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Does microneedling work for acne scars?

This popular treatment is all the rage for boosting collagen, fighting wrinkles, and firming skin. It was only a matter of time before people starting wondering, “can it reduce acne scars, too?”

Here’s what the science says (and why I’m NOT the biggest fan):

What Is Microneedling?

Micro-needling is a treatment that involves rolling a device with lots of tiny needles attached to it over your skin to create holes in it. 

Yep, you’ve read that read. You’re puncturing your skin with needles. WTH?!

It’s all done in the name of collagen production. These needles cause small pricks in your skin that induce your body to produce more collagen (the protein that keeps your skin firm) to heal them. The more collagen your skin has, the firmer and smoother it gets.

It works too. According to a 2008 study, 4 micro needling treatments (one month apart) boost collagen and elastin by 400% – 6 months after the last treatment. Impressive, isn’t it?

Related: Microneedling: Does It Help Or Hurt Skin?


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Does Microneedling Work for Acne Scars?

Did you know acne scars are the results of too much or too little collagen?

When your skin gets hurt, your body responds by producing new collagen to repair the damaged tissue. But, often, things go wrong.

If your skin pumps out more collagen than the wound needs to heal, you’re left with a raised scar. If, instead, your inflammatory acne destroys too much collagen, say hello to indented scars.

The whole point of micro needling is to create a controlled situation that stimulates skin to produce just the right amount of collagen for healing, resulting in smooth, even, healthy skin tissue. Bye bye, scars.

Related: Acne Marks VS Acne Scars: What’s The Difference And How Do You Treat Them?

Does Microneedling Work For ALL Types Of Acne Scars?

Not all acne scars are created equal.

Microneedling does NOT work for raised scars (or “keloid scars”, if you want to speak science). They already have an excess of collagen (gone wrong). Adding more won’t help things go back to normal.

Instead, microneedling works best for depressed acne scars, like icepick and boxcar acne scars. They formed because your skin has lost too much collagen, leaving it without support. Adding more collagen can reduce and smooth out acne scars.

Age (of the scars, not yours) matters too. Microneedling works best on older acne scars.

Related: How To Treat Acne Scars: The Complete Guide

Does Microneedling Have Any Side Effects?

Microneedling is fairly safe. You can get it done in around 15 minutes with little or no downtime.

But, it’s not without side effects. You may experience:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Infection
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Scarring (especially if done too often or on active acne lesions!)
  • Swelling

This is why it’s key to choose a trained professional. Pick the best (not the cheapest) practitioner for this.

How Many Microneedling Sessions Do You Need To Treat Acne Scars?

Microneedling isn’t a one-off treatment. You need multiple sessions to see results.

How many microneedling sessions YOU need depends on the type of scar you’re healing and how deep they are. On average, you’ll need at least 4-6 sessions over several months to notice an improvement.

P.S. Microneedling for acne scars costs between $100 and $700 – per session!

Can You Do Microneedling For Acne Scars At Home?

You could do microneedling at home, but I do NOT recommend it. Here’s why:

  • Not suitable for everyone: If you have active acne, rosacea, eczema, or your skin is irritated in any way, microneedling could make things way worse. Even if you’re a good candidate for microneedling, there may be better options, like lasers and chemical peels, for you. You won’t know about them unless you talk to a dermatologist.
  • Less dramatic results: At-home microneedling devices use smaller needles that can’t penetrate skin deeply enough to boost collagen production. You may still see a small improvement (the holes you make in your skin help active ingredient better penetrate), but it’s nothing compared with what a professional treatment can do for you.
  • Skin damage: At-home micro needling devices don’t penetrate skin as deeply, but in the wrong hands, they can still tear, stretch, and scar skin. For example, by using them on active acne or on badly irritated skin. As a rule, if you’re not sure of what you’re doing, don’t.
  • Lack of sterilisation: Microneedling devices create holes in your skin that increase the risk of bacterial infection if you don’t sterilise them in between uses.

Microneedling at home may be cheaper. But if you’re not getting the results you crave, is there even a point?

The Bottom Line

Microneedling is an effective treatment for depressed acne scars. It works by boosting collagen, helping smooth out scar tissue. But it’s not without side effects. Done wrong, it can cause hyperpigmentation, infection, and more scarring. I’d personally try laser or chemical peels for acne scars before resorting to microneedling.


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