What is Microneedling?

What is microneedling exactly? Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is a minimally invasive procedure that rejuvenates skin, reduces signs of aging and blemishing, and improves skin texture.

What is Microneedling exactly?

While trends in fashion come and go, healthy, youthful skin is always in. How we get there, however, is a different story. For years the cosmetic industry has offered a myriad of options from high-tech laser treatments to injection-based therapies which are incredibly expensive, come with numerous unwanted side effects and risks. For those searching for a cost-effective, more natural, holistic option for their skin that does not involve expensive drugs and injections, microneedling is the answer.

What is microneedling exactly? Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is a minimally invasive procedure that rejuvenates skin, reduces signs of aging and blemishing, and improves skin texture. Especially popular among Gen Z and Millennials, microneedling has begun to stand out from other skin care treatments and procedures due to its effectiveness, affordability and safety. Treatment begins with the application of a facial cleanser to remove dirt and oils, and then a topical numbing cream to reduce discomfort during the procedure. The process involves taking a dermapen – a small motorized tool which is equipped with a series of tiny, sterile needles – and slowly moving it across the face, giving particular attention to targeted areas (such as blemishes or scarring) and adjusting needle depth based on the issue being treated.(3) Topical serums and creams for skin rejuvenation are applied during treatment, and once complete. Some practitioners incorporate the use of BioLight therapy at the conclusion of the procedure to further stimulate the production of beneficial chemicals and new skin cells and reduce acne-causing bacteria as well.(7)

Despite microneedling’s current trendiness, the procedure actually dates back to 1905, when it was conceptualized by German dermatologist Ernst Kromayer. Since then, many new methods and varieties have been developed, leading us to the current and most popular method used here at Synergy Acupuncture which involves the microneedling process, serum application, and BioLight therapy following the procedure.

How does Microneedling Work?

Microneedling works by creating small holes known as micro-injuries on the upper levels of one’s skin. Similar to how acupuncture functions by prompting intrinsic bodily responses, this “damage” stimulates the formation of new skin cells and prompts the body to increase production of collagen and elastin, two proteins essential for healthy, youthful skin.(1) During this healing process, collagen helps skin to maintain firmness and tightness, while elastin keeps it flexible and resilient – both of which contribute to helping skin resist wear and tear and aging. Together, these chemicals work to rejuvenate skin from the inside out, and help to fill in fine lines and wrinkles.(1)

As mentioned, microneedling can also reduce the appearance of scars, blemishes and discolorations as well. The healing process microneedling triggers increases skin cell turnover, causing old, damaged skin to shed and be replaced at a higher rate by healthy, new skin cells enhanced by the abundance of elastin and collagen produced during treatment.(3) The increased cell turnover rate and elastin and collagen reduce inflammation as well, which promotes healing and helps reduce the intensity of active blemishes and acne scarring.(1) The mechanical action of the needles also physically breaks up pigment discolorations, which is especially beneficial for hyperpigmentation damage, such as melasma, age spots and surgical scarring.(3) Together, the mechanical action and enhanced cell turnover improve skin texture by evening out surface layers of skin where blemishes and discolorations are most prominent.

One of microneedling’s more unique features is how it enhances the effectiveness of topical skin care products both during and after treatment – in essence, microneedling can act as a transdermal drug delivery system.(3, 4) During treatment, tiny, micro-channels are created across the surface of the skin. These allow topical products to penetrate deep into the skin, enhancing their effectiveness – this is why many practitioners apply nutrient-rich serums and creams during the procedure itself. After treatment, these micro-channels remain open for a brief period of time lasting a few hours, allowing for continued absorption. As a result, many practitioners recommend applying a high-quality serum or cream shortly after treatment once the patient has returned home. Likewise, microneedling can also be used alongside hair regrowth and restoration treatments to increase the scalp’s absorption of topical serums, enhancing results.(5)

Microneedling in Action

What Serums are used during microneedling Treatment?

