Does Microneedling Hurt? Are the results worth the pain?

Best microneedling pen cutera lying woman cheek bone microneedling

Considering microneedling for skin rejuvenation, but concerned about potential discomfort? You might be wondering – does microneedling hurt?

Understanding the level of pain and how to manage it is crucial before making a decision.

Whether you’re looking to address acne scars, fine lines, or uneven skin texture, gaining insights into the potential discomfort associated with microneedling can help you make an informed choice.

Microneedling involves creating tiny punctures in the skin to stimulate collagen and elastin production, which can improve skin texture and tone. While the procedure is generally not painful, some individuals may experience discomfort during the treatment.

Sensations during microneedling can vary, ranging from feeling like sandpaper to sharp discomfort, depending on individual pain thresholds and the depth of the treatment. Topical numbing cream is often used to manage any potential discomfort.

Despite the possibility of temporary discomfort, microneedling is considered a safe and effective treatment for various skin conditions, such as scars and acne, with most patients reporting minimal pain during the procedure.

The ultimate results of microneedling can include younger and smoother-looking skin.


Understanding Microneedling

Microneedling, often referred to as collagen induction therapy or skin needling, is a cosmetic procedure gaining prominence in the realm of skincare and beauty. The fundamental principle of microneedling revolves around stimulating the body’s natural healing process to foster skin rejuvenation. Essentially, it’s all about encouraging the skin to do what it does best – heal itself.

The Science Behind Microneedling

Microneedling works by harnessing the body’s innate wound healing process. The procedure involves making numerous, controlled, tiny perforations in the skin using a microneedling device. Though these are minor ‘injuries’ to the skin, they are enough to trigger the body’s wound healing mechanism. This process involves inflammation, proliferation, and tissue remodeling – all culminating in the production of collagen and elastin.

Collagen and elastin are essential proteins that provide the skin with its structure, elasticity, and firmness. As we age, the production of these proteins dwindles, leading to wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin. Therefore, by stimulating their production, microneedling helps to reduce the signs of aging, resulting in fresher, younger-looking skin.

Different Microneedling Devices

There are several types of microneedling devices ranging from derma rollers to automated pens. Derma rollers look like miniature paint rollers with a surface covered in tiny needles. They are gently rolled across the skin, creating micro-injuries that stimulate healing and regeneration.

On the other hand, automated microneedling pens feature disposable needle tips that move in an automated, vibrating motion. The depth of needle penetration can be adjusted, allowing for a tailored approach based on individual skin needs and treatment areas. These pens offer more precision and can access hard-to-reach areas with ease.

You can learn more about the differences between microneedling devices and their benefits in our detailed comparison of microdermabrasion vs. microneedling.

Benefits of Microneedling

Microneedling serves numerous benefits that contribute to its growing popularity. Here are a few:

  • Improves skin texture: By promoting collagen and elastin production, microneedling can enhance skin texture, making it smoother and more supple.
  • Reduces signs of aging: The procedure can soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by naturally rejuvenating the skin.
  • Fades scars and evens skin tone: Microneedling can reduce the visibility of acne scars and hyperpigmentation, contributing to a more even skin tone.
  • Enhances absorption of skincare products: By creating microscopic channels in the skin, microneedling enhances the absorption and efficacy of topical skincare products.
Best microneedling pen session chin woman

Credit: Vivace Experience

The Experience of Microneedling

The idea of microneedling may sound intimidating because most of us aren’t used to the idea of intentionally creating wounds on our skin. However, it’s important to understand what you can expect before, during, and after a microneedling session to help alleviate any apprehensions.

Preparing for a Microneedling Session

Preparation for a microneedling session begins at home, a few days before your appointment. It typically involves:

  • Avoiding direct sun exposure or tanning beds to prevent sunburn.
  • Ceasing the application of any topical retinoids, as they can increase skin sensitivity.
  • Taking a break from any blood-thinning medications or supplements, unless prescribed by your doctor.

On the day of the procedure, the skin will be thoroughly cleaned and a topical numbing cream may be applied to minimize any discomfort during the session.

What Happens During the Procedure

During the procedure, your skincare professional will use a microneedling device to create tiny punctures across your skin. The depth of needle penetration will be adjusted based on the areas being treated, with deeper penetration for areas with more noticeable skin issues, like scarring.

A session typically lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes, and a hydrating serum or calming balm is usually applied afterward to soothe the skin and promote healing. While the procedure might cause mild discomfort, many people often find it more tolerable than expected.

