Acne, the most common skin condition, affects up to 80% of people in their teens and mid 20s and later in their adult life. While most acne heals without permanent effects, some does not, leaving various grades of acne scarring ranging from mild to severe.
Acne scars can generally be classified into 3 types, they are –
- Icepick Scars – narrow sharp pits or cracks in the skin, usually narrower than 2mm and can extend into the dermis and deeper into the subcutaneous layer. Traditionally very hard to treat, usually combination in-clinic treatments are required to obtain satisfactory results.
- Boxcar Scars – are indented, round or oval scars with steeply angled sides. They can be shallow ranging to deep scars. Shallow boxcar scarring can be treated with homecare skin needling, deeper scarring may require in-clinic treatments.
- Superficial Soft Scars – indented, round or oval scars with more gradual angled sides than boxcar or icepick scars. They can range in depth from shallow to deep. Shallow to medium depth soft acne scarring can be treated with homecare skin needling, deeper scarring may require in-clinic treatments.
History of Skin Needling
In 1994, Dr Philippe Simonin, a Swissfrench Dermatologist, published his results in Baran’s Cosmetic Dermatology. In his study of 600 patients, he examined results for 2 patient groups, one with Skin Ageing and the other with old Scars. In the patient group with old scars, 60% improved with 5-6 treatments. Best results were obtained for old fibrous and depressed scars.
His ground breaking technique, which he named Electroridopuncture (ERP), remained largely unknown to the wider medical community.
Another pioneer of skin needling, Dr Andre Camirand, a Canadian plastic surgeon, made a chance observation of Derma Prime Plus improvement in the texture and colour of the scars of his facelift patients, who had undergone tattooing for scar camouflage. These patients exhibited both indented and hypochromic (lightened) scars.
He experimented with tattooing facelift scars without pigment. He performed his needling procedures using a high speed tattoo gun, under local anaesthesia and treated each scar to pinpoint bleeding.
In 1997 Dr Camirand reported that one to two years after treatment the appearance of the scars was remarkably improved both in texture and colour.
He postulated that the insertion of the fine tattoo gun needles into the scars managed to breakdown scar collagen and stimulate the synthesis of healthy collagen and hypochromic skin repigmented through the transplantation of melanocytes from normal skin into the hypochromic skin during the needling procedure. He also reported the flattening of hypertrophic (overgrown, raised) scars.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s various doctors experimented with skin needling, developing skin rollers whereby numerous microneedles, of the same gauge as acupuncture needles, were mounted on rollers so as to efficiently deliver the skin needling procedure to larger areas of skin. These doctors also observed that shorter needles dramatically increased the transdermal penetration and thereby absorption of creams and serums into the skin.
Skin needling is an exciting new treatment for acne and all types of indented scarring. Skin Needling can be safely performed on all skin colours and types. There is no risk of post inflammatory hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation (lightening or darkening of the skin as a result of skin trauma) as the melanocytes (pigment skin cells) remain intact, like the dermis, during Skin Needling. This is the major distinguishing safety feature when comparing Skin Needling and other invasive procedures that are used to treat deep line and depressed scars, ie. laser resurfacing, deep chemical peels and dermabrasion.
Skin needling gives similar results to in-clinic treatments such as laser skin resurfacing, chemical skin peels and microdermabrasion but is far less invasive which translates to a far lower risk of complications (such as infection and/or pigmentation) and significantly reduced down time at a fraction of the cost.
Skin needling has been shown to –
- improve the appearance of acne, surgical and all indented scars including stretch marks
- improve the appearance of boxcar and superficial soft acne scars, not suitable for ice pick acne scars
- smooth lines and wrinkle
- improve skin texture
- improve hypo and hyperpigmentation
- relax scars