Microneedling Aftercare: Tips, Potential Side Effects

Written by Annie Jangam

Microneedling is a minimally-invasive dermatological procedure where small punctures are made on the skin to stimulate collagen production and blood circulation. It is also called collagen induction therapy (1).

Microneedling is popular for treating chronic skin conditions like wrinkles, scars, acne, stretch marks, rosacea, and even loose skin. In many cases, it is also used as a vehicle for the transdermal delivery of drugs (2).

While a lot is known about microneedling and its benefits, not many are aware of the aftercare needed. The process punctures the skin, and one needs to take measures to heal the skin barrier. Here, we discuss microneedling aftercare tips and the potential side effects of the procedure.

What To Expect After A Microneedling Procedure?

Here is what you can expect after a microneedling procedure:

  • Your skin might appear slightly red. This redness usually will subside within 24 hours. Avoid using makeup to cover the redness up or hide it.
  • You might feel mild pain as the numbing agent wears off. However, the pain will subside soon.
  • You might feel your skin has become dry and flaky. This is absolutely normal after a microneedling procedure.
  • The microneedling procedure involves pricking your skin with a minute needle. Hence, you also may notice small bleeding spots in some places.
  • Your skin may also peel after the microneedling procedure (up to a week). This is normal. This indicates your skin is renewing.
  • Around four to five days after the procedure, your skin will begin to settle down and glow. But your skin would still need immense care.
  • Your skin can become tight post-treatment. This tightness will reduce in one to two days.

The following sections list certain dos and don’ts that can help with your skin recovery after a microneedling procedure.

Microneedling Aftercare: The Dos and Dont’s

  • Always clean your skin with lukewarm water and a gentle face cleanser. The skin might be slightly tender after the treatment. Hence, you must be very gentle while applying and washing away the cleanser.
  • Ensure your hands are clean before touching your face.
  • If your skin feels dry, apply the skin hydrant gel (recommended by your doctor) to hydrate your skin and prevent any flaking or irritation.
  • A topical antibiotic cream might be prescribed to prevent any skin infections during your healing phase.
  • Stay away from makeup and other perfumed or scented face products for at least 72 hours after your procedure. Such products may irritate raw skin.
  • Use only clean brushes to apply any product to your face.
  • Avoid sun exposure for at least a week after your microneedling procedure. If you have to go out, use a high SPF, chemical-free sunscreen.
  • Avoid swimming and tanning for one to two weeks after your procedure. The chlorine in the pool and the tanning agents can irritate your skin.
  • Avoid any skincare products meant for exfoliation. You do not want to scrub away newly formed, raw skin.
  • Keep your skin sweat-free and avoid any physical activities for a few days. The salts in the body sweat can irritate and further dry your skin out. You also may want to avoid exercising for a few days after the procedure.

Inflammation following a microneedling procedure is a necessary evil and an integral part of the healing process.

After the procedure, your skin may take about two weeks to heal and rejuvenate. In some cases, it also may take about 6 to 8 months. Burn scars can take much longer to respond to the microneedling treatment.

We will now look at the side effects of microneedling.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Microneedling?

Just as with any surgical procedure, microneedling can also cause adverse effects (3):

  • Erythema

This is a temporary effect wherein the treatment site becomes red and swollen. This skin redness after microneedling usually resolves by itself within 48 hours (4).

  • Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

When the needles used in the microneedling procedure go beyond the designated depth, they irritate the pigment-forming cells in the skin (also called melanocytes). This can result in inflammation post the treatment procedure and subsequent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This hyperpigmentation is usually transient and resolves by itself.

  • Aggravation Of Acne

The skin tends to become more sensitive after the microneedling procedure. It may also cause or aggravate acne in individuals with a history of acne breakouts.

  • Reactivation Of Herpes

Performing microneedling in individuals with active herpes is not recommended. In individuals with a history of oral herpes, microneedling may increase the risk of cold sores. In such cases, the dermatologist will usually prescribe an antiviral for one week post-treatment. If a microneedling procedure is planned in someone with active herpes, the treatment is postponed until the infection subsides.

  • Systemic Hypersensitivity

Local or systemic hypersensitivity is observed when topical products are applied before the microneedling procedure. The immunogenic components from these products may enter the dermis and cause hypersensitivity (5). They can also cause an allergic reaction.

  • Local Infection

Infections in the microneedling aftercare phase are less common but are characterized by swelling, pus, and edema on the face. The skin may also get irritated and take a longer time to heal. Infection following a microneedling procedure can occur due to bacterial, fungal, or viral infections at the treatment site.

Tram track effect

This is a type of acute erythema observed when excess pressure is applied during the microneedling procedure (or when larger needles are used) (6).

It is important you be informed of these adverse effects of microneedling. Most of these subside with time and can be prevented with the right precautions. However, there could be times when you may have to visit your doctor.

When Should You See A Doctor?

Microneedling is a low-risk dermatologic procedure that requires you to follow easy, simple aftercare steps. However, in some cases, the adverse effects may not subside and may require you to visit your doctor. These include:

  • Fever of over 100o F after the procedure
  • Hives or allergic rashes
  • Nausea
  • Yellow or green discharge from the treatment site on the face
  • Bleeding or pus discharge
  • Headaches

In Conclusion

Microneedling is a very routinely done dermatologic procedure for treating a variety of skin conditions. While advanced techniques and instruments are important for the success of the procedure, taking care of your skin post-treatment makes a huge difference to the treatment outcomes.

Take note of the insights discussed in this post. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. With the right measures, your skin can show recovery much faster.

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Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."