- Best Results8-12 sessions
- Treatment Recovery0-2 days
- Procedure Time5 to 30 mins
- Skin SpecialistDIY
- Duration of ResultsCan be permanent
- AnaestheticNumbing in some
- Back to WorkImmediately
Self-Harm Scars- Microneedling
Sensible microneedling using a 0.2 mm stamping device can improve early scars. If conservative depths are adhered to, this procedure can be safely performed at home. Emphasis on this DIY guide is on absolute safety & not efficacy. DIY treatments can improve early scars, promote re-pigmentation & importantly reinforce self-care & worth. Read more to understand.
FactsFacts On Microneedling for Self-harm/ cutting scars
- Microneedling can be a good treatment for early & mild cutting scars
- A stamping device is safer compared to a pen or roller for home use
- Dermapen performed in clinic only gives marginal improvements over home DIY
- Do not microneedle raised scars without anti-inflammatory drops
- Raised scars are best treated by a dermatologist
- Microneedling can augment laser resurfacing
- Wide & deep scars are best treated with surgical approaches
What types of cutting scars respond best to microneedling?
Early, flat scars respond best to microneedling. Red scars respond best to vascular lasers, raised scars are best treated with steroid injections, wide flat scars are best treated with surgery, whilst old scars best respond to lasers & micrografting.
Clinical microneedling does not give any advantages over home microneedling, as in the context of cutting scars, depth is less important. Read more to understand.
How to DIY microneedle for self-harm scars?
The first thing to consider is the depth of the device you will be using. For DIY home needling, it will be 0.2-0.25 mm, using a stamping device. A roller is the next best option, once again the depth should be around 0.2mm. Do not use longer needles, you do not need a Dermapen. The steps are as follows-
- Clean the area with disinfectant or an alcohol swab.
- Stretch the skin (ideally have someone help you).
- Stamp on the areas vertically. Do 5 to 10 passes.
- End point of needling should be very mild (if any) pinpoint bleeding
- Add some Latisse drops (Bimatoprost), source this online.
- Repeat weekly for 10 weeks.
- You can disinfect the needle you use & reuse it 2-3 times.
Why do I endorse DIY microneedling?
Firstly, I do think in the context of cutting scars/self-harm scars, depth is not relevant. Deeper scars that are hypopigmented, or wide scars will not improve even if clinical micro needling is performed, surgery is often indicated for these scars.
Secondly, the technique as described is used to stimulate collagen production & remodelling via epidermal injury, not dermal. Hence damage is confined to the upper layers.
Thirdly the described technique is designed to deliver topicals in the upper layers of skin.
Fourthly it saves patient’s time & money, giving them control over their scar journey. Not all cases will respond to DIY treatments, but it is a good starting point.
Why microneedling, how does it work?
Microneedling is a good entry level procedure that can improve mild scarring including traumatic, surfical, acne, & self-harm or cutting scars. This scar revision technique works in 4 ways-
- Release of cytokines from the top layer of skin (epidermis). This remodels abnormal collagen below.
- Breakage of scar tissue, achieved with longer needles – not for home or DIY use
- Stimulation of pigment cells to correct white scars.
- Increased absorption of growth factors, topical retinoids, anti-inflammatory molecules.
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Who should not microneedle?
If you cannot grasp the concept of safe treatments, DIY micro needling is not for you. Patients with hypertrophic or keloid scars should not microneedle at home. A dermatologist can guide you for in office procedures.
Other contraindications include infection, psoriasis & bleeding disorders.
How is clinical micro needling different from DIY?
I use skin rollers or derma rollers as my tool of choice for dermal drug delivery, whilst my nurses & therapist prefer derma pens. The reason I use rollers is that I do not need to go super deep in the context of what I employ needling for (dermal drug delivery).
Clinical microneedling differs from DIY as the needle length is usually 0.5 to 1.5 mm for the former. Don’t needle deeply at home, you are asking for trouble.
What to expect with microneedling?
Expect to see a modest improvement of scars after 12 to 16 weeks. The only way you are going to make an objective assessment is to take baseline and follow up photos. If you do not have photos, it is hard to make any comparisons. If you see an improvement, you can DIY microneedle for up to 12-14 months, as scars take up to one year to mature.
Microneedling can decrease redness, hypopigmentation, & the width of scars. If your scars become raised, you should use silicone tape (or gel, Dermatix, Strataderm). See a professional if in doubt.
What is the next step after microneedling, are lasers better?
Yes, lasers are better, however not everyone can afford laser therapy by a specialist team. Lasers are best for remodelling early red cutting scars. As a guide-
Vascular lasers treat red scars. They are best used early. Treatments are spaced between 2-6 weeks. Most patients undergo a series of 4-6 sessions. Vascular lasers do not break the skin’s surface.
Fractional lasers are best for older scars. They work by softening hypertrophic scars & can be combined with anti-inflammatory drops & injections. They are also useful in blending in the surrounding skin. These lasers include Fraxel, Clear & Brilliant, Pico, & CO2 lasers. They are associated with a healing time of 1-8+days.
What other ways are there to hide cutting scars?
There are many other ways to hide scars. You can buy yourself a tattoo sleeve. I wore this to work for over a decade as I have three quarter tattoo sleeves down each arm.
Tattoo sleeves are readily available online. They are super comfortable to wear as they are made out of lycra. Another option is to get a tattoo. Many good artists out there. Don’t be rushed about this choice, as it is important to select the right artist & design. I do think that the public’s perception of tattoos are changing, hence why I don’t need to hide my tattoos anymore.
Davin’s Viewpoint on Microneedling for Cutting Scars
Cutting scars are reminders of the past. I understand the importance of removal. For deep scars (in the deeper reticular dermis), treatments such as microneedling & superficial lasers have minimal impact.
Microneedling is best for shallow scars as well as early scarring. The depth of scarring is really hard to accurately assess, even with a real time examination. Regardless of the depth, sensible at home needling can give results in some. For resistant cases, even in clinic microneedling has limited efficacy as the linear scars (lines) extend into the deeper dermal & in some cases the fat layer. Surgical excision, with possible grafting may be required.
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