In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about microneedling and how it helps with the treatment of various hair loss conditions. The evidence presented in this article will rely on high-quality clinical studies and peer-reviewed papers.
What is microneedling?
Microneedling is an aesthetic procedure that rejuvenates the skin by promoting collagen production. It involves using a skin roller equipped with small needles to create tiny punctures in the skin. These controlled micro-injuries stimulate the body's natural healing process, leading to the rejuvenation of the skin and improvement in various aging effects.
In addition to its skin benefits, microneedling is increasingly recognized for its potential in treating hair loss, particularly androgenetic alopecia.
The process of creating micro-wounds not only aids skin regeneration but also can rejuvenate hair follicles, potentially leading to new hair growth. This makes microneedling a promising option for those experiencing pattern hair loss.
Does microneedling work for hair loss?
Yes, microneedling can help with hair loss by stimulating scalp blood flow and nutrient delivery to hair follicles.
Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure where fine needles create small punctures in the scalp. This process can activate the body's wound healing response, promoting blood circulation and nutrient supply to hair follicles, which may encourage hair growth.
It's often used alongside treatments like topical treatments for better results.
More specifically, research found that microneedling is especially potent for the absorption of corticosteroids, which are often used to treat hair loss.
How does microneedling work for hair loss?
Microneedling works by using very fine needles to create micro-injuries in the scalp. This triggers the body's natural wound healing response and growth factor release to repair the skin. As collagen production increases in the dermis layer beneath the skin surface, it improves scalp thickness and hair follicle health.
Repeating treatments every 4-6 weeks over 6-8 sessions aims to encourage existing hair regrowth by addressing underlying scalp issues. Most see a 15-20% increase in hair density, though advanced cases may be less responsive. Results gradually improve over months as the scalp strengthening effect builds up.
It's a generally safe option performed by a medical professional when proper sterilization is followed. Some redness or swelling is common.
Clinical studies that support microneedling for hair loss
In a recent study in China, researchers reported that injuries induce hair regeneration. The proposed theory is the stimulation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.
Another study found that microneedling increased total hair count more than minoxidil. Evidently, combining the two treatment options produces even more effective results.
In February 2021, a journal in Korea published its findings on the role of microneedling in enhancing the absorption of minoxidil. Analyzing patient satisfaction showed that minoxidil plus microneedling showed the best outcomes.
Researchers showed that using Follica's microwounding device to treat female pattern hair loss produced very positive results.
When it comes to the length of the needles, a study from Iran showed that a depth of 0.6 millimeters generated more effective results than 1.2 mm. These findings were surprising to many healthcare providers since it was believed that the deeper the injections are, the better the results. In fact, doctors working with derma rolling recommended microneedling at a depth of 1-1.5 mm in a 2020 video on their website.
All of these studies have a consensus on the benefits of microneedling at home. Even more, adding minoxidil to the mix can lead to impressive results.
Note that the effectiveness of minoxidil on hair loss depends on the type of disorder you have.
Why should you consider microneedling for hair loss at home?
Microneedling sessions are quite expensive, ranging from $200 to $700 per session. The larger the surface area, the more expensive these sessions will be.
Unfortunately, microneedling is not covered by medical insurance as it's considered a cosmetic procedure. One exception is undergoing microneedling for medical purposes. For instance, if you have a documented case of AA that's negatively affecting your quality of life or a debilitating case of acne, you may consider opting for insurance to pay for the procedure.
With that said, the chances of getting your insurance company to cover the costs are really slim. Therefore, it is better to get microneedling at home, as you will save thousands of dollars.
Over the past few years, there has been an ongoing discussion about the use of microneedling at home. This DIY procedure using dermarolling can help with androgenetic alopecia and induce hair regrowth. For years, scientists have known that inflicting micro-injuries to the scalp induces follicular neogenesis by stimulating the natural healing processes of the skin.
Microneedling at home helps with a myriad of skin conditions, including hair loss, skin rejuvenation, wrinkles, acne, stretch marks, and scars. It can also help with pigmentation issues, such as melasma and enlarged pore size.
These effects are primarily the result of collagen and elastin deposition after certain metabolic pathways get stimulated. Note that a team of Japanese researchers found that hair thinning can be the result of collagen depletion, which is very common with aging.
Ideally, you would combine microneedling at home with drug administration (e.g., corticosteroids, minoxidil 5%). However, this is impractical if you're doing the procedure alone.
Doctors around the world use microneedling when applying hair regrowth medications and serums (e.g., minoxidil, platelet-rich plasma, exosomes). Therefore, to get similar results to professional clinics, try to ask a family member or a friend for help.
Side effects of microneedling
The procedure of microneedling may carry some side effects, including:
Another rare side effect is the scarring of the wounds.
After a few days of the procedure, the area may get inflamed and swollen. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that most of these side effects will subside within 5 days of the procedure.
With that said, make sure to speak with your dermatologist if you have any of these conditions before receiving micro needling:
- A medical history of acne or eczema
- Diabetes - it slows down wound healing
- Taking blood thinners or other medications
It is important to note that pregnant women should not receive microneedling.
Some patients report their scalps being more sensitive to the sun after microneedling. Ideally, you would wear a hat and put on sunscreen every day, especially after the procedure.
Perhaps the most fearsome side effect of microneedling is the possible infection that develops within the wounds. This risk is relatively low because of how small the wounds are.
And if you're wondering what is the best at home microneedling tool for you, check out our article on the best derma roller for hair growth of 2023.
What should you microneedling with?
One common plan that exacerbates the side effects of microneedling is the immediate use of minoxidil after the procedure. This will cause itching, burning, and irritation of the scalp. Make sure to speak with your doctor about when to apply minoxidil after microneedling.