If you’ve booked a microneedling appointment before, you know that there are a few exciting results you can expect from the treatment: glowing skin, a more even complexion, and improved texture. But there can also be a handful of side effects with the procedure’s downtime — namely potential sensitivity, discomfort, and inevitable redness.
“The device used is powered much like a handheld drill, and at the end of the device is a cassette of very fine needles,” says Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, a board-certified dermatologist in Aventura, Florida. “The variables that can be adjusted are the length of the needle and the speed at which the needle will penetrate into the skin.”
The goal of microneedling is to inflict a small amount of controlled damage in order to stimulate collagen production. Dr. Ciraldo says that the procedure (which is usually done in a series over two to four weeks) has proven very beneficial for a wide range of issues, from fine lines and sagging to acne scars and hyperpigmentation.
Though the treatment has many benefits, it often leads to some lingering redness that can last for a few days. “When [people] get off the exam table, everyone is pink to red,” admits Dr. Rita Linkner, a board-certified dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology™ in New York City. “The next morning the redness [may] increase, with some pinpoint scabbing, but after that, it starts to subside. At around three days out, some patients have a full exfoliative peel.” Fortunately, if you’re strategic in the days and hours leading up to your appointment, and in the hours and days that follow, you might be able to help minimize that redness. Keep reading to discover dermatologist-approved tips that could help flushed skin post-microneedling.
Microneedling Redness Reduction Tip #1: Ask to Adjust Needle Length & Speed
As Dr. Ciraldo mentioned, the needles on your provider’s microneedling device can be adjusted to be shorter or longer. While longer needles may lead to more dramatic results, they also lead to more redness and even potential bruising. She says, “If you have an important event coming up and want to have microneedling, but [want to try to] avoid the redness, ask for a shorter needle length — 1 mm or less — and if possible a slower speed.”
Microneedling Redness Reduction Tip #2: Combine Your Treatment with PRP
A very effective way to decrease microneedling redness is to combine it with a platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment, says Dr. Linkner. The process involves taking the proteins made in your own DNA and injecting them into your skin to further stimulate collagen production. She says, “Because PRP is anti-inflammatory, it [may help reduce side effects].” She notes that, while it will cost more to add this treatment on to your existing microneedling appointment, you’ll likely experience a shorter downtime and improved anti-aging results with PRP.
Microneedling Redness Reduction Tip #3: Take Some Acetaminophen
Both dermatologists agree that classic pain reliever acetaminophen can help with discomfort when taken before and after your treatment. However, Dr. Linkner notes, “It’s important to stay away from NSAIDs (Advil, Motrin, and Ibuprofen) as they could affect your results.” That’s because they are anti-inflammatory medications, and they will work against your body’s natural inflammatory processes, which are critical to your skin’s recovery from microneedling. Be sure to ask your doctor when a good time to resume taking them may be and, as always, before starting or stopping any medication.
Microneedling Redness Reduction Tip #4: Avoid Sun Exposure Before and After
Of course, wearing sunscreen and monitoring your sun exposure is important at all times — not only do you want to avoid skin cancer, but the sun can speed up skin’s aging. However, it’s especially key to pay attention to your sun intake in the week leading up to, and the days following, your microneedling appointment, says Dr. Ciraldo. If you have a sunburn, then it’s best to reschedule so you’re not irritating your already-sensitive skin even further. Also, try not to plan heavy sun days for about a week following your appointment. You want your skin to heal without any possible complications.
Microneedling Redness Reduction Tip #5: Skip the Booze Before and After Your Appointment
Happy hour will have to wait! Alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning it temporarily causes your blood vessels to relax and expand. When skin is injured or blood vessels break under these conditions (say, by being punctured by tiny needles), it can result in excessive redness and potential bruising.
For that reason, Dr. Ciraldo stresses the importance of avoiding alcohol for at least a full five days before your appointment. (Some providers even recommend avoiding it for two weeks beforehand.) This rule applies to many treatments, including injectable wrinkle reducers and fillers, since consuming alcohol increases your chances of bruising. It’s also best to skip drinking booze for about a week following your appointment just to be safe.
Microneedling Redness Reduction Tip #6: Press Pause on At-Home Exfoliators
Hopefully, you’re sensing a theme here: avoid causing unnecessary irritation to your newly-treated skin. In line with that theme, go ahead and press pause on using your go-to chemical and physical exfoliating products. These include AHAs and BHAs, scrubs, aggressive topical acne treatments, and retinol. Such products may cause redness on their own, so they can also make the microneedling-related redness worse. Ask your microneedling practitioner when it would be best to resume these treatments.
Microneedling Redness Reduction Tip #7: Excuse Yourself From Gym Class
Looking for an excuse to miss cardio? You found one. “I tell my patients to wait 36 hours to sweat post-microneedling,” says Dr. Linkner. “When some people sweat, they tend to break out with acne — so it’s best to wait 36 hours post-treatment before hitting the gym.” Plus, if you’re prone to getting exceptionally flushed when working out, that can exacerbate the redness caused by your appointment.
Both Dr. Ciraldo and Dr. Linker reiterate that a microneedling appointment can be quite beneficial for your skin, so don’t feel like you have to avoid it just because of potential redness. (Of course, you should consult your provider on what tips are best for you!) In many cases, redness subsides within a few days and you can always use a bit of makeup to conceal, as well. After learning more about microneedling tools you can try at home, discover the top concealers recommended by dermatologists.