Getting The Glow Part II: Microneedling for Collagen Synthesis, Cell Turnover & Scar Removal

A dermaroller boasts 540 millimetre fine needles!

This time last week I shared my experiences of a cosmetic acupuncture session with the wonderful Athena Giralea, in addition to the reasoning behind it of course. Find that post here.

This week we progressed & dived into the world of microneedling to regenerate & replenish the skin surface (in combination with more cosmetic acupuncture because it’s amazing) & so of course I will now do exactly the same with this incredible therapy!

So buckle in chaps & let’s talk eternal youth! (or as close to it as we’re going to get….!)

Our skin is an incredible organ, I’ve said before that I don’t feel we pay enough attention to quite how wonderful & hardworking it is. When we look at its surface we will absolutely see evolution in its integrity over time & this is due to something called our cell turnover rate. When we are in our 20’s this could be between 14-21 days, meaning that every couple of weeks or so we shed our facial skin cells & they are replaced with fresh new ones. It is this that will contribute to that youthful glow we vaguely remember not fully appreciating when we had it.

As we advance through life this rate of turnover slows. When we get into our 30’s we may be looking at 28 days, in our 40’s-50’s we’re getting towards 45-60 days, & by the time we’re into our 50’s-60’s this can be around the 60-90 day mark. This means we can see an increased tendency towards dryness, less elasticity & more areas of damage, & that would be in combination with a less efficient production of things like collagen within the skin itself (I describe this more in my previous post).

We can however slow the rate of that decline by making a number of positive choices. Eating a vibrantly colourful diet rich in natural, unprocessed foods floods the body with antioxidants which will preserve our skin’s integrity, wearing sun protection is hugely important as again UV rays cause oxidative damage & thus age us, avoiding toxins as much as possible (stopping smoking if you do can be transformative!), exercising, using high quality, natural skincare products & staying well hydrated also being tremendously beneficial examples.

The next thing we can turn to of course are therapies that stimulate the body to regenerate itself more effectively & that is exactly what microneedling (or dermarolling as it’s sometimes called) will do.


WHAT IS IT?

So as shown in the picture above a dermaroller can be a small handheld device that you or a therapist rolls over the face. You can also find electric ones which are slightly different & I will explain where/when this may used instead in a second.

The basis behind microneedling is to create a number of minuscule punctures all over the skin surface, this then causes the body to flood the area with regenerating substances – collagen & growth factors, resulting in a smoothed, plumped & fresh complexion as the old cells will also be sloughed off & replaced with new. In terms of the penetration depth the needles come in a range from 0.25-1mm for use on the face, a depth of up to 3mm can be used elsewhere on the body but as the facial skin is more delicate this would cause excessive damage if applied here. And that is an incredibly important point – handheld dermorollers should not cause bleeding, many YouTube videos will show relatively aggressive use of these pieces of equipment resulting in raw, red features – this is not correct!

To scan back to the electric versions for a sec however these are slightly different & would be used on something like deep scarring. Unlike the version I show above they have a flat head & are more like a pen, this means the needles can be slightly longer & penetrate deeper into the epidermis (up to 2.5mm) but this is OK as they are under more close control. If working on deep acne scars for example it may be that some bleeding occurs but as I say this will under controlled circumstances & therefore not a concern. Depending on the individual & their particular issues a therapist may use a combination of cosmetic acupuncture & microneedling, firstly lifting the scar with acupuncture & then using a dermaroller/pen, but as I said this would be an individualised protocol.


WHAT DOES A TREATMENT INVOLVE?

STEP 1 – A LITTLE NUMB

To begin Athena gently removed my small amount of make up & then applied a thin layer of anaesthetic cream to lightly numb my face. We were using a 1mm handheld dermaroller & it’s not that it would be painful but there can be an element of discomfort. The idea is not to entirely numb the face as you do want to be stimulating the nervous system to respond & for the body to know that ‘assault’ is happening as this is what will trigger the response we are looking for. Whilst this was on for 10 minutes she popped needles into my hands, feet & ears targeting points of detoxification & overall energy balance as I mentioned I’d been having some particularly busy & long days!

STEP 2 – LET’S ROLL

Once the cream had done its work we were off, as I said it’s not a painful experience & it shouldn’t be. The roller is used in a light feathering motion rather than a harsh scrub, & is taken in numerous directions to maximise on the number of tiny punctures created. The more of these we make, the more little pores for the wonderful mask & serum to penetrate through, & of course the more onslaught the body has to counter & so the more regenerated my face would be!

