Skin Needling

Clear Skincare has been performing Skin Needling or collagen induction therapy (CIT) since 2003 to treat acne scars and deep facial lines. Dr Philippa McCaffery, Medical Director and founder of Clearskincare, was trained in the technique of Skin Needling by the Swiss french dermatologist Dr Philippe Simonin, who has been performing Skin Needling for over 20 years.  Dr McCaffery developed the Clear Skincare Skin Roller range, to perform skin needling, after 2 years of research and patient trials.

Skin Needling can safely treat depressed acne scar, hypertrophic surgical scar, borders of skin grafts, chicken pox scars, deep facial lines, wrinkles and pigmented skin.

1. History of Skin Needling 

Skin Needling has been performed for many years, using a variety of instruments, to soften depressed scars and deep facial lines.

Dr Philippe Simonin, a Swiss-french dermatologist, published his results in Baran's Cosmetic Dermatology 1994, but his ground breaking technique, which he named, remained largely unknown to the wider medical community. In his study of 600 patients, he examined results for 2 patient groups - one with Skin Ageing and the other with Old Scars. He performed 10 treatments on all patients.

In the patient group with Skin Ageing, 40% showed significant improvement, 22% moderate improvement and 13% some improvement - as measured by comparative skin imprints. In the patient group with Old Scars, 60% improved with 5-6 treatments. Best results were obtained for old fibrous and depressed scars.

Another pioneer of Skin Needling was Dr Andre Camirand, a Canadian Plastic Surgeon who made a chance observation of improvement in the texture and depression of the scars of some of his face lift patients, who had undergone tattooing for scar camouflage. He experimented with tattooing face lift scars without pigment, and noted improvement in texture and colour. He published an article on his results in JACPS in 1992.

Dr Camirand postulated that hypochromic (depigmented) skin re pigmented through the transplantation of melanocytes (pigment producing skin cells) from normal skin into the hypochromic skin during the needling procedure. He also reported flattening of hypertrophic (overgrown) scars. He performed his needling procedures using a high speed tattoo gun, under local anaesthesia and treated each scar to pinpoint bleeding. He repeated the procedure every 2-8 weeks and no side effects or complications were reported.

2. Making Skin Needling easier

It is possible to obtain good results with ERP for deep depressed scars and deep lines after 10-15 treatment sessions.

However performing ERP is time consuming and requires extreme patience, so during 2003/2004, Clearskincare worked with an Australian instrument designer to develop an affordable, autoclavable medical skin roller and home care rollers that could make Skin Needling easier to perform and accessible to every patient who needed it.

Skin Needling can be safely performed on all skin colours and types. There is no risk of post inflammatory hypo pigmentation or hyper pigmentation (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.

Other distinguishing safety features of Skin Needling include:

  • significantly reduced risk of infection;
  • significantly reduced downtime period for healing; and
  • significantly reduced comparative cost.

3. How Skin Needling with a skin roller works

Skin Needling with a skin roller produces hundreds of tiny channels in the skin (dermal injuries). Each dermal injury triggers the body's natural wound healing response within the skin, producing and depositing new collagen and elastin in the treatment area. Each successive treatment triggers the production and deposition of new collagen and elastin that progressively in-fill (collagen induction) the depressed scars and deep lines. Collagen induction can continue for up to 12 months after a treatment has been performed.

As the dermal layer produces more collagen and elastin, with successive treatments skin becomes firmer, smoother and more elastic, and the complexion becomes and looks more balanced and healthier. Effectively Skin Needling performs a non surgical face lift.

As each individual has different levels and grades of scarring, the amount of time you continue needling varies from user to user. The length of time that you continue rolling is controlled by the size, depth and area of scarring, your ability to produce collagen and elastin and your individual healing time response. Your skin is naturally renewed every 40 days (1 cycle). Results will be noticeable from your Clear Skincare Skin & Scalp Roller after 2 cycles (80 days). Significant results will be evident after 4 to 6 cycles. You should continue rolling until you are happy with the results and feel your scars/lines/wrinkles have infilled sufficiently and your skin tone has evened. Alternatively you can continue to roll indefinitely.

Results vary from person to person, with users experiencing 90% improvement to the scarring and others less than 50%. However all users will see some form of improvement in their scarring, skin texture and tone.

4. Results

In my experience, results vary between patients, with some achieving 90% improvement in scarring and others less than 50%. However, all patients achieve some improvements.

The most exciting feature of Skin Needling is its safety advantages. Skin Needling can be safely performed on Asian and darker skins, as well as skins that have been previously lasered or had dermabrasion treatments.

