From more budget-conscious at-home kits to pricier in-office treatments, learn about microneedling and how it may help you get the skin of your dreams.

By Shannon Bauer

Hearing the words "needle" and "face" in the same sentence is enough to send you running away faster than your race pace. Breathe-it's actually way less scary than it sounds. To put it simply, microneedling uses a tool with super-tiny needles on the tip, which can be adjusted from 0.5 to 2.5 millimeters in length, to create microscopic holes in the top layer of the skin. This "precise injury," as the pros refer to it, stimulates collagen (strength) and elastin (firmness) production in your skin. (Beauty is pain, right? JK, it doesn't actually hurt.)

Microneedling can be used on basically all skin types to treat acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles, and stretch marks, according to Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology. (BTW, can at-home blue-light devices really clear acne?) However, Dr. Chwalek says anyone with darker skin tones should be careful with aggressive or too frequent use, as it could cause hyperpigmentation.

If you're interested in trying microneedling, you have two options: Try your hand with an at-home device or have a pro do the poking in-office.

At-Home Microneedling Devices

At-home microneedling rollers (also called derma rollers) use a roller ball mechanism, similar to those used in perfume tubes, to prick or "injure" the skin's surface. You may feel a prickly sensation. Besides the potential anti-aging benefits of the device alone, following miconeedling with topical products can increase their effectiveness, as the microscopic skin pricks allow for deeper absorption of products such as vitamin C or night cream. (All about DIY beauty treatments? Check out the fancy at-home skin-care devices that really work.)

Cost: $30 to $100

In-Office Miconeedling Treatments

The devices you'll find at your derm's office can penetrate skin deeper and are often combined with radio frequency energy. Dr. Chwalek says that when they're used together, they can also reach the dermis (the thick layer of skin below the surface) to create even more collagen contraction for greater tightening results. Compared to resurfacing lasers, microdermabrasion, or peels, in-office microneedling has very little downtime. There may be some redness that appears several hours after the treatment, but any tenderness or discomfort is minimal. Dr. Chwalek says that topical numbing cream is often applied prior to treatment to lessen the slight stinging sensation.

Cost: Up to $300 (Save money by opting for a roller ball treatment by aesthetician)

How Often You Can Do Microneedling

For the treatment of acne scars, stretch marks, and wrinkles, it is recommended you get treated every four to six weeks since it can take a few treatments to see results. It may also take several treatments to see better firmness or elasticity, but results can be long-lasting. Dr. Chwalek recommends using the at-home rollerball devices no more than once a week to avoid damaging the skin or breaking blood vessels. (Keep up the good skin-care work with these beauty products dermatologists love.)

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