Hi friend, today we’re going to explore an effective, permanent method of acne scar removal. Called dermarolling. In which the tool you use soooorta looks like a torture device.
Well, not sorta — it looks exactly like a torture device.
Maybe I shouldn’t have started the article with that.
Anyway, it only hurts very mildly… not so much like torture per se…. ANYWAY….
This torture device is called a dermaroller or a skin needler, and what it does is called dermarolling or microneedling.
The basic premise is this:
When you’ve got acne scars (not so much red flat marks, but deeper indented or rolling ones), the problem is that your skin has technically already healed. You had a wound (an acne spot), and then it healed and left a scar. It didn’t exactly heal in the way you wanted, but it’s healed now, so your skin views this as a low priority for fixing and filling in.
What you then do is roll the dermaroller over your skin and the micro needles create very tiny pricks in the skin… “micro traumas” as it’s so elegantly and frighteningly called. This basically “reminds” your body that there is still work to do in the area, and it begins to fill the scars back in with tissue and collagen
Here’s a video of me demonstrating how to do it:
Dermarolling for Acne Scars: Not as Bad as It Sounds
So… at first I couldn’t believe this was a legit thing I would ever be recommending. After all, it sounds so aggressive.
And as you may know, I’m all about being gentle to your skin. And I still am!
There is one important thing to remember:
Don’t dermaroll on areas of your face that still have active acne! Clogged pores and red marks left from well healed pimples are ok but not over top of active inflamed spots. (Also, don’t perform skin needling on raised or keloid scarring)
Being aggressive and picking and squeezing and popping and pricking your skin is not how you heal from live acne wounds. It only makes it worse and more likely to scar. Think of any injury – harassing it ain’t the way to heal it.
However, this dermarolling thing has a lot of science that says that on intact, healed skin, it really helps a great deal with indented scars. So who am I to say no.
There is another thing to remember too:
Don’t do it too much!
You can still be aggressive with the dermaroller by simply doing it too much (which I know some of you will be attempted to do! You think that if it works, then the more the merrier, right?)
For deep scars, you really only want to do it every 6 weeks. More than that and you aren’t giving your skin sufficient time to heal and build the collagen you want – you’re only aggravating it.
Think of dermarolling like weight lifting for your skin… when you lift weights or exercise, you are creating tiny little micro tears in your muscles. This prompts your body to repair these and lay down more muscle tissue as a result, making you stronger.
However, you have to rest after the exercise in order for your body to do this repair work. If you work out too often and don’t allow enough recovery time, then you don’t get stronger and are more likely to get injured.
Choosing a Dermaroller for Treating Your Acne Scars
When it comes to dermarollers, there are different lengths of needles you can use for different purposes.
Dermarolling isn’t only for acne scars – it can also be used for improving wrinkles, cellulite, large pores, and overall skin texture. It can also be used to bring a topical moisturizer or healing serum deeper into the skin.
If you are using it for anti-aging or serum absorption purposes, you use a shorter needle and it can be done more often. For deep acne scars, you do need to use the longer needle lengths to really see results.
The unfortunate part is that the longer the needle, the more it hurts, but the payoff is that you don’t have to do it as often.
Here’re the general guideline for needle length and frequency:
To increase serum absorption and thicken the skin: 0.25 to 0.3 mm needle. Can be done every other day if your skin can tolerate it without becoming excessively dry, red, or peely.
To treat mild acne scars and decrease wrinkles and increase collagen: 0.5mm needle. Give yourself 7 days before each subsequent treatment.
To treat moderate to deep acne scars and wrinkles: 0.75 to 1mm needle. Do not do this more than once a month.
For really deep and old scars: 1.5 to 2mm needle. Can only be done every 6 to 8 weeks and if you are getting into this territory, you might strongly consider having a professional do it instead
So, when you buy a dermaroller, you want to find one that has a certain number of needles per square inch (540), is titanium, and preferably comes with a cover as to not damage the needles.
Ideally you would also find one with interchangeable heads so you could use different needle lengths for different applications, but for some reason that was shockingly impossible to find.
So here are links to good ones that, I guess, you unfortunately have to buy separately:
The General Dermarolling Procedure for Acne Scars
So first thing’s first… you want to make sure that your roller has been thoroughly sanitized before each use.
After all, the last thing you want to do is bring bacteria deep into the skin and cause an infection. You should take this very seriously.
After each use, rinse it off with hot water, then place the roller head completely submerged in rubbing alcohol for at least an hour. Then rinse again and allow to dry.
Before using it again, either soak it in alcohol again for for 30 minutes, or just wash it with soap and water and you’re ready to go.
Okay, so now you’re about to rock and roll. ha.
Numbing Creams for Dermarolling Acne Scars
If you are using a longer needle, you may at this point want to apply a numbing cream.
With the shorter needles, it’s not really supposed to hurt… like… for example, take your finger nail and tap the tip of it on your forehead repeatedly. Slightly uncomfortable, maybe, but not painful at all.
The longer needles, it does start to actually hurt a bit, so to do a thorough job and get the results you want on your acne scars, a numbing cream containing lidocaine might be a good idea.
I have done a pretty thorough search for a natural numbing creams, without coming up with a whole lot. Here’s the best one I could find.
But, I figure that since you will only doing the procedure with the long needles once a month maximum, it’s not the end of the world if you use a non-natural cream for this.
So anyway, take your numbing cream and put it on the areas that you will be treating and allow it to sit for 30 minutes in order to kick in.
The Dermarolling of Your Acne Scars
Okay, now you’re ready to rock and roll.
Again, here’s the how-to video:
So take your dermaroller and hold it with your index finger pressing down on the shaft.
Basically, this finger “posture” creates the downward pressure that you need to do the job properly. Just gentle pressure though — no need to be overly aggressive with it.
Now get to work. You’ll want to roll back and forth over each area of the face four to eight times first in one direction, then the other, while holding your skin tight with the other hand.
So roll up and four to eight times. Then back and forth four to eight times. Then move onto a new area.
Remember, for acne scars, you don’t have to treat your whole face. You can just spot treat the scars.
Anyway – if you’re using the longer needles, your skin is probably going to be full of tiny little red marks and probably a small bit of blood.
Rinse your face off, and then apply a moisturizer full of healing ingredients – natural oils, aloe, glycerin. Etc. Something like my DIY moisturizer.
Or you can use a good quality Vitamin C serum that contains sodium acetyl phosphate aka SAP (not ascorbic acid) and follow up with a drop of oil. I recommend the following:
- 20% Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum – Made in Canada (avail on US & Canada amazon)
- Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum (available on amazon and iherb)
- Face Theory Gegena C20 Serum (UK)
- Roccoco Clarifying C Serum (Aus)
What Results to Expect from Dermarolling
Be gentle with your skin after a rolling session. And don’t expect immediate results.
As with weight lifting, you don’t get huge muscles after one workout, but after several uses (providing you let your skin heal sufficiently between each session) you should start to see some filling in of the scars.
Keep going and hopefully you’ll see a big, if not full, improvement!
Would love to hear your thoughts on dermarolling. Tried it? Want to? Questions? Any advice to share? Let us know in the comments below!