Monday, July 17, 2017

my experience with microneedling

I feel that you guys have been a part of this skin journey for years now. Several years ago, I shared how the Paula's choice system really helped with my acne - that system was the beginning of getting my skin to where it is today. Then about two years ago, I added a tretionoin gel to the regime, which did a great job with helping with the hyperpigmentation scars, as well as with keeping my acne at bay.

Last November, I was seeing my dermatologist for my last tattoo laser removal session. It was right after CR and I got engaged, so I asked her if she had any suggestions for getting my skin to be as great as it could be before our wedding. We discussed lasers (like Fraxels) versus peels versus microneedling. In the end, she recommended microneedling for me as I'm still young, and my main concern at that point was the scarring left over from the acne, and some of the spots that were starting to pop up on my face.

You may have heard of microneedling, as it's one of the big up and coming cosmetic treatments in the dermatology world. Microneedling is the process of using tiny needles to cause microscopic injury to the skin, also called "collagen induction therapy". This stimulates your body to respond to this injury by increasing the production of collagen, which helps treat texture, color, and unevenness in the skin. There are two ways about getting this type of treatment. There's the kind that you can do at home - from what I've read, this is a nice way to get into microneedling, but the needles don't penetrate as deeply or as evenly, so you aren't going to see the same results as you would if you had it done professionally. Then there's the kind where you see someone in a dermatologist's office. At my derm's office, there is an RN who does all of her microneedling and peels. They use the Rejuvapen, which looks like... a pen with a bunch of tiny needles on it.

Okay, so before I get into the process of microneedling, here are some before pictures.
It's hard to really see the scarring in these pictures - I really tried to get better pictures, but depth is hard to capture in pictures. I had true pockmark scars, especially along my temple and the lateral sides of my cheekbones (probably because I get acne where I rest my face on my hands, a habit I can't seem to break - it's all that studying!). But you can see that some of the hyperpigmentation from the acne was still present, and I had a bunch of new discoloration showing up. Once I saw these pictures, I realized even though I don't really see much sunlight anymore, it really was time to wear sunscreen daily, so I'm proud to say I've been wearing this sunscreen daily for over six months now, and feel better every day knowing I'm taking better care of my skin, and preventing more of those age spots from showing up.

Okay, so about the actual process of microneedling! At my dermatologist's office, they started the process by taking before pictures, and then going to their back procedure room. There, the nurse applied topical lidocaine to my face to numb it. I basically then took a 15 minute nap while I waited for the cream to start working. 
mascara details: urban decay primer followed by bobbi brown's mascara
Then, the nurse used the Rejuven and started working at on my forehead down. Because of the lidocaine cream, I felt very little besides just the vibrating. I would say there really was very minimal pain involved, even when she went closer to the edges of my face, where there wasn't always lidocaine cream. You can see how she did it below: 

The only true painful part was the "stamping", which from how she explained it, is she "stamped" aka went deeper, on the scars that needed a bit more collagen induction. It was a split second of pain for each stamp, and nothing that should scare you away from the process, but I definitely want to warn you that that may be painful for a split second.

All in all, the process from start to finish takes about one hour.

After the whole face has been done, you are ready to go! Your face will be red and feel tight - kind of like if you got a bad sunburn. Here's what I looked like right after walking out of the office (you can even still see the lines the scrub cap left).
For the next 12 hours, my skin felt pretty tight. Nothing unbearable, but enough that I noticed it. By the next morning, there was just a bit of redness remaining, and within 24 hours, my skin color was back to normal. During the first few days, you are not supposed to sweat or go into the sun much.

Here is the downside to microneedling. It is not a quick fix like a facial would be. You do not walk out of the dermatologist's office with brand new skin. It takes about 4-6 weeks to really see a difference, and for optimal results, you have to have multiple sessions. So I have had three sessions, spaced between December and May. Each session at my dermatologist's office cost $200. As someone who has been unhappy with my skin for the last 15 years, that money was more than worth it to get rid of the evidence of the acne that my skin is slowly overcoming. I now only wear a primer and a BB cream daily, and some days only a bit of concealer under my eyes because I don't need to put a bunch of stuff on my face anymore. I plan on getting one more treatment next spring, about two months before our wedding.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the results that microneedling gave me. If you have acne scarring or hyperpigmentation that just won't go away, talk to your dermatologist to see if microneedling may be a good option for you. I firmly believe that creams and lotions can only do so much, sometimes you have to get the professionals involved!

disclosure: I am obviously sharing this from the point of view of a patient, this is not medical advice! :)