Microneedling Side Effects

Microneedling Side Effects: A Complete Guide

Updated on March 14, 2023, by Don Mehrabi

The appearance of our skin impacts not only our confidence in ourselves but also how other people perceive us. Acne scars, enlarged pores, stretch marks, and wrinkles often make people feel self-conscious about their skin’s uneven appearance. Fortunately, there are ways dermatologists can help alleviate these skin conditions to improve your appearance. 

One common procedure they use is microneedling—a non-invasive procedure usually performed in the dermatologist’s office. And while the thought of needles puncturing your skin may make you have second thoughts, microneedling isn’t painful and, in most cases, produces excellent results. But there’s a catch: the procedure might have some side effects. This post will discuss microneedling and microneedling side effects you should be aware of. 

Overview of Microneedling – What is It and What are Its Benefits 

Microneedling (also known as percutaneous collagen induction therapy) is a procedure used to enhance collagen production using small, sterilized needles that make precise, microscopic punctures in the skin. To numb pain during the procedure, doctors generally apply a topical anesthetic cream to the treated area. 

Microneedling works by stimulating the skin to naturally repair itself through a process known as dermal remodeling. This process starts with inflammation, stimulating the skin to produce new collagen. 

Microneedling is used to treat various skin conditions, such as surgical scars, acne scars, enlarged pores, burns, stretch marks, and wrinkles that cause depression in the skin. In addition, this procedure is sometimes used to help topical skin treatments penetrate the skin more effectively. One example is the application of the hair loss medication minoxidil. 

The benefits of microneedling treatment include the following: 

  • Reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Lessening the appearance of scars, such as acne cars
  • Minimizing enlarged pores
  • Smoothing uneven skin tone
  • Decreasing the appearance of melasma and hyperpigmentation 
  • Lowering the appearance of stretch marks
  • Improving skin elasticity
  • Promoting hair growth in alopecia patients

Unlike laser and chemical peel treatment, microneedling usually has a shorter recovery time. Treatments are scheduled biweekly during the initial phase, repeated every 6-12  months for maintenance.

side effects of micro needling

Common Side Effects of Microneedling

Like other cosmetic procedures, microneedling has side effects. The procedure causes short-term redness, swelling, and skin flaking, often lasting a few days. You should call your doctor immediately if you notice more severe side effects, such as bruising, bleeding, peeling, and infection. 

That said, most people return to wearing their makeup within a day of treatment. However, the skin will be more sensitive to the sun, so it’s advisable to apply sunscreen. 

Microneedling isn’t for everyone. For instance, people with oral herpes or active inflammatory acne shouldn’t undergo this treatment until the lesions have cleared because it may worsen active breakouts. Other people who may not be an ideal candidate for this procedure include: 

  • Those with certain skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis 
  • Those who recently had radiation therapy 
  • Those who have a history of skin scars

Also, pregnant women must be cleared by a gynecologist or obstetrician before undergoing the treatment. 

Risks that May Occur From Microneedling 

As mentioned earlier, microneedling side effects can cause swelling, redness, and skin flaking in the short term. However, people undergoing the treatment risk experiencing more severe side effects such as bleeding, bruising, peeling, and sometimes skin infections. Other microneedling side effects include: 

  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Skin irritation
  • Temporary or permanent nerve damage that could result in numbness or pain 
  • Skin irritation 

It’s recommended that you check with your doctor before undergoing the treatment to determine if it is safe for you. Remember, the procedure isn’t for everyone, and people with certain conditions are more likely to experience severe side effects. 

What Happens During the Treatment Process 

First, your doctor cleans your skin and then applies a numbing cream such as lidocaine gel. They do this approximately 30 to 45 minutes before the procedure for the cream to take effect. 

Next, the doctor will either use an electric tool or a handheld roller for the procedure. Suppose they use a roller (it has tiny needles); they gently roll it across your skin to make wounds. If they use an electric device, the needles on it will pulp up and down, puncturing your skin. The doctor can change the length of the needles on the electronic device. Longer needles may be necessary, especially if you have pockmarks and scars from acne. 

During the procedure, you might feel a scratching sensation on your skin. In addition, some patients feel discomfort when the needles reach near their bones. Deep microneedling might cause some slight bleeding. 

The microneedling procedure can take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the area being treated. 

microneedling side effect

What to Expect After the Microneedling Process 

Here is the general timeline of what you should expect after your microneedling appointment: 

Immediately after the treatment: You should expect your skin to look red right after the treatment. The level of redness may vary depending on a person’s natural response to treatment. Pinpoint bleeding may be present.

Three to five days after the treatment: The skin begins to peel during this period. The peeling is normal and shouldn’t be cause for any concern. It occurs because of the increase in cell turnover. Avoid picking at your skin during this period. Rather, keep it moisturized. 

One week after the treatment, some patients will begin noticing some improvements in the appearance of their skin. The initial results typically include reduced acne visibility, improved skin tone, and improved skin texture. However, some patients have to wait longer to start noticing improvements. 

Three to six after the treatment: Most patients start seeing the result in full at this time. However, some patients might need to wait longer to see improvements in their skin. For the best results, it’s recommended that you avoid exposing your skin to the sun and follow a healthy skincare regimen. 

Generally, most people need multiple microneedling treatments, often 3 to 8 weeks apart. Doing so not only wakes dormant collagen-producing cells but also rebuilds the skin’s foundation. You might, however, have to wait about 3 to 6 months to see the treatment’s full effects. Afterward, you may need to undergo the treatment once or twice a year to maintain the results. 

Tips to Minimize Microneedling Side Effects and Avoid Complications 

Microneedling treatment is usually safe when administered by a trained professional. However, even the most qualified microneedling professionals can’t prevent the side effects. Given the increased sensitivity of your skin, avoid exposure to the sun and strenuous activities such as working out that could make you sweat. Here are other tips for minimizing the side effects and avoiding complications following a microneedling treatment: 

  • Avoid using skincare products containing strong, active ingredients: You might have to put some of your skincare products on hold, including skincare resurfacing acids, strong exfoliants, and Vitamin C. This is because they might irritate your skin.
  • Use a mild moisturizer and Cleanser: As your skin heals from the micro-injuries, it might feel and look dry, itchy, and flaky. Applying a mild moisturizer can keep your skin hydrated, while a mild cleanser can keep bacteria at bay.
  • Keep the treated area clean: The micro-injuries on your skin can act as channels that allow bacteria to enter your skin, causing infection. As a best practice, don’t touch your face without washing your hands, avoid swimming until your skin heals completely, and wash the treated area with lukewarm water.
  • Use collagen-stimulating peptides and growth factors: Growth factors and peptides can increase collagen production and accelerate the healing process.
  • Don’t scratch your skin: If the treated area becomes itchy, don’t scratch it. Instead, use a cool compress.
  • Hydrate: Drink a lot of water and use mild hydrating lotions so your skin can heal as efficiently as possible.
  • Avoid makeup during the first two days of the procedure: You may use the less irritating mineral makeup after a few days.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol: Smoking and drinking can derail skin repair and collagen induction. As such, you shouldn’t smoke or drink alcohol for at least two weeks following your procedure.

minimize microneedling side effects

What To Do If You Experience Adverse Reactions or Results

After the treatment, you might experience some microneedling side effects, such as redness, flaking, dry skin, and peeling. However, these side effects are common after the procedure and should not be cause for alarm. But you should call your doctor immediately if you notice more severe side effects such as bruising, excessive bleeding, persistent skin irritation, or permanent numbing or pain in your nerves. 

Similarly, if the microneedling treatment brings adverse results to your skin, such as discoloration or transient hyperpigmentation, you should call your doctor for help. 

BHSkin Can Help You with Microneedling Recovery 

Microneedling is an excellent non-invasive procedure that can help improve the appearance of your skin. However, there are some side effects. It is important that after the treatment, you take measures to minimize the microneedling side effects and avoid any complications. But if you experience any severe side effects, you should call your doctor for help. 

Our microneedling recovery regimen focuses on promoting skin rejuvenation while preventing unwanted microneedling side effects. At BHSkin, our award-winning dermatologists can help ensure that your skin heals nicely after the microneedling treatment so you achieve your desired appearance. Book an appointment today at our Encino or Glendale clinic or our virtual portal for consultation. 


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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