Skin needling is taking the skin care world by storm, with mixed results.
Some clients are seeing phenomenal skin changes, while others are seeing disastrous losses in texture, tone and even a worsening of existing skin conditions. But why are some people getting such amazing outcomes and others not?
Several factors come into play and we will outline a few of them here.
The quality of the device used. A clinic can choose to pay as little as $100 for the device that inserts hundreds of channels into the skin, or as much as $10,000 for a top of the line automated device pre-loaded with serum. The price reflects patents on technologies such as digital programming, bluetooth capability allowing the device software to be updated as new data emerges about the best patterns, depths and styles of application; even quality of casing matters, a cheap casing being easily worn down with sanitation procedures and quickly becoming impossible to sanitize and posing a higher infection risk. The engines powering the needles vary in quality, and with use a cheaper engine will no longer oscillate as smoothly, leading to potential needle tearing of the skin rather than clean insertion and removal.
Quality of needle cartridges used. Good devices have good quality needle cartridges which cost up to 400% more for a clinic to purchase. But a cheap cartridge is risky. Needles all look alike to the naked eye, but put them under a microscope and you’ll see a cheaply manufactured needle is not polished: it looks serrated, much like the cuticle of a hair, with scales along it’s length. This doesn't matter on insertion, but upon removal will cause microscopic rips through the tissue. It’s like pushing a whisk into a cooked cake and pulling it out, rather than a polished knife. Unwanted side effects can include post inflammatory hyper pigment, sensitivity, or inflammation and dryness that takes extended periods of time to resolve. Client reware: ask them to show you the cartridge and the branding on each packet to ensure you are receiving an authentic cartridge and not a dangerous knock-off. It’s not acceptable to have a good brand device and then put cheaper cartridges in it to save money, it is a risk to your skin.
Who is performing the treatment for you? There’s no law in Australia that says who can do this treatment. Your car sales man can do it. Your local wax salon can decide it’s a great money-spinner and they can start doing it. Are they the best, most qualified, most conscientious people to be doing it? They may be lovely, but I strongly recommend you choose an operator who chose skin as her first, primary career choice. To understand skin requires understanding of the whole body. To keep up with the technological developments in the skin industry is a lifetime commitment, and will take the lion’s share of a persons professional development. You want to know your service provider is qualified, passionate, has ongoing professional development at play, has a commitment to both their career, your skin and to the clinic they are in. If you come back next month, will that person be there to followup on the work they did? Choose carefully, not just a clinic but a therapist specifically who can follow through on your results and aftercare.
Are you prepared with adequate topical nutrition? To get good results your skin must be saturated to ideal levels with nutrition. You have to eat well, and apply topical nutrients at the location they will be required, to ensure they are present when called upon to repair.
Skin must first be prepared with nutrition to a point of basic health, before being asked to INCREASE it’s division, growth and output. After all, you wouldn’t respond well if your manager asked you to do more work, with the same resources, would you? You’d burn out and quit. Skin is the same.
Are you stocked with aftercare products that will not hurt you? It took a long time for skincare to be formulated that is designed especially for application after skin needling. This is because originally it was thought that all skincare that is good, is even better when it’s put deeper in the skin. That’s now been truly disproven, as we see the negative outcomes clients get when they use regular skincare after skin needling.
Products formulated for use on a non-needled, intact, everyday skin have got one key factor built into their design: the formulator wants them to get past the barrier that is your skin, and get in. This is hard to achieve, so they’re only ever going to get a short way in. But put that same formula on a needled skin with holes in it, and the product ends up much deeper, where it was never designed to be. It can then penetrate even further thanks to the formulation that was trying to get it deeper initially, and cause something called granuloma scarring.
We see this every week, as clients have skin needling elsewhere, get super-average results, then come to us. We put them under a diagnostic light and we see pinpoints of white tissue. This is hard, tiny knots of scars, that leave the skin rigid, inflexible and eventually ugly.
On a white skin this may not show up on the surface for decades. On a black skin this will be seen as white or darker dots. On all skins the effect is of a face that looks alright at first glance, but is somehow pixelated, like a low-quality photograph.
It is not the desired outcome, and is representative of serious harm that has been done to the basement membrane and tissue form.
Only in some cases can it be reversed, in most cases it is a permanent unwanted change.
So what skincare is safe?
Skincare used after needling should come directly from the company who makes the skin needling device, be formulated especially for skin with holes in it (aka recently needled!), and contain variations of ingredients suitable for skin in this condition. There are many examples of skincare ingredients which the consumer thinks are the same as one another - vitamin C is a great example.
The consumer picks up vitamin C and thinks I will buy a cheaper C and it will be the same. But Vitamin C is an umbrella term for a multitude of options used in formation. Is it L-ascorbic, ascorbic, is it Stay-C 50, or some other patented option which a consumer isn’t going to understand?
You must ONLY apply skincare recommended for you by the clinic you trust with your skin.
How will I know if I should trust the clinic I visit?
First of all look out for clinics where skin needling is sold as the only answer to the universe. It’s wonderful, in fact it’s a top seller in all good skin clinics, and it certainly has some things over light based technologies such as an ability to be used right over the lids, through the hairline, on the labia, basically anywhere you have skin. It doens’t use heat, so it’s an option on darker skins precluded from some types of laser. But it is NOT the one and only answer to all your woes, it’s a part of a process, and it is just a tool. In the hands of the right service provider it’s a precision tool, in the hands of an idiot it’s a baseball bat.
Look for a clinic who wants to sight your skincare before needling you. It’s not enough to ask what you use - a conscientious operator will want to SEE it, because plenty of clients will lie about what they’re using just to access this seeming wonder-treatment.
Look for a clinic who asks a lot of questions about your skins history, health and your overall health and lifestyle.
Listen for questions about the future - what are your plans, your expectations, where are you going tomorrow? What is your lifestyle? All this affects how you will pull up afterwards.
Seek real answers to your questions. If you ask something & are put off with a bluff answer, ask again. A true skin therapist will answer in a way that satisfies you, or they will tell you they don’t know and ask someone else. It’s okay for them to seek advice from others in the clinic, but it’s not okay for them to pretend to know it all, that’s dangerous.
Seek google reviews. We are living in an era of ‘best-of’ lists paid for by PR companies, of local review platforms where owners can pay to remove negative comments, even clinic booking softwares where a negative view can simply not be approved for publishing. The only reliable indicator of a clinics performance in this era is Google reviews. They cannot possibly be controlled by a the business owner and it’s impossible to remove one.
That said, a few negative reviews can often show you they’re real, as nobody pleases everyone all the time. Look for a trend, for repeat reviews and for real detail.