Post-Treatment Sensations

Immediately after the procedure, the skin may feel and appear slightly red – this is completely normal. People often describe their skin as feeling sunburned, tight, or sensitive to the touch. You may also notice slight swelling.

The redness and sensitivity usually begin to subside after a few hours and completely disappear within 24 to 48 hours. Any swelling should also reduce within this timeframe. During the healing process, it’s essential to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun.

Remember, everyone’s experience with microneedling can slightly vary. So, while microneedling has a reputation for being relatively painless, your personal experience can depend on your pain threshold and the expertise of the practitioner.

Best microneedling pen microneedling image

Credit: Cutera, Brisbane CA

Factors Affecting Pain Perception

While many people consider microneedling a manageable procedure when it comes to discomfort, individual experiences can vary widely. Several factors contribute to how pain is perceived during microneedling – including one’s pain threshold, the use of topical anesthetics, and the adjustable factors of the procedure like needle depth and speed.

Individual Pain Thresholds

Individual pain thresholds play a significant role in how one perceives pain during a microneedling session. Essentially, some people are more sensitive to pain than others. For individuals with a lower pain tolerance, the sensation caused by the microneedling process may feel more intense. However, many describe it as a feeling of light sandpaper being moved across the skin. It’s also worth noting that sensitivity can vary across different parts of the face and body, which means certain areas may be more comfortable to treat than others.

Use of Topical Anesthetics

Most practitioners use a topical anesthetic to numb the treatment area and mitigate any pain during the procedure. These creams are usually applied 30 to 60 minutes before the treatment starts, providing numbness that makes the process much more comfortable. For individuals who are particularly concerned about the potential discomfort, discussing these concerns and the use of topicals with the practitioner ahead of time can help ensure a more comfortable experience.

Needle Depth and Speed

The depth of the needle penetration and the speed at which the microneedling device is moved across the skin can also influence the sensation felt during the treatment. A deeper needle penetration might lead to more discomfort but could also result in more significant results, especially when addressing issues like deep acne scars or severe skin damage. The speed of the device can have similar effects – a faster speed might mean more punctures and potentially more discomfort, but might also mean quicker sessions overall. The best practitioners adjust these parameters based on the client’s comfort level and the specific goals of the treatment.

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Credit: Cutera, Brisbane CA

Microneedling and Skin Conditions

Microneedling is increasingly recognized for its ability to mitigate a myriad of skin conditions. Whether you’re dealing with acne scars, hyperpigmentation, or uneven skin texture and tone, microneedling could serve as an effective solution. To better understand how it can chip in, let’s deep-dive into the specifics of these skin-condition treatments.

Treating Acne Scars

Acne scars are one of the most common reasons people turn to microneedling. When the skin is punctured during the treatment, it launches a wound-healing response. This process leads to the formation of new collagen, which can help reduce the appearance of both atrophic and hypertrophic acne scars over time. Microneedling can break up fibrous and uneven scar tissue and stimulate the growth of new tissue. Cumulative sessions can lead to significant improvements in the smoothness of the skin and a reduction in the manifestation of acne scars.

Addressing Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation, characterized by dark patches on the skin, is often caused by an excess production of melanin. When performed correctly, microneedling can help disperse the pigment and brighten your complexion. The increase in collagen and elastin production can also contribute to healthier, more resilient, and evenly-toned skin. In conjunction with the right brightening skincare products, microneedling could help reduce the visibility of hyperpigmentation to a great extent.

Improving Skin Texture and Tone

With its ability to stimulate collagen and elastin production, microneedling can significantly enhance the texture and tone of your skin. Regular sessions can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, resulting in a smoother and firmer complexion. The procedure is also known to reduce enlarged pores, giving the skin a more refined appearance. Combined benefits lead to improved skin texture and a more youthful, radiant skin tone.

Recovery and Aftercare

Understanding the recovery process and aftercare is crucial when considering any cosmetic procedure, including microneedling. Proper care can influence not only the comfort level after the treatment but also the ultimate efficacy of the procedure.

Immediate Post-Treatment Care

Immediately after the microneedling procedure, the treated skin areas may have a red appearance, similar to a mild sunburn, and feel slightly sensitive or tight. Applying a gentle, hydrating serum or cream can help soothe the skin. Avoid washing the face or applying make-up for at least six hours after the treatment, which allows your skin to initiate its natural healing process undisturbed. It’s also essential to avoid any harsh skin care products for a few days to prevent irritation.

