By Dr. Jay Lucas, MD | Knoxville, Tenn.
What is micro-needling?
Micro-needling is a non-surgical technique that is applied to the skin after being prepped with a lidocaine gel to create numbness. The process utilizes a power handpiece to create tiny channels into the dermis of the skin, which initiates the body’s natural healing process to create collagen and elastin. The end result is to improve skin texture with reduction of the crepey appearance and minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, as well as diminishing the hyperpigmentation of skin. This form of collagen induction is created by a mechanical force delivered to the dermis to allow improvement in acne pock marks and can weld stretch marks together by creating collagen bridging.
Where can this technique be utilized?
The power hand piece can be applied to the entire face, neck, décolleté, arms, hands, legs, and abdomen. Anywhere the skin is structurally weak or there are stretch marks, contour deformities, such as divots, and wide depressed scars. Our practice has noticed that diminished pigmentation can occur even though it is not a skin resurfacing technique. Also, improved dermal thickness may reduce the appearance of small capillary vessels in the skin. We have also been very pleased with the reduction in vertical lines seen around the mouth after several sessions.
How many treatments are required?
The micro-needling technique of creating channels in the dermis is very similar to the technology of the Fractile LASER, which utilizes a thermal injury mechanism but at a much smaller price point. Just as the LASER takes a series of treatments, so does the micro-needling technique. It can be anywhere from three to six sessions depending on severity. The Lucas Center, Plastic Surgery can define for you how many sessions are right for you during a consultation. Once the final result is achieved we generally recommend one to two sessions a year for maintenance of the outcome.
What downtime can someone expect?
After the session, you can expect to be red for a period of up to five days, but you can wear mineral makeup starting the next day to hide the color. Many patients can expect to be able to go out to dinner the following night. People may experience some light burning, tightness, and mild flaking. Noticeable difference in the texture of the skin will occur within a couple of weeks.
The following is an important note to someone who has undergone a fractile LASER technique: Due to the thermal nature of the injury, you may experience more pain, swelling and redness than micro-needling, and you will not achieve better results. The main difference is that you will expect to pay substantially more for the LASER treatment.
Specifically with The Lucas Center, Plastic Surgery, PLLC
The technique of micro-needling is a concept that has been evolving for over ten years. Initially, a simple hand roller with tiny short needles was employed. It has now progressed to the current elecric hand pieces with adjustable needle lengths to customize the depth for each patient. Ideally, the needle should penetrate no deeper than the epidermal-dermal junction.
At The Lucas Center, we utilize the Eclipse Micropen Elite system. Our medical aesthetician, Rebecca Ludwig, or our aesthetic nurse, Tammy Asbury, will enhance the results by utilizing the small channels formed by the needles to drive in growth factors, such as Skin Medica’s TNS recovery complex, in order to improve the quality of the body’s own repair process. During the first pass of the session, hyaluronic acid is driven into the skin to improve the hydration and quality of the dermis. Remember, micro-needling is a process, but results can vary depending on whom is performing the technique. All providers are under the supervision of Jay H. Lucas, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon and member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Getting old is not for wimps! Many people are embracing the fact that aging is inevitable, but looking old is not an option. Our skin is one of the largest organs of our body and provides a natural defensive barrier to the outside world. It can project either a state of vibrant health or, not taken care of, it can give the illusion of a tired, worn-out person who is otherwise very healthy on the inside.
Skin is constantly being barraged with the damaging effects of the sun’s UV light, harsh weather conditions, firsthand or secondhand smoke, internal free radicals produced from our metabolism, and, of course, the dreaded effects of 24/7 gravity forces pulling the skin in unwanted positions. What makes matters worse is the internal clock of our body, producing programed skin and fat atrophy no matter how much care we take to protect our skin. Yes, it can be a gloomy picture of steady decline, but the Baby Boomer generation has always had high expectations for everything, including maintaining excellent health. If we are going to take fastidious care of our internal organs, then let’s also consider the wellbeing of our skin as well.
As a plastic surgeon’s office, we have all the tools for both surgical and non-invasive techniques to provide patients with good options to restore and maintain their skin. First, there is no single technique to restore the skin to a youthful appearance. Goals and treatment vary depending on the age of the patient.
For people in their early 20s and 30s, we recommend the use of good sunscreen, along with periodic light peels to keep the skin clean and avoid acne and associated scaring. For those in their 30s, we often recommend the prophylactic use of a neurotoxin such as Botox to keep underlying over-activity of the muscles of the brow and eyelids from causing deep wrinkles over time.
If significant sun damage has already occurred, skin care with retinoids and vitamin C can help in conjunction with more moderate level peels.
If acne scaring with pitting occurred in the twenties, then a combination of skin resurfacing and micro-needling to build up the dermal thickness with collagen can improve skin appearance.
For people in their 40s and early 50s, we suggest improving skin tone with micro-needling. Peels are helpful in addition to volume restoration with agents such as hyaluronic acid fillers to enhanced lost fat volume in the cheeks, lips, and around the eyelid bags. Neurotoxins take on a bigger role in modulating the facial muscle tone to enhance the shape of brows and minimize fine lines in the upper third of the face.
Once one reaches the late 50s and beyond, not only is good skin quality important, but offsetting the effects of time and gravity by surgical repositioning of tissues of the brows, eyelids, face and neck may become necessary to maintain a vibrant representation of how you truly feel inside.