We receive an on-going stream of correspondence from people asking us if the dermaroller (skin needling) is painful to use. Many people have seen you tube clips of dermaroller treatments showing practitioners bleeding the skin excessively and assume that all treatments including home dermaroller treatments must therefore be painful to be effective.
Why dermaroller use does not have to be painful.
There is absolutely no evidence that using painful more traumatic dermaroller techniques lead to better results. Results are dependent on the needles reaching the correct depth to penetrate the epidermis into the dermis and therefor stimulate collagen induction. This however can be done using a number of techniques rather than simply using the roller intensely once every 6 weeks to heavily bleed the skin and create larger scale trauma. (It is rewarding to note that since we started saying this several years ago some of our competitors are slowly changing their stance and we have even noticed the word natural creeping into their treatment descriptions)
White Lotus takes many of its treatment techniques from the field of acupuncture, the earliest form of skin needling. Anyone who has seen an acupuncturist will know that a good acupuncturist is far less painful than a learner. This is because the quicker you can pass the needles through the skin the less painful it is. As pain receptors are designed to be early warning systems alerting us to danger to our bodies there are more located on the very surface of the skin.
The surface of the skin is of course where we need the most warning as it is a bit late to be warned when something has already passed through the skin to deeper parts of the body. For this reason if you can pass an acupuncture needle very quickly through this level of the skin it becomes less painful. To facilitate these tubes called guide tubes are now generally used with acupuncture needles. The needle sits inside these tubes and is simply tapped on the end which automatically inserts the needle up 1 mm into the skin so dramatically reducing the pain involved with acupuncture needle insertion.
Skin needling devices such as the dermaroller of course have much thinner smaller needles than an acupuncture needle but some of the principles remain the same. The faster the needles are past over the skin the less painful the treatment becomes. Combine this with the correct pressure and needle lengths and most of our clients report that skin needling becomes quite painless. Most report that it tingles in the area rather than being painful.
By making skin painless we can avoid the use of we can avoid the use of numbing creams. Although these creams are considered quite safe by most authorities they have been associated with several health problems and in rare cases death so if possible we still suggest people avoid them. At White Lotus our philosophy has always been to take the minimum risks possible to achieve the anti aging results desired. There are times when these creams are worth the risk such as for surgeons treating burn scars with dermarollers but these are the exception rather than the rule. Generally they are unnecessary.
The scientific evidence that skin needling can be painless
Our assertion that skin needling can be painless is supported by some early scientific evidence on the subject. In 2001 Kaushik et al carried out a small trial to determine if microneedles are perceived as painless by human subjects. Microneedle arrays of 150ï¿½m length, were inserted into the skin of 12 subjects and compared to pressing a flat surface against the skin (negative control) and inserting a 26-gauge hypodermic needle into the skin surface (positive control). Subjects were unable to distinguish between the painless sensation of the flat surface and that caused by microneedles (1). It would be interesting to see more trials on this in the future but at this point the evidence seems to support what we have found in clinic that skin needling can be painless, however the right techniques must be used.
Some tips to making skin needling less painful.
- Roll quickly across the skin. As discussed above the quicker the needles pass through the skin the less painful the treatment will be.
- Buy a good quality dermaroller. Poor quality rollers often purchased on Ebay often have blunt or bent needles. These will drag across the skin and cause tiny tears that create much more pain.
- Do not use too much pressure. Good quality dermarollers will use the rolling action to naturally insert the needles and excessive pressure simply causes more pain without increasing effectiveness.
- Never buy dermarollers that come in tubes for home use. Taking the dermarollers out of the tube nearly always bends the needles on the outside of the roller making the roller more painful.
To view good quality dermarollers please follow this link
Kaushik S, Hord AH, Denson DD, McAllister DV, Smitra S, Allen MG, Prausnitz MR. Lack of pain associated with microfabricatedmicroneedles. Anesth Analg. 2001 Feb;92(2):502-4.