Microneedling and the Dermaroller for Acne Scars and Pigmentation

When it comes to evening out my skin tone and getting rid of my acne scars, I feel like I’ve tried everything under the sun. I’ve easily wasted thousands of dollars on products and treatments, generally left feeling hopeless and frustrated. I’ve tried masks, serums, chemical peels, lasers, and everything in between. I struggled with cystic acne for years, and although I got rid of it, it did leave me with pigmentation and acne scars that really bothered me. So, typical me – I spent years of my life researching “how to get rid of acne scars” and tried almost every single suggestion I found. I spent way too much time on Google. Don’t repeat my mistakes.

I’m basically just trying to explain that I’ve tried it all. I can’t speak for what will work for everyone, but I can tell you about my own personal experience. I had always hoped that something simple and relatively cheap, like a serum or even microdermabrasion, could get rid of my scarring if I was diligent and persistent enough, but I learned that the only things that really made a big difference for my stubborn scars were more drastic measures. Until the dermaroller. More on that in a second.

The two things that I felt made the biggest difference in my acne scars were Fraxel laser and microneedling. I started off with chemical peels and microdermabrasion, but they didn’t give me the results I wanted. I then decided to try out microneedling.

If you’re not sure what microneedling is, it’s basically a battery-powered pen that contains a ton of little needles that pierce your skin very quickly. It’s kind of like a stamp that creates really small punctures/wounds in the skin. This can create “pinpoint bleeding,” which basically looks like microscopic blood droplets on your skin. The idea is that these pricks will increase collagen production because the body will work to rebuild the skin in the area. You trick the skin into thinking it’s wounded, so it grows back with a thicker, more even texture. It’s also helpful because it allows any serums that you put on after to really penetrate, making them much more effective. It’s supposed to be good for scars, wrinkles, sun damage, and aging skin in general. The results are cumulative, so it takes multiple treatments to see those results. You go in, get the microneedling, allow your skin to heal, and then go back after a few weeks/months and do it again. Most people need 6 to 8 treatments to start seeing results. Patience is key!

The first time I got microneedling done, I loved it. It doesn’t hurt, but they usually numb the area anyways. I had my dermatologist only focus on my scarred areas because I didn’t want my entire face done. I had really small dried blood marks in the area where it was done, but they were so small you could hardly see them. It looked like I had a sunburn for a few days, and the area on the skin was really dry and red. I made sure to stay out of the sun, apply a lot of moisturizer, and let my skin heal. It was a little sore, but not too bad.

After two rounds of microneedling, I was really impressed with my results. My scars weren’t gone, but they looked better than before. My dermatologist told me I would get better, faster results with lasers, so at that point I switched over to lasers and left microneedling behind. Go big or go home. I wrote about my experience with laser here, so you can check that out if you’re interested. Long story short, I’m happy I got the laser done. However, it didn’t get rid of my scarring completely, which is what I wanted. I am so vain.

I’ve spent so much money on products and treatments that after laser, I told myself I wasn’t doing any more. I told myself that if the laser didn’t work, then that’s just how it was going to be. Well, about a year later I went back on my promise to myself and ended up trying a different laser. I got 5 rounds of that, and still didn’t see good enough results to justify the money spent. It was disappointing.

At that point, I reflected on what I felt was most worth my money, and it was definitely the Fraxel and the microneedling. Microneedling was the first thing I did that actually gave me hope that my scars could fade! I decided to look into dermarolling, something I had previously written off before.

Dermarolling is similar to microneedling because you’re puncturing the skin with a bunch of very thin needles to cause trauma to the area and encourage collagen production. The difference, though, is that dermarolling is when you roll those needles into your skin. Microneedling is typically done with a Dermapen, which goes up and down on the skin like a stamp. When I was first researching all of this, I stayed away from dermarolling because I didn’t want to mess up my own skin – I wanted to leave it to a professional.

Also, I felt better about a pen/stamp going up and down on my skin rather than needles rolling into my skin. The danger with that is in the angle. Think about it. When something is stamping needles into your skin quickly, the needle is going straight down vertically. When the needles are rolling onto your skin, though, they can go into your skin at a weird side angle and potentially tear the skin in a way you might not want. This could cause even bigger scars. There are also a ton of different choices to make when it comes to dermaroller needle sizes, and I didn’t want to have to choose. Too much effort.

Although those things initially deterred me, after my second round of laser, I reached a point where I was completely fearless with my skin and knew it could withstand a lot. I’m used to using myself as a guinea pig now, and I’m more than willing to try anything. So in December I decided to invest in a dermaroller and see how it went! I know a lot of you have been asking me to write this post sooner, but the one thing I know is that changes in your skin take a long time to show up. I personally think you have to give anything at least 3 months to start noticing a difference. Now that I’ve been using the dermaroller for almost six months, I feel comfortable sharing my opinions on it.

