What you need to know about microneedling and hair loss
As a cosmetic procedure that has taken the beauty world by storm, microneedling is now a therapy that you can use to treat hair loss. The process involves using a device called a dermaroller, which features small fine needles that make tiny puncture holes in the skin. In response to this method, your body begins producing some of the chemical factors required to make your scalp thrive. The practice of using microneedling to reduce hair loss and encourage hair growth is in its infancy. How useful it is will depend on the type of loss you’re experiencing, as well as the approach you take. Understanding more about the treatment will help you determine whether it’s right for you.
Microneedling for hair loss treatment
Microneedling is a type of cosmetic treatment that addresses various effects of aging. It’s also nicknamed skin needling because of its effects on increasing collagen production in the skin.It involves the use of a skin roller with small needles that cause minor skin injuries.While used as an anti-aging skin treatment, microneedling may also be a method of treatment for hair loss. There’s even evidence that it can help hereditary hair loss, also known as alopecia.The same process of creating wounds in the skin is also thought to regenerate the health of the hair follicles. It’s thought that this can result in new hair growth, or perhaps thicken thinning hair.
Microneedling for hair loss benefitsMicroneedling first gained its reputation as a scar treatment during the 1990s. Since then, it’s been studied as a potential alternative for thinning hair and hereditary hair loss.Aside from collagen production in the skin, it’s thought that microneedling can also help induce stem cells in the scalp that lead to hair growth.Microneedling may also promote the absorption of hair growth products, such as minoxidil(Rogaine). Another study explored the potential benefits of microneedling when used with corticosteroids to reduce hair follicle inflammation from alopecia areata.
How it works
During microneedling, your doctor uses several needles, ranging between 0.25 and 3 millimeters long. They’re all contained in a handheld device. Also called a roller, the device is rolled along the treatment area, creating small injuries.Unlike other treatments that target your skin’s surface, the needles used in the rollers extend to the middle layer of skin. As these microinjuries heal, your skin produces more collagen and fibers. It also helps to strengthen the hair follicles.A doctor will apply a topical anesthetic to your scalp about 45 minutes prior to treatment. This helps to reduce any pain you may feel.The actual procedure time can vary based on treatment area, but may take as little as 30 minutes. After the scalp microneedling is completed, the doctor may apply a soothing balm or serum to the area to alleviate inflammation and discomfort.
Does microneedling for hair loss hurt?
It’s natural to wonder whether a treatment that involves the use of a ‘controlled injury’ is going to cause pain. Few studies focus on patient-reported pain during this procedure. However, anecdotal tales from across the Internet indicate that it’s sometimes painful, but is often worth the results.
As microneedling for hair loss targets the epidermis, it also interacts with the nerve endings that are responsible for pain transmission. However, you can avoid excessive amounts of pain by using your dermaroller lightly rather than applying too much pressure. Most of those who do report pain also state that it is short-lived, and that the benefits of hair growth outweigh the pitfalls of noxious sensations.
Side effects of microneedling on the head
Microneedling itself can cause bruises, oozing from the wounds, and skin irritation. There’s also a risk that the wounds caused by the needles may scar.The area may be red and inflamed for a few days following the procedure. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most side effects diminish within five days after your treatment.Speak with your doctor before you consider this treatment if you:
have a history of acne, eczema, or open wounds
have a condition that slows healing, such as diabetes
are on blood thinners or other medications
Microneedling also isn’t recommended for people who are pregnant.Using microneedling before minoxidil can increase the absorption of the treatment. However, this can also increase the risk of side effects from the minoxidil, such as:
Your scalp may be more sensitive to the sun after treatment. Wearing sunscreen every day is recommended. A hat can also help protect your scalp when outdoors.Another risk of microneedling on your head is the possibility of infection. While the needles are small, they’re still inflicting wounds.You’ll need to follow your aftercare instructions carefully to prevent infection. This often involves keeping the area clean for a few days, as well as using antiseptics to ward off bacteria.You may be at an increased risk for infection if you’re in poor overall health, or if you have a history of frequent infections.
Dermaroller at-home treatment
To offset costs and time commitments, some people choose to purchase dermarollers to self-administer microneedling treatments at home.According to one company, Dermapen, at-home sessions can cost as little as a third of getting microneedling done from a professional.There are certainly some downsides to at-home dermaroller treatments though. These include:
not knowing the right size needles to use to get the most out of your treatment
it’s hard to see certain parts of your own scalp, such as the back of your head
not being able to target the desired areas as well as a professionalt
These factors can make your treatment less effective compared with seeing a practitioner.A licensed microneedling practitioner will also know how to help you minimize side effects from treatment. It can be difficult to assess risks and treat any complications on your own — you could end up seeing a doctor anyway if you do develop any side effects.While it’s tempting to buy your own dermaroller, it’s much safer to leave these devices in the hands of a licensed and experienced professional for your hair loss treatment.
Which microneedling mm is best for hair growth
Microneedling dermarollers are available in a range of sizes. As we’ve already mentioned, dermatologists recommend the use of a device with .25mm needles. There’s evidence to suggest that choosing this size helps to absorb any topical agents you use alongside the roller. We’ll discuss said agents in a moment.
However, if you want to promote hair growth after making your scalp healthier through the use of a derma roller and topical agents, you should double the needle size. Alternating between the two sizes may work to your advantage. While the .25mm needle allows for topical agent absorption, the .50mm promotes stronger hair growth after the agent has a chance to work its magic. Try experimenting with different sizes and routines to see which is best for your hair loss.
How to use microneedling for hair growth
First of all, you need to space your microneedling sessions apart by two to four weeks. Using a dermaroller on a daily basis isn’t effective, and it will likely make your hair loss worse. The aim is to cause a controlled injury that has the opportunity to heal, not to inflict one that consistently worsens.
Before using microneedling for hair growth, ensure your scalp and remaining hair are wet. Wetting your hair reduces the chance of it tangling with the roller, which then allows the needles to work without disruption. If the hair does tangle, you may miss patches and diminish the efficacy.
When using the dermaroller, make sure you move in a variety of directions. Start with horizontal, then diagonal, and then vertical. Opting for all three directions ensures you don’t miss a patch of skin, allowing you to see the full benefits of collagen production. A word of caution: only use light to moderate pressure. Applying the needles too firmly doesn’t result in a controlled injury.