The topicals used for skin rejuvenation during microneedling treatment vary widely and can include a variety of unique serums and creams depending on the needs of the patient’s skin, such as stem cell builders, hyaluronic acid and collagen and elastin builders. One popular serum for stem cell building, which promotes the reproduction of facial cells under the epidermis (the upper most layer of skin), is swiss apple stem cell extract. These stem cells, known within apples for promoting longevity, encourage the skin to remain firm and taut, warding off the development of wrinkles and sagging skin.(9) Hyaluronic acid is a popular choice used in most microneedling treatments regardless of goals, as it helps the maintain moisture in skin. This helps skin to retain a youthful, dewy look – hence why it may be used during blemish removal treatment and rejuvenating treatments alike.(10) Collagen and elastin builders come in many varieties and forms – here at Synergy Acupuncture, we use shiitake mushroom extract and poria cocos extract, or China Root, for elastin and collagen building. Both are known to naturally assist with synthesis while also shielding collagen and elastin cells from degradation via metalloproteinases, an enzyme that ages our skin by attacking collagen and elastin which releases in greater amounts as we age.(11, 12)

What is BioLight Therapy? How does BioLight Therapy Work?

BioLight Therapy further enhances the effects of microneedling by using ultraviolet lights to stimulate specific bodily responses. How does BioLight Therapy work? BioLight therapy, sometimes referred to as LED therapy, is another non-invasive skin care treatment which works very well in conjunction with microneedling. It works by using the wavelength of colored light to penetrate different layers of skin and trigger specific cellular activity through a process known as photobiomodulation, which is when the energy of light is converted into cellular energy.(7) After treatment, a small covering of LED lights is placed over the face and used to direct various colors onto treated skin. Different colors and their wavelengths achieve different results. Red light penetrates deep, and is used specifically for anti-aging benefits. The red light is absorbed by our cell’s mitochondria, the “powerhouse” of the cell, where it stimulates the production of adenosine triphosphate, which cells use as energy.(8) Similar to the healing response triggered by the procedure itself, skin cells use this extra energy to further stimulate the production of collagen and elastin.

Blue light has a very unique antimicrobial effect. Blue light works to reduce bacteria on the surface of the skin, especially the acne-causing propionibacterium acnes, by triggering the production of reactive oxygen species within it.(7) The reactive oxygen species is toxic to the bacteria, encouraging it to die off, thereby reducing the chance it has to cause acne. Blue light also helps reduce the production of oils in our skin, which can contribute to acne development. It can even reduce inflammation, which can help treat the redness and swelling that arise alongside acne breakouts.(7)

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  2. McCrudden MT;McAlister E;Courtenay AJ;González-Vázquez P;Singh TR;Donnelly RF; (n.d.). Microneedle applications in improving skin appearance. Experimental dermatology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25865925/
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  8. Wunsch, A., & Matuschka, K. (2014, February). A controlled trial to determine the efficacy of red and near-infrared light treatment in patient satisfaction, reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, skin roughness, and intradermal collagen density increase. Photomedicine and laser surgery. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3926176/ 
  9. Trehan, S., Michniak-Kohn, B., & Beri, K. (2017, July 12). Plant stem cells in cosmetics: Current trends and Future Directions. Future science OA. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5674215/ 
  10. Papakonstantinou, E., Roth, M., & Karakiulakis, G. (2012, July 1). Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-endocrinology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583886/
  11. Taofiq, O., Heleno, S. A., Calhelha, R. C., Alves, M. J., Barros, L., Barreiro, M. F., González-Paramás, A. M., & Ferreira, I. C. F. R. (2016, October 14). Development of mushroom-based cosmeceutical formulations with anti-inflammatory, anti-tyrosinase, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6274557/
  12. Fang CL;Paul CR;Day CH;Chang RL;Kuo CH;Ho TJ;Hsieh DJ;Viswanadha VP;Kuo WW;Huang CY; (n.d.). Poria Cocos (Fuling) targets TGFΒ/Smad7 associated collagen accumulation and enhances Nrf2-antioxidant mechanism to exert anti-skin aging effects in human dermal fibroblasts. Environmental toxicology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33336893/#:~:text=cocos%20is%20effective%20in%20attenuating,potential%20agent%20in%20cosmetics%20products