Long-Term Skin Maintenance

Once the immediate healing process is complete, maintaining the achieved results becomes key. Routinely moisturize the skin and apply sunscreen liberally to protect the fresh, susceptible skin against damaging UV rays. In addition, incorporating skincare products containing hyaluronic acid or peptides can assist the skin in retaining its vibrancy and suppleness. Lastly, maintaining a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can also contribute to healthy, glowing skin.

Managing Side Effects

Although microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure, there could be some minor side effects in the days following the treatment. These may include skin dryness, flaking, and slight swelling, especially in the initial healing stage. It’s normal for these effects to occur as your skin repairs and rejuvenates itself. For any more severe or enduring side effects, it’s crucial to seek medical opinion promptly. Remember, it’s important to avoid any scratching or picking at the skin to prevent infection or scarring during the recovery period.

Studies and Findings

A number of clinical studies and research have been conducted on microneedling, shedding light on its efficacy, patient satisfaction levels, perceived discomfort, and comparison with other skin rejuvenation techniques.

Clinical Research on Microneedling Efficacy

Multiple studies have validated the efficacy of microneedling in treating a myriad of skin conditions such as leading to significant improvement in the appearance of post-acne scars and microneedling’s effectiveness in skin tightness and texture improvement, leading to overall facial rejuvenation.

Patient Satisfaction and Reported Pain Levels

Research shows that the majority of people undergoing microneedling report satisfactory or even excellent results with patient satisfaction rates of over 80%. As for pain levels, most patients find the procedure tolerable. The use of topical anesthesia and professional handling play important roles in managing discomfort during the procedure.

Comparison with Other Skin Rejuvenation Treatments

Microneedling has been compared with a range of other skin rejuvenation treatments. In comparison to laser treatments, microneedling is typically gentler on the skin with shorter recovery time, and it can be safely used on all skin types without the risk of hyperpigmentation. According to some studies, microneedling showed similar results to fractional laser treatments in acne scar management, but with fewer side effects and complications. Hence, microneedling may be preferable for patients seeking efficient results with minimal downtime and side effects.

Best microneedling pen cutera lying down women forehead

Credit: Cutera, Brisbane CA


  • While microneedling may sound intimidating, the procedure is generally well-tolerated owing to factors like the use of topical anaesthetics and personalized handling of needle depth and speed.
  • Individual pain threshold, the area of treatment, and the professional’s experience are significant aspects affecting pain perception during a microneedling session.
  • Post-treatment sensations are similar to sunburn and typically subside within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Microneedling has shown promising results in mitigating acne scars, addressing hyperpigmentation, and improving skin texture and tone.
  • Pre-session preparation, immediate post-treatment care, long-term skin maintenance, and managing side effects form an integral part of the microneedling process.
  • On-going research and clinical studies indicate a high satisfaction rate amongst those undergoing microneedling treatment, and the procedure’s efficacy in treating various skin conditions is well-documented.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does microneedling hurt?

Microneedling may cause some discomfort, but it is generally tolerable. Numbing creams are often applied before the procedure to minimize any pain.

What should I expect during a microneedling treatment?

During a microneedling session, tiny needles are used to create micro-injuries on the skin’s surface, which stimulates collagen production and helps improve the skin’s appearance.

Is microneedling a painful procedure?

While some people may find microneedling uncomfortable, the pain is usually manageable and temporary.

Where can I get a microneedling treatment?

Microneedling treatments are usually available at medical spas, dermatologist offices, and aesthetician clinics.

How should I prepare for my first microneedling appointment?

Before your first microneedling session, you may need to apply a numbing cream and avoid sun exposure to reduce the risk of any complications.

Can microneedling help with skin concerns like scars and stretch marks?

Microneedling is known to improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, and other skin imperfections over time.

Who should perform the microneedling procedure?

It is recommended to have microneedling done by a trained professional such as a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or licensed aesthetician for safe and effective results.

Without a doubt, the aspect of potentially experiencing pain during microneedling can seem daunting. Yet, when weighed against the benefits, it’s not surprising that microneedling is increasingly gaining popularity as a skin rejuvenation technique. Yes, the sensation can be uncomfortable for some, but with professional handling and proper aftercare, many find the procedure manageable and more than worth the discomfort.

Ultimately, whether microneedling will hurt for you depends on your individual pain threshold, the specific conditions under which the procedure is carried out, and the professional’s experience in performing the treatment. Therefore, it is prudent to have a thorough discussion regarding your concerns and expectations with a licensed practitioner before going ahead with microneedling.