Skin needling or micro-needling is a concept that was first used in the medical industry. It has now become a proven method of skin rejuvenation, treating a wide range of skin concerns. In this edition, we will discover why it is such a popular treatment and an integral part of the Glow & Skin Iconic Facial.
History of micro-needling
The first recorded use of a micro-needling procedure was in 1905 by German dermatologist Ernst Kromayer to treat scars, birthmarks, and hyperpigmentation. However, it is likely to have been used much earlier than this, as far back as 100 BC, when acupuncture was used to create 'channels' in the skin to allow energy (or Qi) to flow into the skin. Nowadays, acupuncture is used to target specific nervous pathways to stimulate the release of chemicals into the muscle, spinal cord and brain to promote the body's natural healing response.
The devices used in micro-needling treatments today range from home-use patches that impregnate the superficial layer of the skin with serums and vitamins to in-clinic treatments using dermal rollers and needling pens.
So why is skin needling so popular, and how does it improve skin health?
How does micro-needling improve skin health?
Micro-needling is also known as Collagen Induction Therapy or CIT for short. It involves piercing the skin's surface with multiple punctures that create microchannels or pathways. The punctures are made with tiny metal pins that vary in length. By causing controlled, even damage to the surface of the skin, the results from the micro-needling treatment are achieved in two ways.
Firstly, the tiny channels or pathways can allow active skin serums and other essential nutrients to penetrate deeper into the skin and target specific areas.
Secondly, the 'micro wounds' that the needling causes stimulate a wound-healing response. This process sets off a cascade of reactions that ultimately leads to several skin health benefits.
Let's take a closer look at how micro-needling works at a cellular level.
1. Collagen production: The micro-injuries created during the micro-needling treatment trigger collagen production. Collagen is the main protein in the skin that provides structure and support and keeps the skin youthful. As we age, our collagen production rapidly declines. From the age of 20, we produce between 1 to 1.5% less collagen a year! We also produce
more MMPs (Matrix metalloproteinases) which are enzymes responsible for the breakdown and destruction of proteins in our body, including collagen.
This all results in skin ageing and the formation of sagging skin, lines, and wrinkles. Micro-needling stimulates new collagen formation through the wound-healing response. It sounds shocking that we purposely cause damage to the skin, but by doing so in a controlled way with low-level trauma, we can utilise the protective wound healing response to our benefit.
By creating tiny wounds, the skin immediately responds to protect itself and repair the damaged barrier. Whilst this is a complex process, we can simplify it into four main stages.
● Tissue remodelling or maturation
Haemostasis is triggered immediately in response to blood loss or the possibility of blood loss. The blood near the site of the wound becomes 'sticky' and thicker with the release of growth factors, which helps it to 'clot' and form a plug at the site of the wound. These natural growth factors also repair and stimulate new collagen and elastin. Even though superficial skin needling doesn't cause bleeding, the Haemostasis stage will still be triggered.
Inflammation is the second stage of wound healing. Long-term chronic inflammation causes skin ageing, which we see when the skin is exposed to the sun or when illness or stress is present for long periods. But short controlled periods of inflammation, as we see with micro-needling, can benefit the skin's health. Inflammation starts within 24 hours of the wound and lasts four to six days in micro wounds. With inflammation comes an increased blood supply so the skin can look red (erythema), slightly swollen and warm to the touch after treatment. This blood is rich in white blood cells needed to fight any risk of infection and growth factors to stimulate the fibroblasts to produce more collagen than normal.
Proliferation is the third stage, lasting six to twenty-one days after the initial wound. This is the main repair stage of wound healing, where the structure of the extracellular matrix (which makes up the dermis) is restored, giving it more support and firmness. Fibroblasts gather in large numbers around the damaged
skin and actively produce collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, glycoproteins and growth factors.
Tissue remodelling/maturation. This is the fourth and final stage of wound healing and can last long after the injury. During this phase, collagen is continually produced to help strengthen the tissue. The fact that the proliferation and maturation stage can go on long after a micro-needling treatment explains why skin rejuvenation results can take time to be appreciated.
1. Enhanced skin absorption: The microchannels created by the micro-needling temporarily increase the skin's permeability, allowing active skin ingredients to penetrate deeper than they would if just applied topically. This enhances the ingredients' effectiveness, which means a more targeted treatment with quicker results.
· Increased blood supply brings nutrients and oxygen to skin cells, leaving the skin looking brighter and healthier.
· Improves overall skin health, texture, tone and firmness and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
· Due to the increased remodelling and reorganisation of collagen, micro-needling is also recommended for treating acne scarring. The treatment helps break down the scars and forces the skin into repair mode, leaving the skin smoother. It's not just acne scarring that is treated with micro-needling. Stretch marks, raised scars and pigmented scars are ideally suited for treatment.
· Depending on the serums used, micro-needling treatments can also successfully manage pigmentation, age spots and even hair loss.
The benefits of micro-needling are clear, with immediate results that continue improving six to eight weeks after the treatment. This is why it's such an essential step in the Glow & Skin Iconic Facial, making this treatment a number-one favourite with our Iconic facialists.
Word of caution, micro-needling should be performed by a trained professional. Proper aftercare should be followed to ensure the best results and minimise potential risks or side effects.
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