Admittedly, I don’t do well with needles. I was that kid who screamed before the vaccine was even drawn up into the syringe. My first and only experience with acupuncture was disastrous: each time I was pricked between my toes and fingers, I winced until I was in full on tears, and the therapist stopped the session. If I must get my blood drawn, I keep my eyes closed, squeeze the heck out of that foam ball, and yell internally. So, even though beauty insiders and friends were talking about the skin-brightening and rejuvenating results from professional microneedling treatments, you can probably guess I wasn’t jumping on the trend.
But then a beauty company sent me an at-home dermaroller, which mimics a microneedling treatment in a doctor’s office. When rolled across the skin’s surface, the tool makes tiny punctures, creating micro-channels that allow skincare ingredients to go deeper into the dermis. Simultaneously, the micro-injury triggers the cells to create collagen. I was intrigued by the reviews and positive results claiming glowing, radiant-looking skin, so I examined the tiny tips on the roller. Unlike those single, long acupuncture rods, these smaller spikes didn’t illicit a PTSD or fearful response in me.
I realized that if I could withstand this baby step, I might be able to endure an in-office treatment; so I took a deep breath and gave the at-home tool a go. To my surprise, I found it virtually painless. While the results were what I expected — better absorption of products leading to a brighter look the next day — I knew from doctors and friends that results from an in-office treatment would be more dramatic. I could expect a smoother, more radiant, and even complexion that I could never get at home.
After researching my options, I found that a microinfusion microneedling treatment was the latest way to supercharge the microneedling results. Unlike the at-home roller, the tool features a dime-sized tip with longer, hollow needles. They make deeper microchannels and allow for active ingredients to go directly into the dermis. According to Dr. Lara Devgan, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City, this is a form of collagen induction therapy.
“This specialized medical device allows a doctor to make thousands of controlled-depth needle punctures in the surface of the skin,” explains Dr. Devgan. “Each one of those sites becomes a minor injury, stimulating a collagen production response.” In addition to delivering a glowing, glass skin look, Dr. Devgan notes that microneedling can help improve skin’s elasticity to maintain plumper, more youthful looking skin, create a more even tone, reduce redness, and minimize acne scarring. Due to these potential benefits, she told me that my primary concerns — light vertical lip lines and flushing on my cheeks — could be addressed by the treatment.
It all sounded good to me, but what about the needles? I wasn’t convinced I’d be ready for them, since they were longer than those on my at-home dermaroller. But Dr. Devgan assured me I’d be OK — thanks to a thick layer of numbing cream. This was all the info I needed to take the plunge.
Before the Microneedling Treatment
I arrived at her office bare-faced and slightly nervous. As I took a seat in Dr. Devgan’s posh waiting room, where soothing, classical music was playing, I felt a wave of calm wash over me. Then, in the treatment room, Dr. Devgan immediately eased my nerves even further by showing me the tool. It had teeny pricks on the head like my dermaroller. She explained to me that, thanks to the numbing lidocaine, the needling procedure would feel like nothing more than a cat licking my face.
The doctor also described how this procedure is the 2.0 version of the original microneedling process, because the tool has hollow-bore needles that allow her to infuse active ingredients into the dermis. Translation: it’s essentially microinjecting the face. “We can use hyaluronic acid for plumping and hydration to make skin look more youthful and juicier,” said Dr. Devgan. “A number of other substances can be used to customize results to [help] shrink pores or infuse vitamins and nutrients into the skin, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a blood product derivative, rich in growth factors that ramp up cell production.”
Because this was my first time with in-office microneedling, and PRP involved blood being drawn (more needles!), I decided to stick with the customized cocktail of hyaluronic acid and other potent medical-grade actives. These would give me glowing, super-hydrated results, as well as make my skin appear smoother and plumper.
During the Microneedling Treatment
I settled into the chaise and got ready for the numbing cream application, which took about five minutes to make my face feel slack. After I confirmed that my skin was numb, it was time to begin. I gritted my teeth and waited for serious pain, but relaxed when it never came. As Dr. Devgan repeatedly stamped the tool along the entire surface of my face, I found that it didn’t feel sharp or like punctures at all. Whereas a dermaroller glides over your skin and gives you the sense of touching a cactus, this was different. The stamps are perpendicular to the surface, so that the needles go in deeper, as if you bumped against a rose bush — but the numbing prevented any discomfort.
During the treatment, the extra hyaluronic serum cocktail sat on top of my skin, so every so often, Dr. Devgan would stop to spread it all around. Because of those frustrating lip lines and my cheek redness, she concentrated her stamping efforts there. The entire process took about 30 minutes, and when she was done, she spread the extra serum across my face for a final time so that it would be absorbed well into the dermis before the microchannels healed.
As the numbing cream began to wear off, I looked in the mirror, and saw some redness in my reflection, particularly on my cheeks and chin. This redness typically occurs post-microneedling, as the skin is inflamed and needs a few hours to calm down. I left with instructions not to wash my face for at least four hours to give the cocktail time to absorb into the skin, to skip makeup for one to two days, and to avoid retinols, alpha-hydroxy acids, or any other type of topical treatment that might trigger irritation until the third day. While Dr. Devgan told me that it could take a few days to start seeing my results, I could expect to see a beautiful glow, smoother skin, and a more even tone within a few weeks. Even better, she told me that the smooth, glassy look the treatment provides could last for up to six months.
[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]
The next morning, the flushed appearance had disappeared, and I noticed the lines around my lips weren’t as noticeable from the boost of hyaluronic acid. Over the following days, I saw a lot of improvement: The redness I had pre-microneedling on my cheeks was gone, and my overall tone was brighter and more even — nice enough for me to skip foundation. Overall, I’m beyond happy with how glowing and smooth my skin looks, and I achieved all the results I was hoping for.
Microneedling can alleviate a lot of skin issues, but the most significant benefit I’ve seen is that it really reboots the complexion, making it appear fresher. “One thing that people don’t realize is that the quality of your skin really helps in having a more youthful look,” explained Dr. Devgan. “Microneedling will improve the quality, leaving your skin looking glassy and airbrushed.” Having tried it, I now understand the treatment’s power. And as for that fear of needles? Yes, it’s still there, but this is one type of needle device that won’t make me wince — and that I would gladly try again in a heartbeat.
Complimentary service was provided to the author for the purpose of writing this article.