When compared to laser resurfacing or clinical microdermabrasion, the benefits of skin needling are:

  • There is no risk of hypo or hyper pigmentation (patchy lightening or darkening of the skin);
  • No risk of infection (as long as the roller is used by one person and hygiene instructions are followed);
  • Significantly reduced downtime and pain (no downtime or pain with home care rollers);
  • Results are permanent; and
  • A fraction of the cost.

Generally, deep ice pick acne scars and deep facial lines will need to be treated by a medical professional using a medical face roller in combination with the home care rollers and other treatments. However, not as deep wider acne scars and other depressed scars, ageing, sun damaged and pigmented skin can be treated using home care rollers.

Skin Needling can be performed for whole face rejuvenation, and when combined with tretinoin, hydroquinone and or copper peptides, delivers nearly equivalent results to laser resurfacing with a significantly reduced risk profile. It can also be regularly repeated as a patient ages to replenish collagen and elastin, there is no limit to the number of procedures/treatments undertaken.

5. A better skin roller

In 2005, to meet the needs of Clear Skincare's patients, Clear Skincare developed the only home care skin roller range available that are designed to be reusable for 12 months. The Clearskincare Roller Range represents 2 years of research, design, development and patient trials to bring an effective, affordable and reusable skin roller to clinicians and the public.

The Clear Skincare home-care Roller range is unique, they are constructed 192 of the finest quality surgical stainless steel needles mounted in the highest quality grade plastic rollers and handle. Used daily and cared for as directed your Clear Skincare home-care roller will last for 12 months.

Clear Skincare designed the Clear Skincare Roller range to maximise results for treating acne scars and all indented scars, lines and wrinkles, stretch marks as well as thinning hair (alopecia) whilst minimising downtime and pain. Maximising results whilst minimising downtime and pain is achieved by the careful selection of needle length to target the specific areas of the epidermis and dermis to achieve these goals. To achieve these desired results needle length and gauge are the most critical factors when selecting skin rollers. Clear Skincare rollers use 0.25 mm gauge needles, the thickest usable needle gauge to stimulate maximum collagen and elastin whilst not causing scarring. Thicker needles will cause scarring, unnecessary pain and bleeding, thinner needles will not stimulate enough collagen or elastin to be effective.

The Clear Skincare Skin & Scalp Roller uses 192, 0.75 mm needle length to target the upper dermis to stimulate collagen and elastin and significantly improve the absorption of skin products. The 0.75 mm needle length was chosen to target the average depth of the upper dermis in both male and female skins on the face, scalp and body. A shorter needle will not pierce the upper dermis, longer needles will cause unnecessary pain and bleeding. The Clear Skincare Skin & Scalp Roller can be used for treating acne scars, lines & wrinkles, stretchmarks as well as thinning hair.  

It should also be noted that when choosing needle length for maximum results, the longer the needle the quicker they become blunt. A 1.5 mm needle will last only 10-12 treatments, it will also be painful (you will need to use some form of topical anaesthetic) and bloody.  A 1 mm will be the same but not quite to the same degree (it will last 1.5 to 3 months max). The pain and excessive bleeding inhibits users from performing effective treatments on themselves. The 0.75 mm needle was chosen because it is long enough to stimulate collagen and elastin, proof is that it causes spot bleeding meaning that it has passed through the epidermal/dermal junction and is thereby stimulating the upper dermis creating collagen and elastin, yet short enough not to cause excessive pain or major bleeding thereby inhibiting the user from effectively performing the treatment on themselves. The 0.75 mm needles of the Clear Skincare Skin & Scalp Roller are just the right length to maximise your results whilst being durable and able to last for 12 months with daily use.

The Clear Skincare Face Roller uses 192, 0.25 mm surgical stainless steel needles mounted on a durable high grade plastic roller and handle to pierce the stratum corneum and increase the absorption of skin products. The stratum corneum is located near the surface of the skin and consists of flattened dehydrated dying keratinocytes (skin cells) that provides a semi impermeable layer that protects the underlying skin and organs from the environment. The majority of creams, lotions and serums applied to the skin is trapped on the surface by the stratum corneum. Products designed for treating the dermis such as Vitamin A and C and copper peptides to be effective need to pass through the stratum corneum. The Clear Skincare Face Roller uses 192, 0.25 mm needle to pierce the stratum corneum, this is the average depth of the stratum corneum in male and female skins on the face, neck and decolletage. Shorter needles will not be long enough to pierce the stratum corneum, longer needles will cause unnecessary pain and bleeding. If you are using Vitamin A and C, copper peptides or any product designed for the dermis you should be using them in combination with the Clear Skincare Face Roller.

It is Clear Skincare's aim to provide effective and affordable solutions for all affected by acne, acne scarring, scarring, pigmentation, sun damage, ageing skin and hair loss.