Can You Use Microneedling for Hair Loss?

Hair loss: a frustrating concern for both men and women caused by factors like genetics, aging, hormonal changes and stress. While there’s no miracle cure, advancements in hair loss treatments offer hope for regrowth and improved hair density. One option gaining traction? Microneedling–the same cosmetic procedure used in the popular vampire facial.

Here, we’re discussing how microneedling works, the science behind it and whether it can promote new hair growth. We’ll also discuss the different types of hair loss, compare microneedling to other treatment options and explore the factors to consider before trying it for hair regrowth.

Understanding Hair Loss 

Understanding the different types and causes of hair loss is the first step towards finding an effective treatment. Here’s a breakdown of some common types of hair loss:

  • Androgenetic alopecia: This is the most common form of hair loss, affecting both men and women. It’s characterized by gradually thinning hair on the scalp; in men, it often follows a predictable pattern, hence the nickname of “male pattern hair loss”. Genetics and hormones play a significant role in developing androgenetic alopecia.
  • Alopecia areata: This is an autoimmune disease that causes patchy hair loss on the scalp or beard. The immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, leading to sudden hair loss in round or oval patches.
  • Telogen effluvium: This is a temporary form of hair loss that can be triggered by stress, illness, childbirth or significant weight changes. Telogen effluvium typically involves overall hair thinning rather than specific bald patches.

Microneedling for Hair Loss: A Promising Option

Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is a popular skin care treatment for reducing wrinkles and improving skin texture–and now, reversing hair loss.

It involves using a microneedling device such as a dermaroller or dermapen to create micro-injuries in the scalp. This controlled injury triggers the body’s natural healing response, increasing blood flow to the area. This influx of blood delivers essential nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles, stimulating hair growth and promoting thicker, healthier hair.

How does microneedling work for hair loss?

While the exact mechanisms of microneedling for hair loss are still under investigation, research suggests it may benefit hair growth through several pathways:

  • Wound Healing Response: The tiny needle punctures created during microneedling trigger the body’s natural wound healing response. This process increases blood flow to the scalp, potentially delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles.
  • Increased Collagen Production: Microneedling may stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that supports hair follicle health and contributes to a healthy scalp environment.
  • Growth Factor Activation: Studies suggest microneedling may activate specific growth factors and stem cells that play a role in hair follicle health and development.

These combined effects may create a favorable environment for hair growth and potentially promote thicker, healthier hair. However, it’s important to note that research on microneedling for hair loss is ongoing and further studies are needed to fully understand its long-term efficacy

At-home vs. Professional Options

Microneedling therapy comes in two flavors: do-it-yourself (DIY) with a dermaroller or dermapen or going to a dermatologist or medical spa for a professional treatment. Here’s the lowdown:

At-home

At-home microneedling devices are easy to find and cheaper upfront. However, they typically use needles shorter than 0.5mm, which may not be deep enough to reach the hair follicles effectively. It is not recommended to use needles longer than 1.0mm at home due to the increased risk of side effects and complications.

To avoid infection, you must be sure to sterilize the equipment after each use, and improper use may cause scarring and bleeding.

Professional microneedling

Done by a dermatologist or other healthcare provider who knows their stuff, so it’s safer and likely more effective. They can pick the perfect needle depth for your needs and target specific areas. Deeper needles might reach the sweet spot for hair growth.

Takeaway: DIY microneedling might seem tempting, but visiting a medical spa or dermatologist is a safer bet. They can personalize your treatment and minimize the risk of any nasty side effects. After all, messing with your scalp can lead to scars, so best leave it to the experts!

Who is a Good Candidate for Microneedling Hair Loss Treatment?

Microneedling for hair loss may be a suitable option for a variety of individuals, but some factors can influence its effectiveness:

  • Type of Hair Loss: Microneedling may be most beneficial for androgenetic alopecia (male and female pattern baldness) and may offer some benefits for alopecia areata. It’s generally not recommended for scarring alopecia.
  • Severity of Hair Loss: Microneedling may be more effective for individuals with mild to moderate hair loss. Those with extensive hair loss may see limited improvement.
  • Overall Health: Microneedling is not recommended for people with certain skin conditions or uncontrolled medical conditions. Consult with a dermatologist to determine if microneedling is safe for you.
  • Realistic Expectations: Microneedling is not a miracle cure, and results can vary. It may take several treatment sessions to see noticeable improvement, and ongoing maintenance treatments may be needed.

Consulting with a dermatologist is the best way to determine if microneedling is the right approach for your specific hair loss concerns. They can assess your hair loss type, severity and overall health to create a personalized treatment plan.

What to Expect During a Microneedling Treatment Session

A professional microneedling treatment for hair loss performed by a dermatologist typically involves the following steps:

Pre-treatment Consultation: During an initial consultation, your dermatologist will discuss your hair loss concerns, medical history and expectations. They will examine your scalp and determine if microneedling is an appropriate treatment for you.

Needle Length Selection: The dermatologist will choose the appropriate needle length based on your specific hair loss type and desired outcome. Shorter needles (around 0.5mm) are typically used for the scalp, while deeper needles may be used in other areas.

The Microneedling Process: The scalp area will be cleansed and sanitized. A topical numbing cream may be applied to minimize discomfort. The dermatologist will then use a dermapen to create controlled micro-punctures in your scalp. The microneedling process itself typically takes around 30 minutes.

Post-treatment Care: Your dermatologist will provide specific instructions on caring for your scalp after treatment. This may include avoiding sun exposure, using gentle skincare products and avoiding strenuous activity for a short period.

