Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Derma Rolling Bad For You?

Also Known As: Microneedling, Skin needling



Short answer

Derma rolling can be beneficial for skin health by stimulating collagen production, improving texture and tone, and enhancing product absorption. It may also reduce the appearance of scars, hyperpigmentation, and stretch marks. However, it carries risks such as infection, scarring, and hyperpigmentation if not performed correctly. Sterilization is crucial. Professional treatments offer greater safety and efficacy, especially for more significant skin concerns.



Long answer

Potential Benefits of Derma Rolling for Skin Health

Derma rolling, also known as micro-needling, is a procedure that involves using a small roller with tiny needles to prick the skin. This might sound counterintuitive, but these micro-injuries can potentially benefit the skin in several ways. As someone who's always searching for strategies to enhance overall well-being, incorporating derma rolling into your skincare routine might offer the following health-related perks:

1. Collagen Production Stimulation

Studies have indicated that micro-needling stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which are essential proteins for maintaining skin's elasticity and strength. Increased collagen can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and skin laxity, which is exciting for those of us not quite ready to embrace every sign of aging just yet.

2. Improvement in Skin Texture and Tone

Regular use of a derma roller is associated with an improvement in overall skin texture and tone. This could mean a smoother complexion and a more even skin coloration, aspects of skin health that can mirror our internal vitality to the world.

3. Enhanced Absorption of Skincare Products

Derma rolling temporarily creates very small channels in the skin, which can aid in the absorption of topical skincare products. This can potentially increase the effectiveness of these products, making your carefully curated skincare regimen work even harder for you.

4. Reduction in Hyperpigmentation and Acne Scars

For individuals struggling with hyperpigmentation or the lingering marks of past acne battles, derma rolling may contribute to a reduction in these frustrating skin issues. It's encouraging to know that there may be a way to diminish these concerns, promoting not just skin health but also emotional well-being.

5. Potentially Beneficial for Scar Treatment

Beyond acne scars, derma rolling might improve the appearance of other types of scars, except for keloids. This is notable for those seeking a minimally invasive treatment option to make scars less noticeable, although more research is warranted to understand the extent of derma rolling's efficacy in scar treatment.

6. Possible Improvement in Stretch Marks

Stretch marks, while a natural part of many life experiences like pregnancy or weight fluctuations, may be reduced in severity through derma rolling, which is a beacon of hope for many looking to regain skin uniformity.

When considering the benefits of derma rolling, it's also important to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional, especially because this technique isn't suitable for everyone and carries potential risks if not performed correctly. My mantra? Balance is key. While the above potential benefits are promising, always weigh them against your individual skin type and health needs, and never shy away from seeking professional advice.

Lastly, let's remember that skin health is just one facet of our overall well-being. A glowing complexion may boost our confidence, but it's the practices we maintain for our physical and mental health that truly make us shine from the inside out.

Risks and Side Effects of At-Home Derma Rolling

While derma rolling can offer benefits like improved skin texture and reduced scarring, it's not without its risks, especially when done at home. The absence of a sterile environment and proper training can lead to several side effects and complications. Identifying potential issues helps you make an informed decision on whether at-home derma rolling is suitable for you.

Skin Irritation and Infection

One of the most immediate concerns with at-home derma rolling is the risk of skin irritation and potential infection. Piercing the skin opens up channels that are vulnerable to bacteria. Improper sanitization of the roller or your skin can lead to infections. Moreover, using needles that are too long or applying too much pressure can cause excessive redness, swelling, and even bleeding.


The objective of derma rolling is to promote skin healing, yet ironically, if not done correctly, it may cause scarring. Using a derma roller with needles too large for your skin type or rolling too aggressively can result in micro-tears that scar when healed.

Allergic Reactions

Some individuals may have allergic reactions to the metals used in derma rollers, particularly nickel. Those with metal sensitivities should avoid certain derma rollers or conduct a patch test before full-face use to ensure no adverse reactions occur.


People with darker skin tones are at risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. When the skin is injured, which essentially is the purpose of the derma roller, it may produce an excess of pigment during the healing process, leading to uneven skin tone, which can be permanent.

Worsening of Skin Conditions

Those with active acne, eczema, or other inflammatory skin conditions may experience a worsening of their conditions post-derma rolling. The tool can spread bacteria across the face, leading to breakouts, or exacerbate sensitive or compromised skin conditions.

