Skin needling Vs fractionated lasers for acne scars

Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic doctor, liposuctionist)

Templestowe Lower, Berwick and Beaumaris Clinics

Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2005, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. Read More

Sometimes, when a new technology emerges, we forget old methods and assume that ‘newer is better’.

However, this isn’t always the case!

Acne scars have been treated with a procedure called skin needling (or Roll CIT – or colllagen induction therapy) for many years. This procedure involves rolling over the affected skin with a cylindrical roller that has multiple fine needles protruding from the roller. By making multiple fine punctures in the skin, the skin is forced to produce new collagen and this leads to an improvement in scarring or wrinkles.

We have recently update our page on skin needling with a patient diary.
To view this, click here.

Fractionated lasers have been a more recent innovation that can also help improve acne scars, but is the newer option the better one? In a similar manner to skin needling, fractionated lasers create multiple small injuries to the skin to stimulate new collagen production.

However, there are various differences between skin needling and fractionated lasers and these include;

  • Deeper penetration depth with skin needling vs fractionated lasers. Our skin needling heads use 3mm needle lengths, whilst most fractional lasers only penetrate to a depth of 1.4mm. With greater penetration depths, deeper acne scars can be treated and more collagen stimulation can occurs
  • Less treatments required with skin needling – as a result of a more aggressive treatments, there may be less treatments required with skin needling. However, the total downtime may be less. If it takes 2 weeks to recover from one skin needling treatment, and 5 days to recover from a fractionated laser treatment, the total downtime may be less if only 1 skin needling treatment is required to match the results from 3 to 5 fractionated laser treatments
  • Less risk of hyperpigmentation with skin needling – as there is no heat energy involved and no thermal injury to the skin, even darker skin types can be treated with skin needling with much less risk of hyperpigmentation (darker areas on the skin after treatment) than fractionated laser treatments.