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Every day there are more ways to treat hair loss.
That’s a good thing. Hair loss can have a massive effect on your self-esteem. Hair loss treatments can help.
One of the newest ways to treat hair loss is through two related processes: dermarolling and microneedling. These treatments are often used for cosmetic uses on the skin, but they can also be used to stimulate hair growth.
In this article, we describe these two treatments, explain how they work, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of these treatments. We’ll also provide details about how you can access these treatments.
Microneedling, also known as Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), is a method that dermatologists use to encourage collagen production. Typically, they’re doing it to reduce the appearance of acne scars, stretch marks, or even try to reduce wrinkles.
Dermarolling and microneedling have become a fad recently for a number of different skin problems, such as the treatment of acne scars, puffiness, and even to correct skin tone and anti aging purposes. More recently, they have been used to foster hair growth.
The procedure lasts about 30 minutes each session when done by professionals in a clinic. The number of sessions you may need depends on your needs and particular skin or hair problem.
Microneedling does exactly what it says on the tin: it uses very small needles to puncture holes in the skin. The punctures are supposed to stimulate your body’s natural healing process. It increases blood flow to the area, along with an increase in growth factors and inflammatory mediators.
Dermarolling is the same process. In dermarolling, the small needles are attached to a device that you roll across the skin. The punctures and friction from the needles foster the generation of facial collagen, which can improve the skin’s condition.
When used to treat hair loss, the logic is that as the body tries to heal the skin, it won’t distinguish between skin cells and hair cells. So the growth factors generated by the microneedling wounds will end up strengthening the hair. Essentially it works in two main ways:
Depending on the thickness of your skin, you may need shallower or longer needles.
Typically, for hair stimulation, you want something between 1 mm and 1.5 mm in length. That would put the injury in the area where the stem cells of the hair reside. Note that this is a bit deeper than you might use if your goal was simply skin rejuvenation.
Longer needles cause more damage. That means they stimulate more growth factors, but it also increases your risk of injury. If you go with needles that are longer than 1.5 mm, you risk actually causing damage to the hair follicle itself, which could increase hair loss.
A professional is usually better able to understand the needle length and application that might be appropriate for you.
Dermarolling can work to strengthen hair in areas where you still have hair. You can use it where hair is thinning.
But it won’t work on bald spots or where all the hair is gone.
Usually, yes, especially when conducted by professionals.
It’s not exactly painless. For some people, it’s similar to the experience of getting a tattoo. But for most people, it’s less painful because it impacts a more superficial layer of skin. A tattoo artist's needle goes deeper.
In rare cases, people have been exposed to disease through microneedling. For example, that is reported to have occurred at a spa in New Mexico. It appears that the spa did not have the proper procedures for cleaning its equipment. As with any other cosmetic or medical procedure, safety and hygiene protocols are critical to have in place.
It’s also possible to overdo it. Too much rolling can cause damage to the skin and hair and result in more harm than good. Experts recommend that you don’t do it for more than a few minutes at a time, and not more than 2 or 3 times a week.
This is also one of the reasons that it’s best not to attempt this procedure at home.
Note that it’s normal for the treated area to be red for a few days as the skin recovers. This is when the collagen is produced and begins to work.
Yes, it can cause shedding.
One way it does that is if the needle goes through the hair follicle itself. This can cause the follicle to shed and start a new growth cycle.
More generally, if you microneedle a lot, you may simply cause so many inflammatory factors that more general hair shedding occurs. In other words, more is not better.
A microneedling procedure can cost anywhere from $200 to $700 per session and may cost several thousand dollars, depending on the clinic and the particular procedure you’re doing. If you have to do several sessions, it can become very expensive.
Usually, clinics provide a consultation where a professional will evaluate your case and tell you the number of sessions that are likely needed for your case and for the effect you’re looking for.
Note that microneedling is considered a cosmetic procedure, meaning that it is not usually covered by health insurance, although this depends to some extent on the relationship between the doctor and clinic you seek care from.
You can also do dermarolling at home, although there is some risk of injury. Dermarollers can be purchased at specialty dermatology or cosmetics stores or online. They typically go for between $15 and $100.
Again, there are potentially serious risks from doing a dermarolling procedure on yourself. When considering any medical treatment, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional for advice.
Microneedling can be effective, but it’s typically not the first treatment that professionals recommend. This is because there are other less invasive treatments that work in a similar way.
Alternative treatments for skin rejuvenation include:
All of those methods work by damaging the skin in some way. They each cause discomfort.
The above treatments typically aren’t as useful for hair loss. Instead, the best hair loss treatments typically are pharmacological that work by blocking DHT. These include:
Microneedling and dermarollers are typically used for skin rejuvenation. But they can also sometimes help treat hair loss. They do this by damaging the skin, which provokes the body to regenerate hair follicles.
It also may help the scalp absorb pharmaceutical products that are applied directly to the scalp like minoxidil and topical finasteride.
But microneedling, by its nature, causes damage to the skin. If you microneedle too much or too often, you could do more harm than good.
If you’re not sure, talk to a hair loss professional. They’ll help you understand what’s causing your hair loss and find the best treatment for you.
Want to get started? Start your online visit with a hair loss specialist today.
Majid I. (2009). Microneedling therapy in atrophic facial scars: an objective assessment. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 2(1), 26–30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840919/
Chandrashekar, B., Yepuri, V., & Mysore, V. (2014). Alopecia areata-successful outcome with microneedling and triamcinolone acetonide. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 7(1), 63–64. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3996798/
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.