To be blunt, I think that dermarolling is the best option for acne scarring when weighing the pros/cons of cost and results. Microneedling gave me better results because it was more intense, but dermarolling is cheaper and I can do it myself. It might take longer, but it’s much more cost effective and I think I can get the same results with a little more time. I honestly feel like I’ve gotten better results from dermarolling and microneedling than from the lasers I’ve used. I think that stronger lasers would give the best results, but those are way out of my price range, and I don’t want the down time. With the strongest lasers, you’re basically out of commission for a few weeks.

My acne scars are not gone, but they are less noticeable than ever before. It took about 3 months for me to really notice any differences, but I noticed that my dented scars were a bit more filled in, and the color had started to blend in with the rest of my skin. Basically, things were evening out. Some of my very small scars are completely unnoticeable now, but the big ones are still there. Again, they’re much better than they were before. Probably about 80% improvement, which is huge for me. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who notices them, and I’m comfortable not wearing makeup.

Details. Ok.

First of all, the dermaroller I decided to buy was from Banish. There are a lot of cheaper ones on Amazon, but I would rather be safe than sorry. If I’m going to put needles into my skin and potentially pulling blood, I don’t want those needles to be from a questionable source. I also replace my dermaroller every once in awhile for sanitation reasons and also in case the needles start to get dull. I want to make sure the needles are sharp so they effortlessly penetrate my skin. If the needles are dull and start to drag, they could pull at your skin and make tears at undesirable angles.

Because I know how much my skin can handle, I was pretty aggressive with my treatments. I started off doing it twice a week and rolling away until I was bleeding. I would not recommend this to other people, especially if you’ve never gotten a treatment on your face like this before. If I had never had any treatments before, I would do it once and then wait until my skin completely healed before doing it again, and I also wouldn’t roll long enough to make my skin bleed.

So I went at it. The next day, my skin was sore and very red. There were a few blood marks. The redness lasted for about a week, and within that time, my skin began to peel off. Every time I dermaroll, I know that area of my face is not going to look cute for awhile. Usually a week and a half. I’ve been using my dermaroller at least once a week for the past five months, but often two or three times a week. When I use it multiple times in a week, it’s because my treatments aren’t as aggressive. When I’m really aggressive, I need to give my skin more time to heal. Now that my results have kind of evened out, I only use it once every one or two weeks.

How exactly do I do it? First of all, I make sure my skin is clean and dry. I soak the needles in rubbing alcohol for at least five minutes prior to using it to sterilize it. Then I roll away at the area I want to target, in all different directions. First I go up and down, then I go side to side, then I go diagonal, and then I do it all again. It’s really important to go at different angles so that the skin grows back as uniformly as possible, and so that you’re not just making the same exact tears over and over again. After I’m done, I soak my dermaroller in rubbing alcohol for about 10 minutes again, then I dry it and put it away.

After I’m done, I wipe the area clean with some witch hazel and a cotton round, and then I apply my Vitamin C serum from Beautycounter. This is the most important part, in my opinion. I either use the Rejuvenating Radiance Serum followed by the No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil, or just the No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil. Either way, it’s SO important to apply a serum afterwards. One of the main benefits of dermarolling is to allow the serums to really penetrate deeply into the skin. These serums not only add moisture and help the skin heal, but they contain ever-so-important Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an amazing antioxidant that brightens and evens out skin tone and texture by enhancing collagen production. It’s been shown to reduce wrinkles, red marks, sun damage, and other skin spots, and I personally think it’s a must in every person’s skincare routine.

In the days following my dermarolling, I take extra care to stay out of direct sunlight if possible, and I always wear sunscreen on my face. I use the Beautycounter Sunscreen Face Stick for this because it’s non-toxic and in a stick form, which is the most reliable form of sunscreen. So many sunscreens are filled with ingredients that are terrible for our health, so using a SAFE sunscreen is extremely important. You want to make sure you’re protecting your skin from the sun after dermarolling because the skin will be extra sensitive to photo damage at that time. You don’t want to cause more sun damage in the process of trying to even out your skin tone!

I would definitely look into using a dermaroller if you struggle with acne scars or pigmentation, but I think you need to be cautious with it. It is causing trauma to the area, and there are risks associated with that. You can cause more damage than healing if you’re not careful. For some people, it gives them scarring and pigmentation when they didn’t have that before. Also, know your skin. If your skin doesn’t heal well, then this might not be the thing for you. If you have the money to get professional microneedling done, I would recommend that. A licensed dermatologist will know what he/she is doing. However, if you don’t have access to that and you feel very confident in yourself when it comes to playing with your skin (like me), then dermarolling is a great option. I personally have seen great results with it, and I am going to continue to use it from here on out!


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