Clare O'brien    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Clare
Don't go in the sun! The UV helps acne but you will pay later with sun dammaged skin! Most aging comes form UV light. If sun blocks and SPF mosturizer cause your acne to worsen just avoid exposure and take a vitamin D supplement.



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