Microneedling aftercare

Microneedling Aftercare and Recovery: Recommendations that Will Get You the Best Results

Updated on June 28, 2021, by Don Mehrabi

Microneedling is a quick in-office procedure suitable for a wide variety of skin problems. It is otherwise called “collagen induction therapy,” as it stimulates the natural skin repair processes to produce collagen and new skin tissue.

The microneedling aftercare regimen focuses on promoting skin rejuvenation and preventing unwanted side effects. In this article, we explain the recovery process after having this treatment and what you can do to enhance its effectiveness.

recovery from microneedling

What Is Microneedling and How Does It Work?

In a microneedling procedure, the specialist uses a handheld device that passes rows of sterile, small needles on the skin. The tiny wounds stimulate inflammation, initiating the events that lead to skin renewal and collagen induction.

At the end of your treatment, new skin cells, which are softer and lighter in color, replace damaged tissues. Increased collagen production smoothens fine lines and coarse wrinkles by filling up the deeper skin layers and elevating the surface. You will see your skin regaining its youthful glow.

For the treatment of scar tissue, the microneedling device breaks up malformed collagen and stimulates skin remodeling. It can reduce raised scars and puff up depressed ones.

Aside from skin rejuvenation and scar treatment, microneedling is also suitable for the following conditions:

  • Blackheads
  • Some cases of unwanted pigment
  • Stretch marks
  • Sun damage
  • Loose skin
  • Hair loss
  • Health conditions needing medications to penetrate the tough skin barrier

Microneedling may be combined with other treatments, e. g. PRP therapy, hyaluronic acid injection, chemical peel, laser resurfacing and others to enhance its effects.

What Happens During a Microneedling Procedure?

During your microneedling session, the doctor will clean up the treatment area and apply some numbing cream on it. The medication takes 30-60 minutes to work. Once the site feels numb, the dermatologist will start using the microneedling instrument on your skin. The procedure itself usually takes about 15 minutes.

Is Microneedling Painful?

Microneedling treatment is painless because of the local anesthetic applied at the start of the session. You may feel some dull pressure on the area, but it will not hurt. Once the numbing cream wears off, you may feel some tenderness and tightness, which may last for a few days. Most people can tolerate the discomfort or minimize it with Tylenol, but you must tell your doctor if you experience severe pain.

What Are the Risks of Microneedling?

The expected side effects of skin needling treatment are mild tenderness and tightness, swelling and redness at the site. All of these are part of the normal inflammatory process, which is necessary for inducing skin repair mechanisms. Vulnerable people may notice some bruising. These changes may last 2-3 days.

The following can also occur, but the odds are very low:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Infection
  • Worsening of the initial skin condition
  • Profuse bleeding

Call your doctor if you observe any of these microneedling side effects.

What Can You Expect During Your Recovery from a Microneedling Treatment?

Here, we discuss the most important aspects of microneedling recovery that patients usually ask about.

How Long Is the Downtime for Microneedling?

The downtime for this procedure is minimal. Inflammation is at its peak in the first 2-3 days, so the skin is highly sensitive at this time. Your doctor may advise you to avoid strenuous activities during the first few days after treatment to reduce the risk of skin irritation, trauma and bruising.

How Long Does It Take to See Results from Microneedling?

The timeline of the effects of microneedling varies from person to person. However, most people will notice skin flaking and peeling starting 3 days after their microneedling session. These changes are normally observed when the skin is trying to repair itself.

You may notice some improvement of your skin’s tone and texture as early as 2-3 weeks after your first session. The maximal effects typically occur after 3 months, when collagen has fully formed. Multiple microneedling treatments have additive effects—they give better results that last longer.

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How Many Microneedling Sessions Does It Take to See Results?

The number of microneedling sessions you need depends on the skin condition you want treated, its severity and your skin’s response to the treatment. Initially, most patients will need 4-6 sessions spaced 3-4 weeks apart to see significant improvement. The results last for several months, so the treatments become less frequent over time.

For maintenance, some may need a session every 3 months, but others may only require it once or twice a year.

Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure. Most patients go through it without problems, although some health conditions may delay one’s recovery. Your dermatologist will examine your medical history to see if this treatment is right for you. If it is not, they will recommend a suitable alternative to ensure the safety and effectiveness of your skin rejuvenation therapy.

Microneedling before & after

What Should You Not Do After Microneedling?

Restricting certain activities and exposures is part of your microneedling aftercare regimen. They include the following:

  • Sun exposure. Healing skin is light-sensitive and can stay that way for months to years. You must stay out of the sun whenever possible or wear sunscreen if you need to go outdoors.
  • Substances that can disrupt collagen induction. They include blood thinners, pain relievers that are classified as NSAIDs and some herbal supplements.
  • Direct skin contact with irritants and unclean surfaces and liquids. Open wounds become pathways for chemicals, dirt and microbes that can sensitize the immune system and delay the healing process. Doing the following helps you prevent complications:
  • Avoid non-prescribed skin treatments until your dermatologist clears you to use them. Some examples are retinol and other vitamin-A-like medications, topical vitamin C, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids.
  • Do not pick on your skin or let dirty makeup applicators, masks, phones, etc. touch your face.
  • Avoid makeup during the first 2 days after the procedure. You may use mineral makeup after a few days, which is less irritating for healing skin.
  • Stay away from swimming pools for a few days as they are also filled with irritants and microbes.
  • Extremes of temperature, which can also inhibit immune cell activity and the healing process. You must avoid them for the first 1-2 days after your microneedling session. Likewise, refrain from activities that can make you sweat, e. g. exercise and sauna bathing, for about one week or until the inflammation and flaking subside. Sweat irritates the skin.
  • Smoking and alcohol, which can delay skin repair and collagen induction. Do not smoke or drink alcohol for at least 2 weeks after your treatment.

Avoiding these things will help you ward off complications that can slow down your recovery, make the procedure fail or worsen your skin problem.

What Should You Do After Your Microneedling Session to Get the Best Results?

For the rest of your microneedling aftercare instructions, your doctor may include the following:

  • Application of hyaluronic acid serum on the treated skin during the first few hours, followed by a mild moisturizer or steroid cream in the next 2-3 days.
  • If prescribed, treatment with a topical antibiotic to prevent infection.
  • Use only a gentle cleanser. Wash and dry the treated area with as little pressure as possible to prevent trauma.
  • When sleeping, lie on your back with your head elevated to reduce pressure and bruising on the treated site. You may have to sleep in this position for one week.
  • Eat healthfully and stay hydrated to promote healing.
  • You may resume your usual skincare routine after one week or until the inflammation has resolved.

Good aftercare is only one of the things you can do to get the most out of your medical microneedling treatment. Choosing the right dermatologist to perform this procedure also plays a huge part in its success. To get the best results, trust only a highly trained skincare professional.


Microneedling is a skin rejuvenation procedure that uses controlled injury to induce tissue renewal. It is also known as “collagen induction therapy” because it increases collagen formation. It is suitable for a wide range of skin conditions and may be combined with other treatments to enhance its cosmetic effects. Its side effects are mild, and the downtime is minimal. Microneedling is generally safe and effective, but it is not for everyone.

The aftercare regimen requires avoidance of certain activities and exposures and completing the doctor’s prescribed treatments. Good aftercare is crucial to the success of your microneedling treatment. However, to ensure the best results, you will never go wrong when you choose a board-certified skincare expert to perform this procedure.

Because “Gorgeous without Makeup” Is Our Specialty

You may have been born with beautiful skin, but it takes great effort to keep it that way. Over time, stress, sun damage, scars and inappropriate treatments can take away your natural radiance.

Why hide your flaws behind cosmetics when you can let LA’s top microneedling experts eliminate them? At BHSkin Dermatology, our award-winning dermatologists can keep you looking gorgeous, even without makeup. Book an appointment today at our Glendale or Encino clinic or our virtual portal for your first consult.

Microneedling Recovery and aftercare


Author: Don Mehrabi

Don Mehrabi, MD, FAAD, is LA’s leading board-certified dermatologist who treats patients, builds the BHSkin clinics, and raises three kids. This blog builds on medical studies combined with Dr. Mehrabi's first-hand experiences from practicing in Encino-Tarzana, Glendale, and online

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