Contamination and Blunt Needles

Using an unsterile or worn-out derma roller can introduce bacteria or fungus into the skin, aside from the device being less effective. Needles can become blunt with repeated use, causing more harm than good by tearing the skin rather than puncturing it cleanly.


Post-derma rolling skin is more sensitive to the sun, increasing the risk of sunburn and sun damage. Using a high SPF sunscreen after treatment is crucial, but those unable to commit to sun protection may want to reconsider their use of at-home derma rolling.

In conclusion, while the allure of at-home convenience and cost savings is strong, these risks and side effects underscore the importance of considering professional treatment or at least seeking thorough education and training before attempting derma rolling on your own. Listening to your skin's response and giving it the care it needs after derma rolling are also pivotal in avoiding the negative side effects.

Professional vs. Home Use: Safety and Efficacy

When considering derma rolling, it's essential to weigh the differences between professional treatments and at-home use. Both avenues offer benefits, but they differ significantly in terms of safety protocols, effectiveness, and the expertise required for optimal results.

Professional Derma Rolling: Key Benefits and Safety

  • Expertise: Dermatologists and licensed estheticians are trained in skin anatomy and sterile techniques. Their familiarity with the derma rolling process ensures a lower risk of complications such as infections or scarring.
  • Advanced Equipment: Professionals often use medical-grade derma rollers with longer needles capable of reaching deeper layers of skin, which can produce more pronounced results in terms of collagen production and the treatment of deep scars or wrinkles.
  • Sterilization Protocols: Medical environments adhere to stringent sterilization processes to prevent cross-contamination and infection, making the procedure safer for clients.
  • Individual Assessment: Each session usually begins with a personalized skin assessment, ensuring the treatment is tailored to the client's skin type and concerns, thus enhancing efficacy and minimizing adverse reactions.

At-Home Derma Rolling: Convenience with Caveats

  • Accessibility: At-home derma rollers are widely available and can be used at the user's convenience, fitting seamlessly into daily routines.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Home treatments are generally more affordable than professional sessions, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious individuals.
  • Control: Users have full control over the frequency and intensity of treatments, allowing for personalization in a comfortable environment.
  • Risks: Without proper sterilization and technique, there is an increased risk of skin damage and infection. Additionally, at-home devices typically have shorter needles which may not be as effective for more severe skin issues.

Studies show that, while both professional and at-home derma rolling can enhance skin texture and appearance, professional treatments are often more effective for significant skin issues due to the use of longer needles and more advanced techniques. A 2018 study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that participants receiving professional microneedling treatments reported higher satisfaction with the results compared to those using at-home devices.

In conclusion, while home derma rolling devices provide a convenient and cost-effective alternative, safety and efficacy are paramount. Adopting proper technique and hygiene when using at-home rollers is critical to minimize risks. Conversely, professional treatments offer a higher level of safety and efficacy, particularly for treating more pronounced skin concerns. Therefore, individuals should consider their specific needs, skin goals, and the importance of safety protocols when deciding between professional and at-home derma rolling.

Sterilization and Infection Control in Derma Rolling

One of the paramount concerns when considering the safety of any skin invasive procedure is the prevention of infection. Derma rolling, also known as micro-needling, involves using a small handheld device equipped with numerous tiny needles. These needles create minuscule punctures in the top layer of the skin, which can pose a risk of infection if proper sterilization and infection control measures are not followed.

Firstly, let’s talk about sterilization. Derma rollers must be adequately sterilized before every use. This is typically achieved through the use of medical-grade disinfectants or by soaking in isopropyl alcohol. Users must strictly adhere to the sterilization instructions provided by the derma roller manufacturer to ensure all microbes are eradicated from the device before it touches the skin.

  • Soak the derma roller in a disinfectant solution for the time recommended by the manufacturer—usually around 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Allow the derma roller to air-dry on a clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel to prevent contamination from bacteria or particles.
  • Avoid sharing derma rollers, as this practice significantly increases the risk of cross-contamination and infection.

