Skin needling is an old fashioned form of fractional skin resurfacing that involves the use of multiple needles on a roller. Roller depths range from half a millimetre to 2.5 millimetres deep. Needling acne scars can result in a mild improvement in acne scars.
Dermatologists at the Acne Specialist Clinic believe that Fractional lasers and Fractional RadioFrequency are much better than skin needling for the treatment of acne scars.
The limitations of skin needling include the depth of penetration of the needles. Acne scars lie deep in the dermal layers of your skin, way beyond the reach of needles.
Newer forms of skin needling, such as Dermapen provide better results compared to first generation skin rollers.
I had skin needling for acne scars at another clinic and had very minimal improvement. This time around I had fractional laser performed by a Specialist and the results are much better. My recovery time was the same for both procedures
Rolling & Depressed Acne Scars
Mixed Acne Scars
Skin needling was pioneered over a decade ago to treat acne scars and stretch marks. Using a roller armed with surgical needles, the treated skin
Is punctured at intervals of 2-3 millimeters. This puncture wound breaks down collagen and scar tissue, and encourages new tissue to form. This new tissue fills up the scars, and may reduce undulations in the skin.
Because heating of the dermis is not achieved with skin needling, collagen remodelling and scar improvement is limited. Treatments such as lasers and RadioFrequency denature collagen in a controlled manner, resulting in much greater improvement in acne scars.
A new form of entry-level scar revision using Dermapen has proven to be an effective method of scar revision.
Skin needling before
Skin needling after
Skin needling is performed by a Specialist Dermatologist in one of our operating theatres at Westside Dermatology. The treated areas are first mapped out and photographed, and an anaesthetic cream applied to the area.
With the help of a nurse, the treated areas are rolled with the surgical device.
Treatment takes 10-15 minutes to perform, with minimal discomfort. A dressing is applied after the procedure. The skin heals within 3-7 days after the skin needling procedure.
Specialists at the Acne Specialist Clinic used to perform cases of skin roller needling, however we have largely replaced this procedure with lasers or RadioFrequency, or a newer form of skin needling known as DERMAPEN.
The internet is filled with skin needling for acne scars, pigmentation, wrinkles, and in some cases companies even advertise this a ‘fractional resurfacing for acne scars!’
Skin Needling for acne scars can give a mild improvement in scarring, however a medical grade roller will need to be used. Medical needling kits such as Medical Dermapen (not home kits), contain a much longer needle - 2-3 mm in length, compared to home kits which may range from 0.25 to 1mm needles. If you are going to use 2-3 mm needles, you will need local numbing cream, and run the risk of infection.
We suggest you seek Specialist opinion before embarking on skin needling.
Most patients can expect modest results after 4-6 treatments. Treatments are spaced 6-8 weeks apart. As a guide we advise patients that they should expect 30% improvement, as compared with laser where they should receive double the improvement compared to skin needling.
Laser acne scar revision: average improvement in scarring of 70%
Skin Needling 30% improvement in acne scars
The recovery time for skin needling is around 3-7 days, which is similar to recovery as the newest Fractional laser treatments. Following needling for acne scars, pin-point bleeding is seen for 12 to 16 hours after the procedure. Swelling and occasionally bruising is seen for upto 48 hours to 72 hours. Flaking, and peeling can be seen 3-5 days after needling. Your Dermatologist will discuss with you the expected recovery time prior to any treatment.
For many patients we combine skin needling using the Dermapen system with RED LIGHT PHOTOTHERAPY (not Blue light Omnilux), the combination of LED with Dermapen speeds up the recovery process, and compounds scar remodelling.
In Specialist hands this is a very safe procedure and can be used on acne scars of all skin types, including darker skin patients.
