MicroNeedling: It hurts but it might help!

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If you’re in the mood for a spooky Halloween post this October, look no further! Warning: not for the squeamish or those who think microdermabrasion is painful. Pansies.

I have now completed two sessions of MicroNeedling and received so many questions about it from my instagram story on @elizadiaries that I thought I would give more details here. For those in Houston, I also list where to go in town at the bottom of this post.

So, what is MicroNeedling? Well, it is a torture method that freaking hurts. That said, my second session was not as unbearable as the first and that may be due to the fact that I knew what to expect. It also may be due to the fact that I did a few prep steps differently the second time.

Maybe not the best representation, but see the little shadows on my forehead and upper lip? Those are dark spots called melasma.

MicroNeedling is a facial treatment that promises to reduce wrinkles, aid in the healing of facial scarring, and help with hyper pigmentation. With the help of a motorized device covered with tiny, shallow needles, an aesthetician ruthlessly pokes tiny holes all over your face that work to damage the skin and encourage new growth. This partly involves cueing your cells to create more collagen for repair. Collagen is a protein in our bodies found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, the digestive system and tendons. It gives our skin strength and elasticity and works to replace dead skin cells. Collagen is the best!

Fine, here is an obligatory set of unflattering pics with no makeup, no filter, and overhead lighting inside the ladies room at Whole Foods. There. See the spots on forehead and lip?!

The treatment has been called “collagen induction therapy”, “skin needling” or “skin pen” as well. This last moniker is too cutesy for what it really is. It reminds me of a tattoo parlor in College Station, Texas called “Poke You Tattoo” where I know a few Aggie girls paid good money to have a requisite sorority girl/young life girl foot tattoo (white ink optional). If you give a tattoo salon a cutesy name like that, you will trick customers into believing that their tattoo will not hurt as bad, or at least that’s the impression I got. See, on the good ‘ole Drag (Guadalupe Street – just opposite the west side of the University of Texas campus) in Austin, Texas, the closest tattoo place was called “El Diablo Rojo” when I was an undergrad. With a name that translates to The Red Devil, I was wise to stay far far way. Also, my father would literally melt into a fiery ball of flames way scarier than any red devil if I ever got a tattoo. But I digress.

Microneedlers Anonymous.

I first tried MicroNeedling out of curiosity. I consider daily skin care regiments and monthly facials my hobbies. I love facial products and new skin tricks and treatments. Throughout the years I have needed different approaches to skincare, and right now I am staring down the joys of aging into a new decade and my sister’s wedding in less than 70 days (she updates us regularly). From ten years of birth control and my bouts with pregnancy, my skin really berated me for all the hormonal changes to my body. That said, I would do it all again! #LittleMissEmmaBean

Thanks to the roller coaster of hormones my little face with no chin to speak of has been through, I have dark melasma around my upper lip, forehead, and it seems to be migrating to my T-zone. I actually plan to involve laser therapy in beating these betchy blotches back with a stick. . . er, with a laser, but that’s a story for another post. Thanks to #HurricanHarvey, the only laser place I know of is still dealing with water damage.

My first time with the needle devil. I actually cried and felt so tired when it was over. But I am sticking with it! (heh, heh. Apologies for all pen related puns.)

So, if you make an appointment for skin needling, the dermatologist’s office will give you a numbing cream to apply to your face about an hour before treatment. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. After the trauma of my first session, I spent a good 5 minutes massaging the cream all over my face, into my hairline, down my neck and practically in my mouth and ears to make sure no patch was left unprotected.

This is an unscientific observation, but I also happened to do about 30 minutes of cardio the morning of my second treatment, a few hours prior, and I have a theory that the added boost to my circulation may have played a part in keeping my pain level more tolerable during my second go. Further, if you use any heavy-hitting retinol products or acne treatment, cease and desist about a week before to give your skin a break. Not using them? Stay tuned for a future post!

Once on the table, the aesthetician will give your face a good cleaning and apply a hyaluronic acid serum to keep the needles running smooth. Gulp. The actual time with needles on your face does not take more than a few minutes, but the hour it takes the numbing cream to activate before is crucial.

Much better this time.

I legitimately recommending you bring a stress ball or maybe ask for a towel you can mangle in your hands during the treatment. Do. not. chew. gum. While on the table and if you get jumpy with a decaf latte, skip the caffeine until after the procedure. Calm yourself with big steady breaths and make the aesthetician talk to you about inane subjects to pass the time. Examples: bird migration, Scottish nicknames, best spot for ramen, will Anna Nicole Smith ever receive the tribute she deserves. . . stuff like that.

When you leave the office, plan to stay indoors and avoid sweating or excessive heat for at least 24 hours. Your face may feel tender and even have a few scabs on it. Do not pick them. Be gentle with your skin. All will heal and fade in the next day or two. Resume regular skincare regiments that night and for the love, wear sunscreen! For me, the next few days yielded complements on my skin partly due to the tiny touch of swelling, which plumps fine lines and smooths skin tone. There is not much downtime but I was more aware of facial tenderness for a day or two.

Does it work? Time will tell. I hope to continue treatments and post results, existent or nonexistent, here. With my lovely aesthetician’s guidance I have a plan of attack that involves derma planing monthly and adding a MicroNeedling treatment every other month. I could not physically deal with micro hell needles more often than that, though if you upped your sessions to one a month you would see faster results. I have read that these appointments with el diablo pen may not yield results until after as many as six sessions. Stay tuned.

Has anyone else braved the needle? Let me know in the comments section. All tips are welcome!

Links to help you fall in to the internet:

Flawless Face Med Spa. This little medical office in Montrose, Houston offers many facial and beauty services at a great price! I have been at the mercy of Miss Diane, one of their aestheticians, for years.

Microneedling 411. Watch the video at your own risk. If you are in to slasher films this is for you!

Face your face: What is collagen? What is melasma?

Wear sunscreen, or else! This is the one I’ve used for years and annually give my family members in their stockings at Christmas. Nothing spreads good cheer like a zinc-based sun barrier!

Nobody pays me to post these recommendations, fyi! Have you tried this trend? Want to? I would love to hear what you think or answer more questions in the comments! #DearElizaDiaries

Please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!