2022 is undeniably the year of the scalp. Just look at the influx of ingredients and treatments typically reserved for the face that slowly work their way up to the hairline: there’s hyaluronic acid in hair care, scalp facials, and microneedling of the scalp to name but a few examples. “We have noticed that more and more people are looking to improve their scalp health to provide a healthy environment for their hair follicles,” says Abe Ayesh, CEO of Eternal and aesthetic hairwhich points to a boom in hair loss prevention treatments such as microneedling in particular.
Yes, you read that right – microneedling isn’t just for the skin on your face. “Scalp microneedling has grown in popularity in recent years, in part due to the ‘skinification’ of the scalp and hair,” says Dr. Michele Green, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, who believes your scalp should be treated like an extension of your face (which it is). His opinion ? Scalp microneedling falls into this category – a treatment that uses tiny needles to stimulate collagen and circulation to improve the overall health of your hair.
Plot? Read on to learn all about scalp microneedling, including how you can try it at home.
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Benefits of Microneedling Scalp
If you’re unfamiliar, microneedling is exactly what the name implies – but the needle part isn’t as scary as it sounds. “Microneedling is the application of a mechanical device that contains multiple needles, usually between 12 and 36, which penetrate the skin to create small – or ‘micro’ – holes”, Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, MDdual board certified facial plastic surgeon and founder of DeRosa Plastic Surgery Center and Medical Spa, says Bustle. “This controlled injury to the skin then stimulates collagen productionimproving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and scars.
With scalp microneedling, the benefits are the same in theory, but the results are unique to the area where the treatment is delivered. “When it comes to hair, stimulation of the scalp and hair follicles can increase growth factors and the circulation of nutrients to the hair, leading to increased hair growth,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian, MDgraduate dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group. It helps to promote thicker, stronger and longer hairwhich, according to Ayesh, is particularly advantageous for customers with alopecia conditionsaka a form of hair loss.
What’s more, Green adds, is that the treatment’s freshly grown elastin will help keep newly grown hair anchored to the hair follicle. Translation? Constant microneedling of the scalp can promote hair growth, promote stronger, thicker locks, and help reverse the effects of hair loss.
Who should try scalp microneedling?
Although clinical-level scalp microneedling can help anyone looking to promote hair growth, Green believes that people who are actively experiencing hair loss and/or thinning — who have also tried alternative options such as supplements for hair growth or serums for the scalp – are the best candidates for in-office treatments. “Scalp microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that must be performed by a medical professional and can be significantly more expensive than alternative options,” she points out. Typically, scalp microneedling ranges from $100 to $800 per treatment depending on where you are and the size of the area you’re treating, and can take at least three to four treatments to see results, Green says. “Each session sees continuous improvement, but at least three sessions are suggested,” she explains. DeRosa adds that it can take up to 12 weeks (i.e. the normal hair growth cycle) to really notice a difference.
DeRosa and Ayesh also note that the procedure will only work if there are hair follicles remaining in the treatment area, as this is what is being stimulated to promote hair growth. “That means the only ‘bad’ candidates for this treatment are those who are totally bald in the desired treatment area,” DeRosa explains. “For them, hair transplantation is the best option.”
Microneedling is also not recommended for pregnant women, according to Ayesh. “For everyone else, the risks and recovery time are minimal because it’s a minimally invasive procedure,” he says. As for the side effects? It may cause some redness, inflammation, pain, and slight bruising, but nothing that should last more than a few days. That said, Ayesh reiterates that you should always consult a medical hair restoration professional, as they can examine your scalp and come up with a personalized treatment plan.
Different Types of In-Office Scalp Microneedling Treatments
As is the case with facial skincare, there are two types of scalp microneedling: in the office or at home (more on that below). If your main concern is hair loss, Ayesh notes that incorporating additional treatments can improve your results — these include daily topical application of minoxidil (Rogaine), taking hair growth supplements like Nutrafol and getting concurrent clinical treatments, he tells Bustle. “Combination therapy is generally advised for optimal hair restoration results,” he says. “For those who suffer from alopecia areata or androgenic alopecia, we use the Derma pen device for hair growth, HydraFacial for the scalp to remove excess buildup, and for growth stimulation at the follicle level, we highly recommend exosomes, keralase [a laser], and injections of PRP (platelet-rich plasma). In the latter, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is isolated from your blood and then reapplied during the microneedling session, Green says — so a bit like a “vampire facial » done on your scalp.
“The PRP is rich in a variety of growth factors like transforming growth factor (TGF), which promotes the growth of new blood vessels, and keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) accelerates skin regeneration,” says Green, and so many patients choose to include PRP in their microneedling sessions to further boost their results. Note that PCP adds an additional cost to scalp microneedling, however: a combined session costs around $1,500.
Scalp microneedling at home
At-home microneedling, also known as dermarolling, is a popular alternative to in-office treatments, although not as effective. According to DeRosa, the main difference between home and office devices is how deep the needles penetrate the skin. Professional level micro-needling devices penetrate beyond the 0.3 millimeter depth in the skin, which means they go beyond the top non-living layer of the outermost layer of the skin (aka the epidermis). Thus, they are only suitable for use by medical professionals or high-level beauticians. Home rollers typically use needles around 0.25 millimeters long, which only treat the skin at a superficial level.
That’s not to say at-home devices aren’t worth it: Green says homemade dermarolling can still help boost blood flow to the scalp and boost the absorption of topical serums for skin care. hair. Green and Nazarian specifically recommend the BEAUTYBIO GloPRO facial micro-needling tool, which uses LED red light therapy and microcurrent stimulation, and has a specific attachment designed for the scalp. But don’t use just any facial dermaroller on your scalp: “It can be difficult to use a [face] dermaroller on the scalp, as the hair can easily get tangled in the tools,” says Nazarian. Look for attachments meant to treat the scalp, which are curved and glide without breaking or damaging the hair.
Otherwise, microneedling your scalp at home is easy: just start with clean hair and roll the device back and forth for about 5 seconds on each area. Then repeat a few times a week. Never roll over your scalp if it is irritated, as this can exacerbate any existing inflammation. “The at-home dermarolling process requires consistent use and must be continued long-term to maintain results,” says Nazarian. In terms of side effects, your scalp may be somewhat sensitive and tender after the treatment, but this tends to be minimal. Plus, for many, the payoff is worth it.
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Starace, M., Alessandrini, A., Brandi, N. and Piraccini, BM (2020). Preliminary results of the use of scalp microneedling in different types of alopecia. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 19(3), 646–650. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.13061
Stevens, J. (2019). Platelet-rich plasma for androgenetic alopecia: a review of the literature and a proposed treatment protocol. Int J Dermatol for women. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2018.08.004
Dr Michele GreenMD, Certified Cosmetic Dermatologist
Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, MDDouble Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Rachel Nazarian, MDa certified dermatologist
Abe Ayesh, CEO of Eternal and aesthetic hair