If you struggle with thinning hair, microneedling is a treatment method you should know about. Microneedling is a procedure that can be administered by a skincare professional or performed at home. Depending on which route you choose to take – professional microneedling or DIY – you may see different results.
In this post, we'll walk you through the microneedling process, as well as the pros and cons of the different types of microneedling. We'll also provide you with valuable information about the science of hair loss prevention and other treatment methods that may support hair growth.
What Is Microneedling?
Microneedling is a skin treatment that is performed using a specialized rolling tool. A microneedling tool is covered in tiny needles, which create tiny lacerations in the skin where the tool rolls over, usually the face or scalp. Microneedling can treat multiple skin problems, including hair loss. It's also often used to treat signs of aging like wrinkles and lines, along with scarring left behind by breakouts.
The small cuts created by the microneedling procedure trigger your skin's natural healing process. As your skin heals, its production of vital proteins like collagen and elastin can increase. This uptick in collagen and elastin production can strengthen your skin, keeping it healthy and strong.
In addition to stimulating collagen and elastin production, microneedling can also make your scalp more receptive to topical hair loss prevention treatments. If you are using a topical treatment like minoxidil (Rogaine) to prevent hair loss, your scalp may be able to absorb the treatment more effectively after a microneedling session.
Microneedling for Hair Loss
So, how can microneedling benefit thinning hair?
If your hair is thinning out, microneedling can help your follicles get back to their natural, healthy growth cycle.
What's Causing My Hair Loss?
A variety of factors can constrict your hair follicles, causing your hair to grow slower and thinner. One of the most common causes of hair loss is a male sex hormone, or androgen, called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT can constrict your hair follicles as your body's production of the hormone increases with age.
The constriction of your hair follicles in certain parts of your head caused by DHT is a condition known as androgenic alopecia. Also known as pattern hair loss, androgenic alopecia is extremely common in middle-aged men and women.
The microneedling process can stimulate hair growth and help treat androgenic alopecia and other types of hair loss. Microneedling can also be used alongside other hair loss prevention treatments to create a comprehensive hair care regimen.
If you are dealing with androgenic alopecia, you will likely start noticing your hair thinning out in specific parts of your head rather than going completely bald. Men with androgenic alopecia typically see the most hair loss at the crown of the head and the hairline. For women, androgenic alopecia causes thinning all over that’s commonly concentrated in their part and crown.
At-Home Microneedling Versus Professional Microneedling
Microneedling's effectiveness sometimes depending on which method of treatment you choose. DIY microneedling can be much cheaper than the professionally-done alternative, leading many people to opt for purchasing their own microneedling tools. However, at-home microneedling may not yield the same quality of results that a professional microneedling session would. This variation in quality is worth considering as you decide which type of microneedling is right for you.
In addition to potentially being less effective, at-home microneedling can also put you at risk of injuries. Being imprecise with your microneedling tool can lead to cuts, bruises, and, in some extreme cases, infection. If you are not confident in your ability to safely handle your microneedling tool, it's best to opt for seeking treatment from a dermatologist. It's not worth risking hurting yourself to save some money!
Although the risks may be higher for at-home microneedling, the cost is extremely low compared to the price tag on a professional microneedling session. At-home microneedling tools can be as inexpensive as $20. In contrast, a professional microneedling session costs $200 at the lowest, with some dermatologists charging much higher. It's also worth noting that one professional microneedling session sometimes is not enough to treat your hair loss fully – your dermatologist may recommend follow-up appointments every month or so. The cost of multiple professional microneedling sessions can be astronomical, and it makes the treatment unrealistic for many people.
Does Microneedling Hurt?
The tiny needles on the surface of a microneedling tool can hurt your skin – they are, after all, creating little wounds. However, if you opt for professional microneedling, your dermatologist can apply a topical anesthetic to your scalp to numb any pain you might feel during your treatment. In addition, a skincare professional has the expertise and practice to perform a microneedling treatment as gently and precisely as possible. At-home microneedling, on the other hand, can be especially painful if you are not careful.
However, the pain that you may feel during an at-home microneedling session is mainly dependent on how much pressure you apply when using your tool. Too much pressure may cause deeper wounds than intended, potentially leading to scarring. If you exercise caution while doing your own microneedling, you can avoid injuries and keep discomfort to a minimum.
Microneedling Safety 101
If you choose to opt for at-home microneedling, follow these simple steps to keep yourself safe and make the process as effective as possible.
- Keep your microneedling roller clean. An unsanitized microneedling tool can cause infection by introducing bacteria into the tiny cuts it creates. Before and after each use of your microneedling tool, sanitize it carefully with rubbing alcohol.
- Be gentle. Too much pressure can hurt your scalp and cause larger cuts. If you hurt yourself while microneedling, wait for your skin to heal before starting treatment again.
- Be cautious when microneedling alongside other hair loss prevention treatments. Microneedling can make your scalp more receptive to topical hair loss prevention treatments, but it can also make these treatments' side effects more severe. Minoxidil, one of the most popular hair loss prevention treatments, has been known to have the potential to dry out and irritate the scalp during treatment. These side effects may be worse when microneedling and using minoxidil at the same time.
- Condition your hair regularly. To balance out any irritation or dryness caused by minoxidil, make sure to moisturize your hair and scalp using a nourishing conditioner. GroMD's DHT-blocking shampoo and conditioner can help you keep your scalp moisturized while you use minoxidil and microneedling to promote hair growth. The DHT blockers in our shampoo and conditioner can also attack the primary cause of the most common form of hair loss among adults.
Is Microneedling Worth It?
If you are considering professional microneedling, the high cost is probably the most significant deterrent standing in your way. However, although professional microneedling can be very expensive, it can be very effective as well. If you are struggling with androgenic alopecia and are having trouble finding a treatment that works, consider looking into professional microneedling sessions with a dermatologist.
Although professional microneedling costs more than the DIY version of the treatment, it's often a better option in terms of safety and effectiveness. If your hair loss is stubborn, significantly developed, and resistant to many treatments, professional microneedling sessions administered by a skincare professional may make a major difference. Although microneedling is an investment, the price you pay amy be worth it to get a head of hair that you love. On the other hand, if you are not ready to make the significant investment of microneedling, you can still get started on your hair growth journey by switching to science-backed hair growth products like those from GroMD.
Dr. Amir Yazdan, MD, is an internationally renowned hair transplant surgeon, expert guest on Dr. Phil and The Doctors, creator of the GroMD hair restoration product line, ISHRS member, accredited member of the IAHRS and a visceral advocate for patient care. Learn more about Dr. Yazdan or read rave reviews from his patients.