Let’s start with the basics. As the name suggests, microneedling is a procedure that uses tiny needles to create small puncture wounds in the skin. The purpose of creating these micro-wounds is to trigger your skin’s own healing response, which is pretty powerful. While this may sound scary, micro-needling is associated with little to no pain, and a topical numbing cream is applied before a single needle ever touches your face. The procedure is done using a tool called a micro-needling pen, and needles usually range anywhere from 0.5-3.5 mm in length.
While this procedure can have many benefits, the greatest benefit of microneedling is collagen production. Collagen production is a huge part of your skin’s healing process, so by creating superficial wounds that won’t cause lasting damage, you’re essentially tricking your skin into creating new collagen.
Find out how Microneedling can help with aging and wrinkles here.
Before I answer this question, I want to clarify the difference between acne scars and hyperpigmentation.
True acne scars leave indents in the skin and are typically caused by severe acne, such as cystic or nodular. These are the kinds of blemishes that don’t come to a head, no matter how much you pick and squeeze (which you really shouldn’t do, btw). Picking and squeezing increases the likelihood that a blemish will leave an atrophic (indented) scar in its wake. These indents are true acne scars and can linger for years, or if they’re deep enough, never resolve.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the technical term for those dark marks that hang around after a blemish heals. People often talk about PIH and acne scars interchangeably, but for the sake of this post, it’s important to distinguish between the two.
The good news is that microneedling can absolutely help with indented acne scars. Because it helps stimulate your skin’s own production of collagen, these indents can be filled in overtime, giving the skin an overall smoother appearance. Basically, microneedling helps “plump out” acne scars.
I’ve heard of microneedling being recommended for PIH, but I personally don’t believe this to be the best course of treatment. PIH is caused by an excess of melanin—basically, overactive pigment cells have been triggered by the trauma of an inflamed blemish. When this happens, the goal is to get these overactive pigment cells to settle down. Since microneedling is such an active treatment, it can actually have the opposite effect and may keep pigment cells activated longer. Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different, and getting microneedling isn’t guaranteed to make pigmentation better or worse. That said, if this is your main concern, microneedling isn’t the first treatment I would recommend.
While microneedling is a great treatment option for indented acne scars, I understand it’s not available to everyone. Luckily, there are things you can do at home to boost collagen production. Whether or not you’re having microneedling done, adding in one or more of these steps will benefit you.
As far as topical treatments go, these are best for building and protecting collagen:
Although all of these can help minimize the appearance of indented acne scars, keep in mind that you can’t expect the same results from topical products as from a professional treatment. It’s important to manage your expectations and be wary of any company that claims it will make your acne scars disappear with a single product