Image: Kari Perrin

If you are looking for an option to reduce fine lines and wrinkles besides Botox, microneedling might be the alternative for you.

Microneedling uses a tool that places acupuncture-size needles into the surface of your skin, promoting collagen production and natural healing, which makes skin more elastic and youthful. Since we are staying at home and wearing masks, it could be the right time to recover from this noninvasive and effective treatment. Kimberly Marlow of Sarasota Facial Aesthetics says microneedling can benefit anyone with wrinkles or scars.

"It is great at resurfacing skin, helping your body heal itself and minimize scars, including acne scars," says Marlow.

How does the treatment work? When clients first arrive at Marlow's office, they have the option to prep their skin with hyaluronic acid or platelet-rich plasma, which is drawn prior to their treatment. Using your own plasma as a healing agent can make it more effective without chemicals and additives, according to Marlow.

After that step, a disposable cartridge with 12 acupuncture-size needles is maneuvered in a cross-hatch motion around the face. The needles go from half a millimeter to 2.5 millimeters deep. The deeper the needles, the more collagen production occurs.

"There are different types of tools we use, depending on how aggressive you'd like the treatment," says Marlow. "We have one tool with machine-driven force up to 12,000 revolutions per minute."

How does microneedling improve skin? "The treatment creates micro injuries in the skin to induce the body's natural healing process. The body will produce collagen to that affected area, laying down elastin fibers like a tight web of skin, "says Marlow. "This fills out wrinkles and lines, improving the look and texture of skin."

While Botox injects a substance into your muscles, microneedling does not require the injection of additives and only affects the surface of the skin. Marlow says Botox can create a paralyzing effect, freezing muscles so you can't frown. Over time, however, the effect will wear off.

Marlow says three microneedling treatments seems to be the "magic number," with sessions scheduled a month apart. "Most people have three treatment and then quarterly maintenance," says Marlow. "As we age, cellular turnover slows down, so we find we have to do treatments more often to wake collagen back up."

A microneedling session takes between 45 minutes and one hour. Clients receive a powerful numbing cream, so you don't feel pain. The aesthetician can add more cream as pain arises, but it should be minimal, like a pinch. After you are done with the treatment, it will feel like you have a sunburn for three or four days. Expect peeling and flaking of the skin as it heals. While you will notice results after the first week, clients should expect peak results after four weeks.

"Keeping your skin hydrated after treatments is really important, because it does dry out skin," says Marlow. "We provide a take-home kit of products to use to hydrate and cleanse the skin properly."

Microneedling can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,400 for a course of treatment, depending on how many treatments you get, and whether you are using platelet-rich plasma to enhance the healing process. Botox, in comparison, costs about $12 per unit, so microneedling is slightly more expensive.

"This treatment is like using stem cells in surgeries to speed up healing time," says Marlow. "Using your body's own plasma, injecting it intra-dermally and then receiving microneedling provides a greater chance of getting deep into the skin to do major repair work."

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