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  1. Does the Derma Roller Really Work?
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Does the Derma Roller Really Work?

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Katie is curious…I have been doing a lot of research on Collagen Induction Therapy using a derma roller. It’s a roller device with a bunch of tiny needles. You roll it over your skin and it creates tiny, microscopic holes in the skin. The theory is if you slightly, slightly injure your skin it will induce your skin to produce more collagen and reduce scars and wrinkles. It has been shown on the The Doctors and Rachel Ray shows and its all over Youtube etc (not that any of these are reliable, but I do trust The Doctors show more than the rest of course!). Creating these tiny holes is also supposed to help topical products penetrate deeper. So I bought into the hype and bought one. It’s only been a couple of weeks and I’ve used it three times. I use one of the smallest needle sizes (.5) and it does turn my face pretty red, but by the next morning it nearly gone. The things we do for beauty! Thoughts?

The Right Brain responds:

Believe it or not, Katie, this kind of needle therapy does have some scientific merit.

Collagen Induction Therapy

Poking your skin with a needle studded roller is technically referred to as Percutaneous Collagen Induction Therapy (or CIT). CIT has been used by dermatologists for the last decade or so as a way to reduce wrinkles and scar tissue without significant side effects. Basically, the process involves numbing your face and then poking it with fine needles a few millimeters long. These micro perforations trigger increased collagen synthesis which can fill in wrinkles and help heal scars. Other benefits include improved skin tightness, reduced acne scars and stretch marks, as well as improved scar color.

Amazing, isnt it? Here’s how it works: The needles cause an inflammatory response which triggers a complex series of reactions involving chemotactic factors, neutrophils, and fibroblasts. This process leads to the creation of new skin cells that promote collagen deposition. But here’s the catch: for this procedure to be effective the the needles need to be at least 1.5 mm and have a diameter of 0.25 mm. So, because of potential side effects (not to mention potential pain), only a trained dermatologist should administer the procedure.

DIY Danger

The distinction in needle length is an important one: some companies who make these rollers are very clear about the difference between the professional models for medical use and the home models for cosmetic use. But other less scrupulous companies blur the difference and imply that the home model will provide all the benefits of the medical treatment. Some are even so bold as to state that their needle rollers will cure cellulite and baldness. I’m surprised no one is marketing this technology as a breast enlargement treatment!

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Poking your face with needles (when done by a trained professional) is a legitimate treatment to increase collagen. But the Do It Yourself version is another story all together. If the roller has the proper type of needles to be effective then it is a medical device that should only be used by a trained professional. And if it uses smaller needles, then it may be safe for you to use on yourself as an exfolliant, but it won’t provide the same collagen stimulating effect. So either way, when it comes to DIY face needling, let the buyer beware!


Derma-Roller FAQ’s:

Oral Maxillofacial Surg Clin N Am 17 (2005) 51 – 63 Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Collagen Induction Desmond Fernandes, MB, BCh, FRCS(Edin) The Shirnel Clinic and Department of Plastic Reconstructive Surgery, University of Cape Town, 822 Fountain Medical Centre, Heerengracht, Cape Town 8001, South Africa

American Academy of Dermatology 67th Annual Meeting March 6–10, 2009 P3514 Skin collagen induction and photoaging Gabriella Fabbrocini, Department of Dermatology University Federico II of Naple, Napoli, Italy; Antonella Tosti, Department of Dermatology University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; Giuseppe Monfrecola, MD, Department of Dermatology University Federico II of Naple, Napoli, Italy; Maria Pia De Padova, MD, Ospedale Privato Nigrisoli, Bologna, Italy


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