Microneedling - A comprehensive guide for men
The concept of microneedling has been around for more than twenty years and has gained massive popularity in recent times due to its practicality, relative ease of use and effectiveness. You have probably already heard about it at your dermatologists office or seen it in numerous YouTube videos. But what is the data behind microneedling, what is it good for and how can you benefit from it as a man striving to maximize looks? This article is going to cover the ins and outs so you can successfully employ this multi-purpose tool to the best of its abilities.
First, some basics
In order to understand the concept behind microneedling, even given its simplicity, we would want to take a quick look at the structure of the skin.
As previously mentioned, the basis of microneedling relies on physical trauma, which, as proposed, leads to rejuvenation of the dermis. The needles penetrate the stratum corneum, creating micro-holes with minimal damage to the rest of the epidermis. This activates the natural wound-healing cascade, subsequently releasing growth factors such as TGF-alpha, TGF-beta and platelet-derived growth factor (PGDF) and ultimately leads to the deposition of collagen and elastin by cells known as fibroblasts. In addition, new blood vessels are formed following treatment – an event that has a beneficial effect on scars.
Types of Microneedling Devices
Currently, there are many mechanical microneedling devices that are available and the majority that you are going to encounter when shopping for one being a variation of either the Dermaroller or the Dermapen.
The Dermaroller is a hand-held device with a cylindrical roller, containing anywhere from 192 to 1200 needles. The length of the needles selected is dependent on the personal needs and goals. For treating acne and other scars, a needle length of 1.5 – 2mm is typically preferred. When the Dermaroller is used as an anti-aging procedure, a length of 0.5-1.0mm is advised. A general rule about the frequency of procedures is that the greater the needle length, the more time is needed for healing of the skin, thus the less frequent the usage. For example, when using 1.5mm needles, a rest period of no less than 3 weeks should be taken.
The Dermapen is an automated microneedling device which, as shown by its name, is in the form of a pen. This device allows for the adjustment of needle length and, due to being battery-charged, of the vibration speed, having a low- and a high-speed mode. This device is preferred when treating narrow areas such as the nose and the skin around the eyes. It also has the benefit of constant pressure so you won’t have to worry whether you press hard enough. Another plus that the Pen has is that it doesn’t get your hair tangled in the needles when used for hair restoration. The downside here is its cost – ranging anywhere from 30USD for cheap Chinese products to 170USD for the Dr.Pen A7.
In conclusion, The Dermaroller is most likely going to be the cheaper choice that is still going to get the work done, but if you look for a tool to use long-term, we think a variation of the Dermapen is going to give you better bang for your buck.
Therapeutic possibilities and evidence
As alluded to earlier, microneedling has a very wide range of applications, extensively backed by clinical studies. The following sections will provide you with an overview of the clinical trials in dermatology that have been performed with manual microneedling devices with a focus on common problems for the looksmaxxing man.
There are several studies that show the efficacy of microneedling in the treatment of scars. A pilot one by El-Domyati et al. concludes that, among 10 patients with atrophic facial scars from acne, there was a statistically significant increase of collagen types I, III and VII. Patients also reported a ~55% improvement in scar appearance and had 80%-85% overall satisfaction following six treatment procedures in 6 months, using a needle length of 1.5mm. Another interesting randomized controlled trial by Cachafeiro et al. compared the efficacy of microneedling and laser for the treatment of atrophic facial scars. The 46 patients were randomized to two groups and received three treatment sessions per month for three months. Both groups showed significant improvement at 2 and 6 months post procedures and no statistical significance between the two methods was observed (p = 0.264). What’s more, the patients in the microneedling group suffered less adverse effects.
2. Male pattern baldness
Microneedling has been growing in popularity due to great efficacy for another common cosmetic problem that men face – baldness. A 2013 study by Dhurat et al. involving 100 MPB patients concluded that the combination of microneedling with minoxidil 5% was statistically superior to minoxidil monotherapy. By the end of the therapy (microneedling was used every week for three months at a needle length of 1.5mm) the mean hair counts were significantly greater in the combination therapy group – 91.4 vs. 22.2. A follow-up trial, by Dhurat and Mathapati, with 4 MPB patients that did not respond to previous treatment (topical minoxidil or oral finasteride) showed that introducing microneedling to their protocols resulted in greatly increased hair growth and subjective increase in hair thickness after 1 month.
Have we found the secret to a neverending youth? Well, at least when it comes to skin quality, microneedling is a good candidate. A multicentre study with 499 participants by Calderhead et al. investigated the efficacy of a microneedling protocol on aging skin, using needle lengths varying from 0.5 to 3.5mm. Clinician-assessed efficacy and subjective patient satisfaction ranging from 80.7% to 88.9% and 81.3% to 85.9% respectively. Microneedling was shown to be beneficial even for the deepest of wrinkles and the biggest improvements were noted in regions with less fat, making the treatment well-suited for those pesky forehead wrinkles. An added bonus of the small wounds induced by microneedling is the improved penetration of topical substances that are often deployed in the context of skin rejuvenation. It is often used in combination with topical vitamin C and tretinoin, as well as red light therapy, but that’s another topic for another time.
Conclusion and final words
As you now know, microneedling has proven itself effective for many common skin-related worries and in our honest opinion should become a mainstay in every looksmaxxing man’s arsenal.
Singh, Sadav. “Microneedling: Advances and widening horizons”. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2016 Jul-Aug; 7(4): 244–254
Calderhead, Goo, Lauro, Gursoy, Satish S. Savant, Wronski. “The Clinical Efficacy And Safety Of Microneedling Fractional Radiofrequency In The Treatment Of Facial Wrinkles: A Multicenter Study With The Infini System In 499 Patients”
Iriarte, Awosika, Rengifo-Pardo, Ehrlich. “Review of applications of microneedling in dermatology”. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017; 10: 289–298
El-Domyati, Barakat, Awad, Medhat, El-Fakahany, Farag. “Microneedling Therapy for Atrophic Acne Scars: An Objective Evaluation.” J Clin Aesthet. Dermatol. 2015 Jul; 8(7):36-42
Cachafeiro, Escobar, Maldonado, Cestari, Corleta. “Comparison of nonablative fractional erbium laser 1,340 nm and microneedling for the treatment of atrophic acne scars: a randomized clinical trial.” Dermatol Surg. 2016;42(2):232–241