In total the rolling probably took just under 10 minutes & covered the face, hairline & décolletage. I felt some light tingling & warmth as Athena worked but nothing horrible uncomfortable.

STEP 3 – SERUM, NEEDLES, MASK & MEDITATE

Yep as soon as the rolling was done Athena applied an intense serum with Hyaluronic Acid, numerous vitamins, amino acids, peptides & all manner of things my skin just wanted to soak up! As I said those tiny punctures obviously mean this is more rapidly absorbed & I could almost feel the rush of those things entering my skin. She then popped a select number of acupuncture needles in, targeting a couple of the deeper facial lines, before layering on 1 of her decadent sheet masks which was massaged in with a jade roller.

I was then fully relaxed, my skin was quenched with all manner of wonderful things & to maximise on the experience Athena popped on a guided meditation practice for me to follow – true bliss indeed!

STEP 4 – MOISTURISER & MASSAGE

After 15 minutes or so of floating off on cloud 9 the mask was removed & the needles taken out. As the skin is relatively exposed at this point it is extremely important to apply a good quality SPF so within the base cream that Athena then massaged in to my glowing complexion there was plenty of sun protection (& she advises continuing to use at least SPF 30 in the absence of make up wherever possible for a good 3 days post treatment, a SPF of at least 15 or above being a generally advised daily option).

And this would ring true when it comes to caring for your skin after a a session – it is best not to exfoliate for a day or 2 afterwards, to simply wash the face with water & then apply an intense moisturiser, whilst generally being aware that your skin has that increased permeability so will suck up all & everything you apply to it.

The intensity of the treatment with those deeper needles means this would be appropriate as a once monthly session for most people, but I explain how this can be topped up at home if desired below.

STEP 5 – POST TREATMENT

Having expected my face to be red I was surprised to find it wasn’t at all, well perhaps a teeny bit pink but nothing over the top. It did feel warm however & I was aware of it that evening, I also felt rather thirsty (no surprises here) so actively increased the amount of water I was having just as I had done after the acupuncture session the previous week.

I showered as normal but left the creams Athena had applied on until just before going to bed when I washed my face with water & applied 2 coats of my usual Dr Hasuchka Night Serum (the first disappeared so fast I felt it needed another!). I also felt incredibly tired but as Athena had described this is entirely normal – each puncture is an ‘attack’ & your autonomic nervous system responds to each 1, so being wiped out is not surprising at all. Plus the acupuncture is incredibly relaxing.

The next morning the heat from my face had faded, there was no redness & my skin surface feels incredibly smooth. As this is working on that cell regeneration Athena mentioned that over the next couple of days my skin might appear dryer – this being the old cells coming away. My plan is to simply avoid make up as much as possible to prevent blocking those pores, lather myself with a light SPF, hydrate as though it were going out of fashion & eagerly anticipate the week post session mark as that is when I should see peak results. Oh & then we will repeat in a month’s time with a cosmetic acupuncture top up in 2 weeks, I cannot wait!


DOING IT AT HOME

Now this is something I was interested in as I was more aware of microneedling as an at home option having seen those videos of the aggressive scrubbing at one’s cheeks by many a YouTube/Instagram celeb. (Suffice to say I hadn’t explored it as I thought it looked horrendously painful!)

As I described earlier you can get dermarollers with varying lengths of needle & Athena would suggest a 0.25mm size for home use, with a maximum of a once weekly session. Many will say 2-3 times a week however this does not give the skin adequate time to recover & can cause more redness/rawness & injury to the skin than you would want. She would also impress that delicate feathering motion as opposed to a harsh scrubbing, we want to cause light puncturing rather than aggressive abrasion of the skin surface. You would then also follow this with a similar protocol – intense serum, mask etc to maximise on that regeneration & hydration process.


CONCLUSIONS & CONTACT

In terms of my experiences I cannot impress how much I am enjoying this exploration of these non-toxic & non-invasive alternatives to skincare & maintenance. I have great & unrelenting respect for our bodies & think that harnessing its own regenerative mechanisms is truly fascinating but also totally in tune with the way I approach my health, wellness & that of those who come to see me as clients.

Again I will impress the fact that not all practitioners are created equal so I cannot attest to anyone else’s skills except the wonderful Athena – if you would like to be in touch with her find her at West 1 Physio on London’s Harley Street, or on Instagram here.

As always any comments, questions, concerns or random thoughts please feel free to send them through to me at pliebling@me.com or call +44 (0) 7738711183.

With healthy wishes,

Phoebe x

Published by

Leave a Reply