Secondly, it is vital to maintain a clean working environment. Ensure that the surface area where the derma rolling will take place is disinfected and that clean gloves are worn during the procedure. Skin should be cleansed thoroughly with a gentle, antimicrobial wash before derma rolling to minimize the risk of pushing bacteria into the puncture sites.

Additionally, post-care is just as critical for infection control. After derma rolling, the skin is more susceptible to infection due to the tiny injuries created. Users should apply an antibacterial or healing serum recommended for post-micro-needling care to facilitate proper healing and further protect against infection. It's paramount to follow a well-established post-care routine:

  • Gently cleans the skin using a mild cleanser to remove any serum residue and prevent clogging of pores.
  • Apply a recommended healing ointment or serum to aid in the skin's recovery process.
  • Avoid touching the treated area with unclean hands and refrain from using any skincare products not approved for post-micro-needling use.

It should also be noted that overuse of derma rolling can increase the risk of complications, including infection. Too frequent sessions can prevent the skin from healing adequately between treatments. Experts suggest allowing appropriate healing time, which typically varies from a few days to several weeks, depending on the needle length used and the intensity of the treatment.

In conclusion, while derma rolling can offer numerous skin health benefits, including improved texture and reduced appearance of scars and wrinkles, it is not without risks. Strict adherence to sterilization and infection control practices is mandatory to ensure that derma rolling is done safely. Following proper protocols minimizes the risk of infection and maximizes the treatment's effectiveness.

Remember that any signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, pus, or persistent pain, should prompt a consultation with a healthcare provider. This will ensure that potential complications are addressed promptly and appropriately to prevent further issues.

Understanding Needle Length and Skin Damage Potential

When it comes to derma rolling, a crucial aspect to consider is the length of the needles you're using. The needle length can not only affect the efficacy of the treatment but also has a direct impact on the potential for skin damage. As a lifestyle expert focusing on health and well-being, the following details offer insights into the balance between providing benefits and avoiding potential harm.

Needle Lengths and Their Uses

  • 0.25mm: This needle length is considered safe for home use and is meant for improving product absorption rather than collagen induction.
  • 0.5mm: Also safe for home use, these needles can start to stimulate collagen production and can help in reducing fine lines and superficial scarring.
  • 1.0mm: Best used with professional guidance, 1.0mm needles can target deeper wrinkles, scarring, and can promote more pronounced collagen synthesis.
  • 1.5mm and above: These lengths are typically reserved for medical professionals due to the increased risk of skin damage and infection.

Risks Associated with Longer Needles

  • Infection: Longer needles can create deeper micro-wounds, which if not properly cared for, could become infected.
  • Scarring: If used incorrectly or too frequently, longer needles might increase the risk of developing scars instead of treating them.
  • Pain and Discomfort: Longer needles can be more painful and may require a numbing cream to mitigate discomfort during the procedure.
  • Hyperpigmentation: Especially for those with darker skin tones, deeper penetration might lead to hyperpigmentation issues.

It's vital to be aware that the depth of needle penetration correlates directly with the risk of adverse effects. For those considering derma rolling at home, sticking to shorter needles (0.25mm to 0.5mm) is generally recommended as it balances efficacy with safety. Clinical studies, including a 2017 research published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, have demonstrated the effectiveness of shorter needles in skin rejuvenation with a low risk of complications.

Best Practices for Minimizing Skin Damage

  • Always ensure your derma roller is sterile before use to prevent infections.
  • Begin with the shortest needle length to see how your skin reacts before considering longer needles.
  • Do not use a derma roller on active acne or inflamed skin to avoid further damage.
  • Follow a derma rolling routine that allows ample time for your skin to heal between sessions.
  • Consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional to receive personalized advice based on your skin type and concerns.

Understanding the relationship between needle length and the potential for skin damage is critical. While derma rolling has its advantages, it's important to undertake the procedure with respect to the skin's well-being, aligning with both your health and beauty goals. A thoughtful and educated approach to choosing needle length will help ensure that you can reap the benefits of derma rolling without compromising the integrity of your skin.

Guidelines for Safe Derma Rolling Practices

Derma rolling, a form of microneedling, promises a variety of skin benefits, from reducing the appearance of scars to improving skin texture. Yet, the process involves rolling small needles over the skin, which without proper care, can introduce risks. So, let's talk about how to incorporate derma rolling into your skincare regime safely. Because even the best skincare practices can come with caveats, and it's crucial to minimize any potential harm.

