Created by Dr Des Fernandes, the founder of Environ, micro-needling has been a success story since its first official demonstration in 1996. The original Roll-Cit from Environ has been copied by various brands and given various names. These include skin needling, micro-needle therapy, dermaroller, dermal rolling, Percutaneous Collagen Induction and Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT).
They all use the method of micro needles stuck on a small roller. As it is rolled across the skin it creates tiny perforations. These puncture through the layers of skin and activate a healing response from the body to release growth factors which
a) produce collagen which plumps the skin,
b) produce elastin which gives skin its elasticity
c) improve skin’s texture and tightness.
The length of the needles determines how far into the skin they penetrate. The easiest way to understand this is to place the roller devices into 3 categories as shown below. If you had a needle measuring 0.3mm, it would look quite tame. Take a 2cm device and it can make Freddy Kruger look like Hello Kitty. But don’t worry, dermal rollers have been around since the early 1990s and have proved their staying power.
In category 1 you have the home devices. Environ offers its Cosmetic Roll-Cit with needles just 0.3mm and the even tinier Focus-Cit with needles 0.2mm. The Roll-Cit can be rolled across the face, the neck and small areas of the body, while Focus-Cit is geared towards specific areas such as around the eyes and lips. With these minute lengths, the objective is not so much to generate a healing response because the needles don’t go deep enough, but to open up tiny holes so that any product that is placed on the skin will be absorbed deeper into the layers and can be up to 10,000 times more effective than normal topical application.
Category 2 needles 1.0 and 1.5mm are considered medical and need to be administered by a trained therapist or clinician with the application of a topical anaesthetic cream. Other than a light tickling on the face, you would not expect to have much sensation. Bruising and swelling is minimal and they do penetrate deep enough to promote the body to generate collagen and elastin.
After this, you get the big guns in category 3 which is advanced or surgical administered by a medical professional. A good anaesthetic is required, there will be bruising, swelling and therefore some downtime. Anything above the 3.0mm needles may not prove to be any more beneficial, especially taking into account the discomfort and downtime.
With any type of Roll-Cit, the holes give you a 1 hour window of opportunity within which time any ingredient absorbed into the skin is boosted. This is great for your hard-working vitamins, concentrates, hyaluronic acids etc but if your product includes preservatives, colouring and you do not want these being absorbed into the deeper layers of your skin. Some clinics when using Category 2 needles or above, apply nothing on the skin but a zinc based sunscreen.
What’s the success rate? Dermal rolling is great for treating many types of scars including chickenpox and acne scars, lax skin and wrinkles. It is effective on stretchmarks, especially those in sensitive areas such as the breast and abdomen. Unlike laser resurfacing and chemical peels, which remove the uppermost layer of skin, the needling leaves this layer intact so the skin recovers quicker. In fact, in a study which pitted lasers against medical rollers, it was shown that the rollers had generated more collagen. You also don’t have the possibility of post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation that you can get with a laser.
How many treatments are needed? As with almost all skincare treatments, if you want results, you need to invest long-term. Just doing one won’t give you the results you’re after. After 1 session, you will notice more radiance and freshness. A month later, after session 2 you may start to notice some changes which are actually the results of session 1. By the time you get to the 3rd session any changes you see are the results of both sessions 1 and 2 and your skin has yet to catch up post session 3. Even 3 months later after session 3, your skin is still improving. It really is a case of biding your time and investing in several treatments.
Will results be permanent? That all depends on your skincare regime. If you battled your way through 6 months’ worth of hardcore gym sessions then became a carbs -guzzling couch potato afterwards, would this be fair payment for your hard work?
When something is successful, it is often copied and the Roll-Cit is no stranger to this. If you plan to buy a home needling device that is not from a salon or skin clinic be careful. The genuine devices are made very precisely, from how the needles are inserted to how many there are to get the most effective puncturing. A low quality roller can drag and damage the skin. A low quality needle may have more needles than are necessary and cause the needles to insert too often in one spot. If it is too cheap to be true, then it probably isn’t, true that is.
Finally, a home device must never be shared with anyone! It is for you and you alone.