Side Effects and Risks of Microneedling for Hair Loss

Microneedling is generally considered a safe and well-tolerated procedure. However, like any medical procedure, there are potential side effects to be aware of:

  • Temporary Redness and Swelling: Microneedling can cause temporary redness, swelling and pinpoint bleeding. These effects typically subside within a few hours.
  • Discomfort: You may experience some discomfort during the microneedling procedure, especially if deeper needles are used. Topical numbing cream can be applied beforehand to minimize discomfort.
  • Infection: Proper hygiene and following aftercare instructions are key to minimize the risk of infection. Your dermatologist will provide specific instructions on caring for your scalp during the healing process.

Microneedling Enhanced: Adding PRP and PRF

Microneedling’s potential is significantly amplified when paired with Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and Platelet-Rich Fibrin (PRF) therapies. These treatments utilize the healing and regenerative properties of your own blood components to potentially stimulate hair follicle activity and promote hair growth.

How it works

PRP involves extracting a concentration of platelets from your blood, which are known to be rich in growth factors essential for tissue repair and cell growth. This concentrated solution is then applied to the scalp following a microneedling session, allowing the growth factors to penetrate deeply through the microchannels created.

Process

First, a small sample of your blood is collected and then spun in a centrifuge to isolate the platelet-rich plasma. Then, your provider performs the microneedling treatment as usual, creating tiny punctures on the scalp to initiate the body’s natural healing process. Finally, the prepared PRP is applied to the scalp, where it can seep into the deeper layers through the microneedling-induced channels.

Adding PRF into the mix

Platelet-Rich Fibrin (PRF) is similar to PRP but involves a slower, gentler centrifugation process. This method preserves more white blood cells and stem cells, resulting in a fibrin matrix rich in platelets. PRF releases growth factors over a more extended period, potentially offering sustained benefits for hair growth.

When combined with microneedling, PRF can enhance the regenerative process by providing a steady supply of growth factors. This sustained release helps in maintaining the stimulation of the hair follicles over time, potentially improving the overall efficacy of the treatment.

Takeaway: While PRP offers an immediate boost of growth factors, PRF contributes a prolonged release, together fostering an environment that may encourage hair density and thickness. This synergy makes microneedling with PRP and PRF a promising option for those seeking advanced solutions for hair regeneration.

How Many Microneedling Sessions Will I Need?

The number of sessions needed varies depending on your individual situation. Typically, dermatologists recommend a series of four to six sessions, spaced four to six weeks apart, to see optimal results. However, factors like the severity of your hair loss and your response to the treatment can influence this number. 

How Much Does Microneedling for Hair Loss Cost?

The cost of a microneedling hair loss treatment can vary depending on factors like the geographic location, the dermatologist’s experience and the number of treatment sessions needed. Generally, you can expect to pay several hundred dollars per session.

Dermarolling vs. Microneedling for Hair Restoration: What’s the Difference?

While both dermarolling and microneedling can be beneficial for overall skin health, their effectiveness for hair restoration differs slightly. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:

Device: Dermarollers are handheld rollers with hundreds of fine needles. Microneedling, on the other hand, is usually performed with a motorized pen with a disposable cartridge containing microneedles.

Needle depth: A dermaroller is easier to use at home, thanks to its rolling mechanism. However, needle depth is limited. For hair restoration, deeper microneedling (around 1.0 mm to 1.5 mm) is generally considered more effective. Dermarollers typically have a shallower needle depth (0.25 mm to 2.0 mm), potentially limiting their impact on hair growth.

Precision: Additionally, dermarollers can be less precise when targeting specific areas on the scalp, especially near the hairline. Microneedling pens offer more control, allowing professionals to focus on areas with hair loss.

Takeaway: While dermarollers might be a more affordable option, microneedling offers greater precision, control over needle depth and potentially better results for hair restoration, especially when performed by a professional.

Microneedling vs. Alternative Hair Restoration Treatments

Microneedling isn’t the only weapon in the fight against hair loss. Here’s how it stacks up against some popular FDA-approved alternatives:

Oral and topical treatments

Minoxidil and finasteride are two well-established hair loss medications available in various forms, including topical solutions and pills.

Minoxidil functions by enhancing blood flow to the scalp, promoting hair growth. On the other hand, Finasteride targets hair loss at its hormonal source by inhibiting the action of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), a hormone associated with male pattern baldness.

These treatments are suitable for individuals experiencing androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as pattern baldness. Minoxidil can be used by both men and women, whereas Finasteride is primarily recommended for men due to its mechanism of action on male hormones.

Hair transplant

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure aimed at providing a permanent solution to hair loss. It involves relocating hair follicles from dense areas to balding or thinning regions of the scalp.

The process involves extracting healthy hair follicles and implanting them in areas where hair is sparse. This method ensures the transplanted hair will grow in the new location, as these follicles retain their resistance to balding.

Hair transplants are an excellent option if you’re seeking a long-term solution to hair restoration. It is particularly suited for individuals ready to invest in a more costly and permanent method, with the understanding that some recovery time will be necessary.

Combination therapy: Better together

Interestingly, studies suggest that microneedling may enhance the effectiveness of treatments like topical minoxidil. Microneedling creates channels in the scalp, potentially allowing for better absorption of topical medications. Discuss this possibility with your dermatologist to see if combination therapy could be a good fit for your needs.

Takeaway

Microneedling offers a promising, minimally invasive approach to hair loss. Studies suggest it may stimulate hair growth, particularly for androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata. It may be used alone as a monotherapy or combined with other hair loss treatments like minoxidil or PRP for potentially enhanced results.

While microneedling shows promise, ongoing research is needed to fully understand its long-term efficacy and ideal treatment protocols. If you’re considering microneedling for hair loss, consult with a dermatology expert to discuss your options and determine if it’s the right approach for you.

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