Choosing the Right Derma Roller

  • Needle Length: Opt for shorter needles (0.1mm-0.3mm) for home use; longer needles are for professional use only.
  • Quality Matters: Select a roller with needles made from durable materials, such as stainless steel or titanium, to prevent bending or rusting.
  • CE Marking: Verify that the product has a CE marking, indicating that it meets the EU standards for health and safety.

Sterilizing Your Derma Roller

  • Alcohol Soak: Immerse the roller head in 70% isopropyl alcohol for 5-10 minutes before and after each use to sterilize.
  • Air Dry: Allow the derma roller to air dry on a clean tissue to avoid contamination.
  • Do Not Share: Sharing increases the risk of infection. Your derma roller should be for your use only.

Prepping Your Skin

  • Cleanse Thoroughly: Use a gentle cleanser to remove all makeup, oils, and dirt from your skin.
  • Disinfect: Apply an antiseptic spray or similar solution to the area you plan to treat.
  • Patch Test: Start with a patch test on a discreet area of skin to ensure you don't have an adverse reaction.

The Application Process

  • Light Pressure: Use gentle pressure; the goal is not to cause pain or bleeding.
  • Consistent Motion: Roll in a methodical pattern: vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, to cover all areas evenly.
  • Time Interval: Most experts recommend waiting at least four weeks between sessions for longer needles, and one week for shorter ones to allow the skin to heal.

Post-Rolling Care

  • Soothe the Skin: Use a calming serum or hyaluronic acid post-treatment to soothe the skin and promote healing.
  • UV Protection: Avoid direct sunlight and apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect the new skin layer from UV damage.
  • Avoid Active Ingredients: For a few days post-rolling, avoid using skincare products with active ingredients such as retinoids or vitamin C, which may irritate the skin.

Lastly, it's worth noting that certain skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, or active acne breakouts, can be exacerbated by derma rolling. Consulting with a dermatologist prior to beginning derma rolling, especially if you have an underlying skin condition, is a crucial step in your journey toward safe and effective skincare.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the potential benefits of derma rolling while minimizing the risks. Keep in mind, though, that not all skin types will react the same way, and patience is key. Improvements to the skin's appearance and texture happen over time, and a gentle, consistent approach often yields the best results.

Frequently asked questions

While derma rolling can be part of a comprehensive skincare regimen, it's important to exercise caution when combining it with other treatments like chemical peels or laser therapy. These procedures can also sensitize the skin, so they should not be performed close together in time. A professional can help stagger these treatments appropriately to avoid over-stressing the skin.

Derma rolling may provide some benefits for under-eye bags and puffiness by promoting circulation and collagen production, which can improve skin elasticity. However, caution should be taken when using a derma roller around the delicate eye area, and needle length should be minimal (no more than 0.25mm). It's always best to consult with a professional before starting treatments for sensitive areas.

Results from derma rolling can vary depending on individual skin type, the condition being treated, and the frequency of use. Generally, some individuals may start to see improvements in skin texture and tone within several weeks, but more significant results, like reductions in deep scars or wrinkles, can take several months of consistent treatment to become apparent.

Individuals with certain skin conditions, such as active acne, eczema, psoriasis, or those with a history of keloid scarring, should avoid using a derma roller. People with compromised immune systems or open wounds should also abstain. It's always advisable to consult with a dermatologist before starting derma rolling to ensure it's appropriate for your skin type and condition.

Ask a question about Derma Rolling and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • skin irritation
  • infection
  • redness
  • swelling
  • bleeding
  • allergic reactions
  • scarring
  • hyperpigmentation
  • skin condition worsening
  • photosensitivity

Possible long-term side effects

  • permanent hyperpigmentation
  • scarring

Ingredients to be aware of

  • nickel


  • stimulates collagen and elastin production
  • improves skin texture and tone
  • enhances absorption of skincare products
  • may reduce hyperpigmentation and acne scars
  • beneficial for scar treatment
  • may improve appearance of stretch marks

Healthier alternatives

  • professional microneedling
  • proper skincare regimen
  • using products with collagen and elastin
  • gentle exfoliants
  • chemical peels

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 02-17-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 02-17-2024

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