Wayback Machine
Previous capture 29 Next capture
2012 2013 2014
9 captures
14 Mar 12 - 8 Dec 13
Close Help
Loading... Loading... Loading... Loading...
Bookmark us | About us | Advertise | Login | Register 
Sunday, Dec 04, 2011
The Star/Asia News Network
Skin needling: No pain, no gain

By Sandra Low

[Above: South African plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Desmond Fernandes using a 1.5mm needling stamp on the forehead area.]

His youthful skin belies his age, and that could be because 69-year-old South African plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Desmond Fernandes has done more than 50 skin needling procedures on himself.

"Skin needling is very controversial because it sounds wrong," said Dr Fernandes at an interview in Kuala Lumpur recently.

"What we've discovered is that when you prick your skin, it doesn't leave a scar," said the Cape Town-based surgeon.

Dr Fernandes started using the procedure in 1994 to treat lip lines. It took him another four years to develop skin needling into what is being practised today.

"If you don't bleed, you won't get the results and that is the part that most people aren't willing to do!" pointed out Dr Fernandes, who has written numerous papers for medical publications on various plastic surgery procedures, methods of improved penetration and skin needling for collagen stimulation.

This system of skin needling was first described during the 50s by the founder of mesotheraphy, Dr Michel Pistor, who didn't employ the method himself but came up with the concept that pricking skin would promote collagen formation.

Skin needling helps in treating lip lines, lines on lower eyelids and pigmentation marks, lightening, and in some cases, even removing traces of scars from superficial to deep cuts, severe acne scars, stretch marks and chicken pox.

Before needling, topical anaesthetic is applied to numb the skin, which must be pricked down to the dermis layer where the nerves and blood vessels are found.

Naturally, when the blood vessel is pricked, it causes bleeding and this releases the platelet cells inside the blood that carry a mechanism to clot up blood vessels. At the same time, it carries out a lot of growth factors.

"When you injure skin tissue, the platelets release growth factors for the skin to heal. It promotes more collagen and elastin. We found that TGFB3 (Transforming growth factor beta-3) molecule helps tissue to regenerate instead of scar," he said.

"When you needle skin, there is a surge of TGFB3. Normally, if we cut the skin, the TGFB3 lasts 24 hours, but when you needle skin there is a surge for two weeks."

Having seen the results of skin needling and how it can help with scars, Dr Fernandes firmly believes that this procedure should be made available at every Burn Unit at hospitals around the world.

He works with two devices: a roller, which he designed in 1997 and patented in 1998, and a vertical needling stamp, used like a small puncher.

However, he stressed that needling alone will not provide the optimal results unless it is supported with both vitamin A, which controls the process for making collagen, and vitamin C which helps to make normal collagen.

After losing two young patients to skin cancer, Dr Fernandes came up with his own brand of skincare called Environ in 1990.

This is said to offer high effective doses of vitamin A along with the right amount of antioxidants vitamins E and C, resveratrol and beta-carotene that reinvigorate the genes of your skin cells, and make the skin younger and healthier.

He said that his brand of antioxidant creams were the first cosmetics to be shown in an international plastic surgery conference in 1994, and since then, he's been regarded as the "skin guru".

When Dr Fernandes introduced skin needling and the need for the procedure to be supplemented with his antioxidant creams, he was accused of making a sales pitch for his own products.

However, he explained that skin needling alone causes skin to thicken by 100 per cent, whereas using vitamin A and C alone causes only 22 per cent of skin thickening.

"But if you combine both, you would get 140 per cent of skin thickening, which is the best results.

Dr Fernandes warned that when there is over aggressive needling (as in using a tattoo gun for needling), it can leave the skin with a nasty scar.

"With a tattoo gun you can remove skin when it is over aggressive. However, with the roller that I designed that won't happen as it works on a much lower pressure," he said.

Interestingly, Dr Fernandes is not overly concerned about over-needling because the bigger problem is under-needling "whereby you won't get the results of smoother and healthier skin. This process of needling is the same tattooing process used hundreds of years ago."

He said that tattoos are considered extremely safe, and doctors hardly see complications or hyperpigmentation from tattoos.

"Needling is basically tattooing without ink. When we examined a tattoo under a microscope, we couldn't find any scar tissue. Even tattoos that are five years old reveal beautiful smooth skin," he said.

According to Dr Fernandes, when skin is needled, only a low level of oxygen is involved. Whereas when you cut open your skin it is exposed to 20 per cent oxygen.

"Oxygen is good for us at a certain level for our lungs and tissues, but we don't want that big amount of oxygen. You cannot survive on pure oxygen, otherwise it will make you very ill," he said.

Skin needling is quite different from laser treatment as the results tend to last much longer and skin actually becomes healthier (especially when used in conjunction with vitamins A and C).

Dr Fernandes claimed that needling is "a topic of discussion at medical conferences and it's one of the safest procedures that you can do to your skin".

While you can't do multiple laser skin treatments to smoothen the skin, you can do several sessions of needling and it makes the skin thicker.

"Laser basically burns your skin. When you have a flash burn on your face, you end up looking several years younger. Later, you get fine wrinkling of your skin so this procedure will damage skin that cannot be replaced," he explained, adding that he was horrified that people are so easily embracing laser skin treatments.

If someone has already undergone laser skin treatments, can needling still be done to improve the skin?

"Yes, with needling she will not only get better looking and healthier skin, she will regain her normal skin," he claimed.

Dr Fernandes said that it's ironic as people don't hesitate to sign up for a procedure that involves aggressive burning of the skin and yet balk at the idea of needling, which is backed by hundreds of years of history and experience.

In Malaysia, a number of beauty salons have begun to offer the services alongside medical centres. For those who are considering this procedure or any other beauty treatment, it is imperative that they consult a recognised trained medical doctor before they embark on the treatment.

  Feeling guilty
  Skin needling: No pain, no gain
  4 reasons to wake up to morning sex
  Bone up for better health
  Controlling cholesterol
  I'm gonna jump
  Top 10 fitness and weight-loss apps
  SNEC explains: Early signs that your child has a squint
  It's the flu
  Fat reconstruction
Feeling guilty
A father's fight for awareness
Arsenic levels in fruit juice spark concern: study
Yoga may ease insomnia, menopause problems
Recycled needles spread hepatitis C
We welcome contributions, comments and tips.
Search AsiaOne: