Microneedling for hair loss
Microneedling is a promising area for hair growth with many reporting positive results. It is a cosmetic procedure in which a derma roller is rolled along your scalp to promote hair growth. By causing minor punctures to the skin, collagen production levels increase. This process of cell renewal may help to create new hair growth from the scalp. In this article, we will cover what happens during microneedling and its link to hair growth.
What is microneedling?
Microneedling is where a derma roller is a handheld device with rows of tiny needles. It is recommended that the smallest size of needles should be used for the scalp, around 0.5mm to 1.5mm, though the larger sizes may be used for professional use. The fine needles on the derma rolla pierces your scalp (or areas where you have hair loss) many times and causes microscopic puncture wounds in the skin. You won’t be able to see these wounds with the naked eye. However, you may notice some initial redness or soreness.
The microscopic wounds from the derma roller stimulates collagen and stem cell production, which may help boost hair growth. Microneedling also has other dermatological uses such as reducing acne scars, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. In this article we’ll be focusing on the benefits of microneedling on hair growth.
What happens during microneedling?
Microneedling is a straightforward procedure, and if done properly, has limited risks to the patient. A derma roller is a small device, typically no bigger than your mobile phone, and it contains rows of tiny needles. These needles are placed on a roller, so the needles roll as it passes along your skin. The length of the needles depends on whether you are getting the procedure done by a professional (which we recommend), and we will discuss the benefits of getting microneedling done professionally later in this article. A professional will tend to use a derma roller with longer needles than those you would find available to buy online or in a shop.
Step 1: Before you begin your microneedling procedure, it is important that you thoroughly clean your head and hair. Your microneedling professional will ensure the area is clean before they begin the procedure - they may apply products to clean the treatment area, and may also apply topical anaesthetic to the section of the scalp to reduce pain during the procedure. Microneedling causes microscopic wounds in the skin, and therefore it is important to keep the area clean to reduce the risk of infection.
Step 2: Your microneedling professional will then roll the derma roller along your scalp, and the length of time of rolling will depend on your agreed treatment plan. Typically You may experience some pain or discomfort during the rolling, depending on whether topical anaesthetic was applied to the area beforehand. This will take no longer than 10 minutes and will only go over the same area a few times.
Step 3: As an option, a hair tonic such as minoxidil or a serum may be applied to promote growth. After the procedure is complete, your microneedling professional will ensure the area is clean and may apply topical balm to the treatment area. You may notice some redness in the areas where the derma roller was applied.
Microneedling should be limited to every few weeks to allow the skin heal (1-3 weeks) before going for a repeat procedure. You should consult with your practitioner about this.
Does microneedling cause hair growth?
There are a number of research papers which have explored the connection between microneedling and stimulating hair growth. In a medical study by Dhurat et al, A Randomized Evaluator Blinded Study of Effect of Microneedling in Androgenetic Alopecia: A Pilot Study, a scientific explanation for how microneedling might cause hair regrowth was given, of which we’ve summarised below:
Platelets released from microneeddling are important growth and regulation factors for the hair cycle and hair growth. These are increased when small wounds are made to the skin.
The use of derma rollers triggers the healing process around your scalp. The microscopic puncture wounds caused by microneedles activates the stem cells in the treatment area. Stem cells are your body’s raw materials from which all other cells with specialised functions are generated. As a result, there is an increase in hair growth from the procedure.
The use of derma rollers causes an increased number of copies of hair growth related genes, which may promote hair growth.
The science outlined above helps to connect how microneedling may promote hair growth. You should remember that microneedling does not cause instant hair growth. It can take up to six months for you to fully notice any new hair growth.
Are there any risks to microneedling?
Microneedling is generally considered safe by the medical community. There are some risks which you should be aware of, but remember with any medical procedure there is a level of risk involved.
There are small risks related to the wounds such as redness, pain, and peeling – these should only be temporary while the wounds are healing.
As microneedling creates puncture wounds in the skin, there is a risk of infection. This can be minimised by ensuring the derma roller has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilised before use (your microneedling professional should sterilise this), and keeping your scalp clean after the procedure. You should avoid places like swimming pools while the wounds are still healing, where there may be lots of germs which could exposed the skin.
Some people may experience permanent scars after microneedling. Ensure the correct derma roller size is being used to minimise the wound size.
Microneedling is not recommended for women who are pregnant or blood thinning medication. Speak to your practitioner if you have any pre-existing conditions such as eczema.
As with all medical procedures, we advise that you discuss the benefits and risks fully with your doctor before you proceed. Only they will be able to advise on whether this is the correct treatment for you.
Microneedling and minoxidil
There is some research to suggest that using microneedling and minoxidil together can improve hair growth. Minoxidil (previously known as Rogaine) is the only FDA approved drug to slow and stop hair loss in women. By applying minoxidil immediately after microneedling treatment, some believe the scalp will better at absorb the drug forumla.
A medical study by Dhurat et al, A Randomized Evaluator Blinded Study of Effect of Microneedling in Androgenetic Alopecia: A Pilot Study, compared a group who were treated with both microneedling and minoxidil, with a group who were just treated with minoxidil. In all three measures of hair growth, the study showed that microneedling combined with minoxidil was more effective at promoting hair growth than just minoxidil. Although more research is needed into the combined benefits of microneedling and minoxidil, it is worth discussing with your doctor to determine if it is the correct treatment for you.
How to find a microneedling professional?
Depending on where you live in the world, you may have a large choice of potential microneedling clinics. It is important that you get a licensed microneedling professional, usually a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. Never use an unlicensed professional to carry out the treatment.
When you have found a couple of potential choices, book a consultation with them so you can get more information. Many clinics usually offer a free consultation for microneedling.
During the consultation, a couple of key questions you should ask are:
Is microneedling suitable for me?
How many sessions will I require?
How long will each session be?
What will the total cost be?
Do you have a portfolio of work to look at?
A proper clinic will be able to provide upfront pricing, and they should have a portfolio of previous patients for you to review.
Can I do microneedling at home?
We recommend that you get microneedling treatment done professionally. This minimises the risk of infection as equipment is properly cleaned and sterilised before use, and the procedure is carried out in a sterile environment. The microneedling professional will be able to advise on the optimum frequency of treatment for your hair, and how much rolling is required per treatment. The results will be faster and better as they will be to use longer medical grade needles, which you cannot buy over the counter.
However, microneedling treatment cycles can cost up to $1,000. This depends on how many sessions you require, and where you get the procedure done. Although we do not advise you to do it at home, for some people this may be the only choice they have. We have picked an example of a derma roller for home use, but as advised we do not recommend doing this treatment at home.
Please click below if you want to read the science behind this article.