First year university sucked. For so many reasons and among them, some pretty bad acne. It wasn’t so horrible, except they left some scars I don’t love. My skin has been really good for the past year, finally finding its groove after returning home from nomad life, but the one thing between me and flawless skin is these dang scars. Which are probably noticeable to no one but me.
Then one day I realized, yo, it’s 2018, people have probably figured out how to fix this. There are some pretty intense treatments, but the one I went with was microneedling because well, it’s not gonna literally burn my face off (like lasers).
Microneedling is also known as collagen induction therapy. Lots of tiny needles are pushed into your skin to create an injury response in the skin. It will break up the damaged tissues, and the body will create lots of collagen in the area and rebuild the skin from underneath. So any depressions, like wrinkles, lines, or scars are being “filled” out by being rebuilt from underneath. It’s not an immediate results kind of procedure, but the results are powered by your body’s own healing abilities and are permanent.
There are all kinds of dermaroller/at home kits, but because you are poking holes into your skin you don’t want to press bacteria or infections into your skin and spread it around. (There are horror stories abound about people spreading herpes or staph infections around their whole face). As an in-office procedure, the whole thing is very sterile. I did a lot of research to find the right dermatologist office in my area (because like, I don’t want just anybody messing with my face, which isn’t that bad to begin with).
More below on the results I’ve noticed so far, and a quick explanation for why I did it.
What it was like…
Me, with my face, fresh out of bed. Not a thing on my face. Which is perfect because whatever you do to your face would just get wiped off anyways.
This looked too stupid without a filter. But this is me with numbing cream all over my face. My least favorite part of the whole procedure is actually getting this stuff wiped off. After my face was numbed and sterilized, I got clear jelly hyaluronic acid squirted onto my face and then I had my face attacked by needles. It doesn’t really hurt. I’ve never gotten a tattoo, but I reckon it’s what getting one must feel like. The parts that hurt the most for me both times was my jaw line. I told Kim, my nurse, and she dialed the needle length back, and then I was all good. The forehead is supposed to hurt the most, but for me it wasn’t all that memorable.
The goal during the procedure is to get pin point bleeding. And the blood mixed with the hyaluronic acid just makes it look like you have bloody goo all over your face. The times I looked at the needling device it looked super scary. It also makes a weird slurpy sound.
After Kim was all done with my face, I got a nice and cool sheet mask and eye mask. I got that for 10-15 minutes and the cool masks feel SO good because your face just feels hot. When the mask was peeled off it looked so gross all covered in pink jelly. Kim always tells me not to look.
This is my face once I got into the car. Zero filter. My face is really just that red. I proceeded to go to the grocery store to get some snacks after this. As long as I don’t see my reflection, I don’t really care. I’m just channeling my inner Dead Pool.
As the numbing cream wears off, I’m looking less like Ryan Reynolds and feeling more like my face is on fire. This is me with the ice pack Kim gave me wrapped in a glove. This is my face an hour after microneedling.
Another hour later. With a different ice pack. The parts of my face that felt the hottest were the spots Kim went really aggressive on. I didn’t use ice the first time. After the first treatment, my face felt more dry and tight, so I slathered on the repair cream I was given. This time it was just felt super hot.
The third day is when my face started peeling. It usually starts around my chin/mouth area. It looks super dry and flakey, and then it just starts sloughing off. At night before bed, I gently massage my wet face with my finger tips to get the dead skin off. Over the course of 3-4 days, after the whole upper layer of my skin is gone, it’s brand new baby skin! It’s totally gross, yet completely satisfying.
This is my face exactly a week later. Zero makeup, filters or fancy lighting. There’s still some faint residual redness from where Kim spent more time (she was more aggressive with the pen this time). Other than that, my skin looks and feels fantastic.
The results I’ve noticed thus far
The most noticeable difference I’ve noticed is in the size of my pores. It’s like what my face looks like right after I use GlamGlow’s SuperMud, but like all the time.
There is a slight reduction in the depth of my acne scars. Kim said that any noticeable difference after the first treatment is a good sign, but nothing dramatic usually happens. It takes a few goes at it before anything becomes really noticeable. The full results take weeks to months to show up because of your cell’s life cycle, but I’m quite please thus far.
The other thing I noticed that have disappeared were my barely-even-there-in-the-first-place baby fine lines. It’s offensive to fine lines to even call what they were fine lines, really.
And the stubborn milia situation that was happening right under my lower lip has mostly gone away too. These were undetectable in the first place unless I was stretching the skin.
Here is me right after my first treatment. You can see totally normal looking pores on my super shiny face, in the under eye area. Kind of.
Here is another very flattering close up of my cheek area. No make-up in this picture (because I forgot everything I had packed for vacation.). Cool sunglasses though right? That’s what I thought. This was after my first treatment. I hate close-ups. They’re like a virtual invasion of space.
This was me trying on a new earring, which doubles as a convenient, “before” photo. This was taken a couple weeks after my first treatment (so no dramatic difference to what it was like before).
As you can see, it requires a very specific kind of light to photograph these scars in an unflattering way. This is why I don’t have any good “before” photos. I simply don’t have photos of my bare skin, at this angle, under overhead lights. I also don’t take selfies for the purpose of examining my skin, or like any selfies for the matter (except for Snapchat).
Anyways, here are some raw unedited, make-up-less pictures of my skin from different angles, all taken one week after my second treatment. No noticeable results yet, just brand new skin that’s not red and blotchy anymore.
Why I did it
Again, this was a completely cosmetic procedure. I did it because even though it’s not so bad now, as you age your body’s ability to produce collagen slows down and builds back up less perfectly. This means that the scars I have now, are likely to look worse in the future. Scars have an irregular texture because the collagen underneath, aka the scaffolding, was built up all wonky. Microneedling breaks up the “bad” collagen structure and causes your body to rebuild it back up. Because I still have great, young skin, I am taking advantage of my body’s ability to generate lots of collagen to maximize the benefits of collagen induction therapy. Microneedling is a pretty mild procedure, with no downtime, and low risk of permanent damage. (There are still risks. You don’t have to dig very deep to find people with permanent holes in their skin from bad needling procedures.) It is not inexpensive, but it is still less than more intensive procedures that involve lasers. Laser resurfacing uses heat instead of needles to break up your skin underneath. To my understanding, it gets you more dramatic results faster, but in a more extreme way (with more risks).
Kim Kardashian has said that her vampire facial was the most painful cosmetic procedure she has done and wouldn’t do it again. Her treatment was microneedling, with an additional step involving platelet-rich plasma. Instead of just hyaluronic acid being pushed into the skin, they draw blood and put it through a centrifuge to separate the plasma platelets and slather those platelets all over and into your face. I’m unconvinced that the PRP process is that much more worth it, because in microneedling your blood is being pushed back into your skin anyways… Kardashian also did it with reduced anaesthetics at the time, so I can definitely imagine how painful it must have been. However, in general I don’t think microneedling is all that bad pain wise, and if it is too much, you can just ask the doctor/nurse to go a little more gently.
Results wise, I would totally recommend this over getting a regular facial (like a chemical peel or microdermabrasion). To me microneedling is basically a fancy facial, but the results are long-term. In the long term, it just seems like a much better bang for your buck.
2 year update:
I am still so happy with my decision to do microneedling. My scars aren’t completely gone, but they are significantly reduced and when my skin is properly hydrated, practically invisible. It’s actually a great way to test whether or not a skincare product is working because I can see how noticeable the scarring is.