One of the necessary drawbacks of most surgical procedures is the inevitable resulting scar. For most people, scarring after surgery — whether for cosmetic or medical purposes — is a small price to pay for the long-term results of the procedure. Still, scarring can be a cause of insecurity and self-esteem struggles, especially when scars are not easily hidden.
Fortunately, there are now numerous treatment options that can significantly reduce the appearance of scars. New research has found that not only is microneedling an effective scar treatment, but that starting treatment sooner than previously recommended may improve outcomes even more.
What the Latest Study Shows
Microneedling has long been considered an effective treatment option for scarring. However, a recent study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that microneedling performed within 6 to 7 weeks after surgery produced superior results to the same treatments administered once the natural healing process had already taken place, at 13 to 14 weeks post-op.
Researchers believe that the difference in outcomes when microneedling is started while the skin is still healing versus after healing is complete can be attributed to the mechanisms by which scars naturally heal. Starting microneedling six weeks after surgery seems to provide the advantage of timing treatment at the peak of natural collagen production, thus enhancing the skin’s natural wound-healing process.
Of course, scar treatment should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and your doctor will have the best knowledge of and recommendations for your specific situation.
How Does Microneedling Work?
Microneedling is particularly effective at treating scars because it works by triggering collagen production. Collagen is the primary protein that is used to remodel skin during its natural healing process, so it is important that your skin is able to produce enough collagen to effectively heal.
On its own, microneedling uses tiny needles to create “microchannels” within your skin, spurring your skin’s natural healing process and therefore collagen production. This technology can also be combined with radiofrequency energy, as is the case with Morpheus8 radiofrequency microneedling, to enhance its collagen-inducing ability.
What Types of Scars Can Microneedling Treat?
Microneedling can treat a variety of scar types, including:
- Acne scars
- Burn scars
- Surgical scars
- Indented scars
- Raised scars
Microneedling may be used in combination with other treatments such as lasers or topical corticosteroids for enhanced results.
Other Scar Treatment Options
While microneedling has been shown to treat many different types of scarring, the best treatment protocol for you will depend on your individual situation. In some cases, microneedling may be combined with other scar treatment options for enhanced results. Some other common non-surgical scar treatments include:
- Intense pulsed light (IPL) skin rejuvenation — best used for treating scar discoloration and redness, and can be paired with microneedling devices like Morpheus8.
- Laser skin resurfacing — can be used for treating many different scar types.
- Dermal fillers — best used for treating indented acne scars.
PRP injections — can be used for treating many different scar types and can be paired with other scar treatment options for enhanced results.
Dr. Jessica West is the Medical Director for the Michigan Center for Cosmetic Services. She is known for her superior aesthetic results, strong attention to detail, artistic eye, and honest expert opinion in regards to both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures.