What is Microneedling?
Microneedling is a minimally invasive facial treatment that creates micro-channels in the skin that jump-start its healing and regenerative process. It utilizes twelve sterile needles working at a depth range of 0.5mm – 2mm to target the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin. Unlike ablative treatments, such as lasers, dermabrasion and chemicals, that remove layers of the epidermis, microneedling is non-ablative and keeps the stratum corneum (epidermis) and the skin barrier intact. Meaning, it allows for scar less wound healing.
When the needles pierce the keratinocytes (skin cells), growth factors and cytokines are released. These proteins stimulate fibroblasts to make new collagen and elastin, improve cell-to-cell communication to coordinate healing activity, break down scar tissue and thicken the epidermis. Microneedling at the top layer of the dermis (dermal papilla) increases oxygenation, removal of toxins and exchange of nutrients. These improvements to skin functionality result in thicker, tighter skin, restored elasticity, lightened pigmentation, reduced pore size, softened scarring and smoother texture. Making microneedling a great treatment option for multiple skin concerns such as acne scarring, wrinkles and fine lines, loss of elasticity and hyperpigmentation.
Stem Cells vs Platelet Rich Plasma with Microneedling
At Skin Studio Beauty Co. we perform our microneedling treatments with human-derived bone marrow stem cells. A stem cell is a cell that can replicate itself or differentiate into different kinds of tissues and cell types. Bone marrow stem cells are the only ones that are mobile and can control healing in all tissue, including the skin. They release growth factors and cytokines to coordinate collagen production, repair and reconstruct tissue and turn off inflammation. Making them an important topical ingredient to maximize healing. An important thing to remember is inflammation is pro-aging, it will break down collagen faster and age the skin at a quicker rate. The more we can do to reduce inflammation the better.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) involves a dermatologist taking your own blood, separating the plasma portion and microneedling it into your skin. The plasma contains growth factors and cytokines to treat acne scars, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. However, plasma contains many proinflammatory cytokines and growth factors,2 whereas the growth factors of bone marrow stem cells are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation can cause swelling which can give the appearance of things being smoothed out and a plumping effect, but when that inflammation goes away there is underlying damage left. A study looked at the difference between microneedling with hyaluronic acid and microneedling with PRP to treat acne scars. Both produced desirable results with insignificant (<0.05) difference between the two.1 So yes, PRP has been shown to treat many skin concerns but it is still activating those inflammatory pathways and at Skin Studio, we find it counter-productive and costly ($950-1200 for one PRP treatment vs $300 stem cell treatment at Skin Studio), especially if there is a way to treat skin concerns without activating the destructive nature of inflammation.
Blog by written by Stephanie Byrne.
1Amer, A., Elhariry, S., & Al‐Balat, W. (2020). Combined autologous platelet‐rich plasma with microneedling versus microneedling with non‐cross‐linked hyaluronic acid in the treatment of atrophic acne scars: Split‐face study. Dermatologic Therapy, 34(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.14457
2Pochini, A. de, Antonioli, E., Bucci, D. Z., Sardinha, L. R., Andreoli, C. V., Ferretti, M., Ejnisman, B., Goldberg, A. C., & Cohen, M. (2016). Analysis of cytokine profile and growth factors in platelet-rich plasma obtained by Open Systems and commercial columns. Einstein (São Paulo), 14(3), 391–397. https://doi.org/10.1590/s1679-45082016ao3548