Feb 9, 2023

Dermapen Facial 101

What is the Dermapen facial, and is it better than other methods of microneedling?

Formulate user Heather has some questions about the Dermapen facial:

I have previously had chemical peels and microdermabrasion done. I would like to try microneedling. I've heard that the Dermapen facial is the best - is it? I have also been told by other sources that I can get as good of results at home by using a dermaroller. Is that true? What happens during a Dermapen facial vs when you use a regular dermaroller?

Thanks for writing, Heather!

To explain what the Dermapen facial is, we first need to discuss what is microneedling, and what is dermarolling, the other method by which microneedling is delivered.

What is microneedling?

Microneedling is a process in which tiny needles are pushed into the surface of the skin. These needles create small punctures in the skin, prompting it to create additional elastin and collagen. The additional collagen can be helpful to treat skin concerns, such as: 

  • Acne scarring
  • Stretch marks
  • Sagging skin
  • Sun damage & discoloration
  • Dull, blemished skin
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Enlarged pores

What is dermarolling?

When microneedling is performed at home, it is typically completed by using a dermaroller. Dermarollers are small, hand held devices that are rolled across the surface of the skin. As the device is rolled on the skin, short needles that are affixed to the roller peirce the surface of the skin. 

Dermarollers are rarely recommended by skincare professionals or dermatologists, for multiple reasons. 

"The mini-rollers available for at-home use are light years behind the kind of microneedling you'll receive with a doctor or licensed medical spa professional," shares licensed aesthetician Crystal Francis. "They drag and tear the skin, leading to unwanted surface damage and possible scarring."

Because the needles are rolled onto the skin, they create trenches that are unnecessarily wide and can take a long period of time to heal. The needles on dermarollers are also typically very short, between 0.25mm to 0.5mm long, so they have limited effectiveness.  

 "In a doctor's office, you'll receive a deep and effective treatment in a sanitary medical environment," says Francis. "At home, you'll be putting yourself at risk of infection, while never seeing the type of results that are possible with an advanced medical microneedling device." 

Derma rollers are difficult to dully disinfect, and many users do not attempt to disinfect them at all. As the device punctures the skin multiple times, the individual using the roller is at high risk of infection. 

Dermarolling vs professionally provided microneedling

When done by a professional, microneedling is typically delivered via a small handheld device that is pen shaped rather than roller shaped. While derma rollers are manually rolled across the skin, professional tools stamp the skin with needles mechanically, using a spring mechanism. 

"Medical-grade devices allow for far more precision to suit facial contours or other special treatment areas," shares Francis. "They produce a more controlled up and down 'stamping' motion to create straight, consistent micro-injuries which are gentler on the skin, allowing your skin to heal faster and deliver greater long term benefit."

She continues, "Professional devices can also safely go deeper than at-home devices, reaching the next layer of skin, and thus offer heightened results. The needle can be controlled based on the individual patient's skin type, areas being treated, and the reason for seeking treatment. Lastly, they often use disposable needles to ensure treatment is always sanitary." 

The use of disposable needles is of great importance, as they massively cut down the risk of infection. They also guarantee that the tips of the needles will not become blunted from repeated use, preventing unnecessary damage to the skin. 

So what is the Dermapen facial?

There are many different types of professional grade tools that can be used by professionals to provide microneedling. Dermapen is just one of them, albeit a particularly popular one that has been approved by the FDA.

Dr. Chaudhry M.D. of Scandinavian Biolab is a big fan of Dermapen: "The device features 16 stainless steel micro-needles that move up and down at a rate of up to 1100 cycles per second, creating microscopic columns for targeted rejuvenation."

"Dermapen is quickly becoming the go-to choice for micro-needling treatments among professionals in the skincare industry," he shares. "As a doctor, I highly recommend it to patients looking to address areas of concern like wrinkles, fine lines, and uneven skin tone. It's much more effective than traditional micro needling by applying fewer strokes in a shorter time and penetrating deeper into the skin. Dermapen's oscillating motion ensures that each treatment penetrates the skin at optimal depths, enabling the healing process to begin immediately."

That being said, not all doctors are die-hard Dermapen loyalists. Microneedling provider Dr. Michele Green says that Dermapen is a good option, but that she wouldn't automatically go for it over other automatic professional grade devices. 

"Dermapen is a great option for microneedling treatments, as are other FDA-cleared microneedling devices, such as MicroPen EVO by Eclipse. Vivace Microneedling is also an excellent, quick, and pain-free option for skin tightening and improving skin texture and acne scars. It utilizes radiofrequency (RF) energy to stimulate collagen synthesis and tighten the skin, along with the benefits of collagen induction therapy."

Microneedling provider Dr. Yelena Deshko agrees that while Dermapen can be a useful tool, it is not always her go-to. She says that many of Dermapen's most popular qualities can be found in other professional grade tools. "I prefer automated micro-needling devices over manual dermarollers for their precision, controlled depth penetration, and disposable cartridges. Many automated micro-needling devices exist on the marked which are able to offer these advantages. Therefore I cannot say that I have a preference for the Dermapen brand over other automated micro needling device brands."

What happens in a Dermapen facial?

The Dermapen facial is fairly straightforward, says Dr. Deshko.

"During a Dermapen facial, the practitioner would first apply numbing cream to the areas being treated for approximately 30 minutes. After removal of the numbing cream the skin is thoroughly cleansed and disinfected. To allow the micro-needling pen to glide smoothly on the skin, sterile serums containing active ingredients (such as hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C) are applied to the skin. The practitioner then selects the desired level of penetration of the micro-needles depending on the areas being treated and the patient's skin concerns.

"The practitioner uses the Dermapen to make several passes on the treatment area using either gliding or stamping motions. After the micro-needling is complete, a soothing mask is applied to calm the skin and reduce redness. This can either be a sheet mask, or LED phototherapy mask." After these steps, the facial is completed. 

The takeaway

Dermapen is a popular and professional grade microneedling device. It may be able to help with concerns such as acne scarring, stretch marks, sagging skin, sun damage, wrinkles, and enlarged pores. The Dermapen facial is one that you can only receive in a licensed provider's office, such as an esthetician or a dermatologist. It involves your skin first being numbed, and then being penetrated hundreds of times with tiny needles to prompt your skin to create new collagen. Some providers recommend Dermapen above other microneedling devices, while others don't. Check in with your provider to see what they would recommend for you and your specific skincare concerns. 

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