Microneedling

Microneedling is a treatment that has been used in dermatology for decades now. Its main application is in the treatment of facial acne scars, burn scars, and in the treatment of acne, stretch-marks and in general for the regeneration and rejuvenation of the skin. The treatment can be administered in isolation or in combination with other medications or blood plasma. In recent years this therapy has also found an application in the treatment of hair loss.

What is a dermaroller?

The dermaroller and the dermapen are devices with a large number of needles which can be of varying lengths and therefore penetrate the skin to a greater or lesser depth. The length of the needles varies between 0.5 and 4 mm. Running the dermaroller over the skin, or using the dermapen, which is more like a stamp, causes microtrauma of the skin which can prompt local growth factors in the skin to produce collagen and other growth factors.

Microneedling and hair loss

Several studies have shown this type of therapy to be very successful in treating androgenic alopecia, alopecia areata and scarring alopecia. Local growth factors released from the tissues surrounding the follicle have a stimulating effect on the hair’s growth centres, and the release of these factors by causing micro trauma stimulates re-establishment of the normal growth cycle of the hair, improves density and increases the thickness of the hair. This also stimulates the hair’s stem cells.

The procedure

The procedure itself takes around 15 minutes or so. After administering local anaesthetic to increase patient comfort during the procedure, the dermaroller or dermapen is passed several times over the region affected by hair loss. Micro trauma needs to be caused, and minimal bleeding seen on the surface of the scalp. For the treatment to be effective, the needles of the roller need to penetrate the dermis to a certain depth. After the procedure there is no pain nor swelling, and the hair can be washed the following day.

Combination with other treatments

Microneedling can be done independently, in which case it is done once weekly. A dermaroller can even be obtained for home use, but these usually have more shallow penetration and thus weaker stimulation. The procedure is successfully combined with minoxidil lotion and laser therapy. In our clinic we most commonly use it in combination with PRP therapy or Pure Hair Grafting. Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of microneedling. It just needs to be used for the right indications, with the right needle length, using the proper technique or in a suitable combination with some other therapy. It is used for men in the early stages and women in all stages of hair loss.

Dr Gorana Kuka is an author of the most recent paper on microneedling, published in the prestigious Journal of Drugs in Dermatology in April 2017.