Side effects are rare however the below reactions can occur-
- Bruising that may last for 5 days
- Gridding or patterning that may last for several weeks
- A change in skin colour
- Infection (rare)
- Flare up of acne
Following skin needling or Dermapen, your skin will be red and raw for several days. Oozing, bleeding and weeping will occur for upto 24-48 hours. You will be given a comprehensive skin care kit to aid in healing of the treated areas. Your skin and acne scar sites will heal up within a week of needling or Dermapen treatment.
Specialist do not recommend that scars treatments be performed if patients have any active form of acne. Dermatologist at the Acne Specialist Clinics can advise on treatments for patients with acne. The Acne Free RF Program is ideal for patients who have active acne and acne scarring.
Skin needling can improve acne scars, however with the progress of lasers, and radiofrequency devices, there are much better techniques for improving acne scars!
Deep ice pick scars don’t respond to Fraxel/ Fractional lasers nor skin needling. A treatment called TCA crosscan be performed on deep acne scars.
Fraxel and Fractional lasers including Fraxel, CO2 CORE Fractional and ProFractional outperform skin needling for consistent results in scar improvement.
Radiofrequency or RF treatments are better, cheaper and safer than skin needling, and work by scar remodelling with minimal trauma to the upper layers of skin.
The cost of skin needling depends on the areas treated, and complexity of acne scars. We have replaced the older skin rolling devices with the state of the art Dermapen skin needling. We find this device more effective for acne scars than skin rollers, and provides a cost saving to acne scar patients.
DERMAPEN – Medical Needling
- Dermapen: small areas (half cheek): $240 – includes ½ cheeks both sides
- Dermapen: large areas (cheeks, forehead, temples): $ 295
- Dermapen with LED – Dual Mode treatments: additional $80
- Dermapen Consultation with Laser Nurse: $98 refundable upon treatment
- Highest quality numbing gel: $80 per application small area, $99 large area
- Pay for 5 treatments upfront, and receive the 6th Dermapen treatment for free!
Skin needle rolling
- Smaller area treatment: eg half a cheek each side $550
- Larger area treatment: eg Cheeks, temples, forehead $850
NOTE - Skin needling at the Acne Specialist Clinic has been replaced with other much better, safer and cheaper methods, including Radiofrequency or RF treatments.
Radiofrequency treatment of acne scars achieves a much higher rate of acne scar treatment, and has a better safety profile. It is also less painful than skin needling, and is associated with a faster recovery time. RF is also cheaper to perform compared to Skin Needling.
More on RadioFrequency treatment for acne scars
Specialist recommend a series of 3-4 treatments spaced 6-8 weeks apart for results of 30% + improvement.
Skin needling is considered cosmetic in nature and NOT covered under Medicare/ Private Health insurance.
No referrals are needed for this treatment. In fact Dermapen skin needling is so safe, if you are considering this treatment, patients are encouraged to book in with our Specialist Nurses thru the Acne Solutions Clinic. The charge for assessing your acne scars, scar mapping and photographs and a treatment plan is only $98. This is fully refundable should you undertake Dermapen Skin Needling.
Dr Davin S. Lim
Acne Specialist Clinic
Westside Laser Dermatology
Skin needling at Westside Dermatology has been largely replaced by state of the art lasers such as Fraxel and Profractional, and most recently by fractional Radiofrequency devices such as Subablative. The merits of skin needling was that it could be performed on all skin types, with little risks, and minimal downtime.
In today’s age, true fractional devices such as Fractional RF, Erbium laser, Fraxel and fractional CO2 lasers are much more effective, but also have the advantage of an excellent safety record. Overall, lasers or RF devices coupled with surgical techniques, TCA cross and subscision outperform skin needling in every case.
Newer devices such as RadioFrequency provide a better solution for mild to moderate acne scars in comparison to skin needling. RF is also more comfortable for the patient, safer, and cheaper.
We still have a few skin needling rollers in the practice, and they will remain in our archive section of medical equipment. Where skin needling has an advantage over all laser treatments is the cost to the patient. Using the new Dermapen system of skin needling, treatments start at only $240 per session- an affordable entry-level method of scar revision for most patients.