Skin Needling for acne scarring

Skin needling reduces atrophic or indented acne scarring through stimulation of new collagen.

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

Dr. Gavin Chan

Templestowe Lower and Berwick Clinics

Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2004, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction, fat transfer, skin needling, and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections.
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Skin Needling: How it works

Skin needling is a non-laser treatment for acne scarring.

Skin needling uses minute punctures to the skin using precision medical micro-needles attached to a highly-engineered roller to induce collagen growth. Collagen growth is the key to skin repair.

There is less risk of skin pigmentation changes compared to laser treatment, and this is particularly relevant for patients with olive or darker skin colouring.

Skin needling is a leading clinical choice for acne scar reduction. It has been performed for many years, and has gained a lot of credibility.

Victorian Cosmetic Institute most often uses a cylindrical roller with micro-needles that are rolled over the skin after adequate local anaesthesia to numb the skin. This method was popularised by Dr. Desmond Fernandez, a well-known and regarded plastic surgeon, and is faster and more effective than other methods of skin needling.

  • Anaesthetic is injected into the skin prior to the procedure. The procedure is sometimes performed with other methods of sedation.
  • The skin-needling roller is then passed over the treatment area multiple times
  • Skin needling can be used to improve the above skin conditions with less risk of skin pigment changes, especially with olive/darker skin types that commonly occur with laser treatment
  • The recovery time is usually 7-10 days
  • Usually 2-5 sessions are required for the optimal results
  • Home skin needling kits are a less aggressive option for daily use.

Skin needling: before and after treatment

skin needling before imageskin needling after image

More detail about Skin Needling

The micro-needles cause thousands of stimulating dermal “injuries” to the skin. This induces a natural response that produces new collagen. The production of new collagen continues for up to 12 months after the procedure. Depressed acne scars, wrinkles, skin texture and tightness are all improved as a result.

At Victorian Cosmetic Institute, we are qualified and trained to use needles up to 3mm, which are the longest needles available for skin needling. There are a variety of skin needling procedures offered by various clinics which differ in degrees of intensity. However, experience has lead VCI to recommend skin needling treatments on the more aggressive side of the spectrum. We achieve better results with fewer treatments.

Our treatments begin by the application of local anaesthetic cream to the treated area for one hour. Local anaesthetic injections are then administered to numb the treated areas. After these local anaesthetic injections are given, there is no sensation from the actual skin needling. It is also possible to use inhaled anaesthetic gas or some light anaesthetic/intravenous sedation in conjunction with the above to help reduce any discomfort.
The skin roller is rolled over the skin multiple times to induce thousands of microscopic injuries to the skin. This is the longest part of the procedure, and takes up to 2 hours for a full face.
After skin needling, it is possible to add topical retinoids other medical grade skin care to the skin to further enhance the effects of skin needling and collagen production. A dressing is then applied to the skin, as there can be some weeping of the skin post skin needling. This is removed after 24 hours.

Read more about very comprehensive information about acne scarring.

Generally, you will experience some redness of the skin for up to one week after the procedure and time off work may be needed at this time.  There is also a large amount of swelling that can persist for a few days. For about 24 hours post skin needling, there may be some weeping/oozing of the skin. A dressing is applied for 24 hours to help with this. If you are prone to cold sores, the healing area may become infected if you have a cold sore breakout during this period. Bacterial infection is also possible but very unlikely. As the skin is not removed, scarring is extremely rare. Some people develop milia (small white dots) on the skin as it heals. These can be removed easily.  Also temporary acne-breakouts may occur after treatment.

The face, hands, neck, back and chest can be treated with skin needling, but most commonly the face is treated only.

skin needling case study 1 pre treatment

skin needling case study 1 post treatment

skin needling case study 1 pre treatment

skin needling case study 1 post treatment

This patient presented for skin needling for acne scarring on the cheeks. He also had some generalised volume loss in the cheeks. He had a total of 3 skin needling treatments combined with fat transfer to the cheeks. The results were very significant, and the acne scarring was dramatically reduced. The time period between the before and after photos are about 6 months.

This female presents to Victorian Cosmetic Institute with concerns about her acne scarring. She had a total of 3 skin needling sessions over the period of approximately one year. The after photo shows a picture of her skin approximately 6 months after the last skin needling treatment. As can be seen, there is a dramatic improvement in skin texture and a reduction of the acne scarring.
Skin Needling Case Study - Before treatment

Skin Needling Case Study - After treatment

Asian female acne scarring before skin needling

Asian female acne scarring after skin needling

Asian female acne scarring before skin needling

Asian female acne scarring before skin needling

This patient presented for treatment of acne scarring on the cheeks with skin needling. She was of asian background. A total of two skin needling treatments were performed over the course of 1 year, and the results were seen above.



Skin needling

skin needling


Patient presented with acne scarring and post-inflammatory pigmentation from acne  and was treated with 4 sessions of  skin needling using 1.5mm needles. This was a relatively non-invasive procedure with only a short downtime per session. Only topical anaesthetic was used.

Skin needling is particularly suited to those with male and female acne scarring, fine lines, and for people looking to improve skin texture and tightness. It can be used on all skin types from light to dark skins.
As opposed to laser treatment of skin, there is less chance of pigmentation problems after treatment.
Skin needling is not suitable for people who have open cuts, wounds, sun-burnt skin, and those who are pregnant or lactating.

The skin needling treatment offered at Victorian Cosmetic Institute with the 3mm skin rollers is strictly an in-clinic procedure. However, we do offer skin rollers with 0.2mm needles that can be used on a daily basis at home. There is no downtime associated with their use, and any redness experienced post treatment is usually very transient. Although, not as aggressive as the in-clinic version, these rollers are still effective when used regularly. They also are useful when used just prior to the application of skin care products such as topical retinoids (vitamin A). The needles create very small holes in the skin to help the penetration of skin care products and therefore their effectiveness.

To purchase the home skin rollers from our online store, click here.


The Fraxel and fractional carbon dioxide lasers are lasers that have a ‘fractionated’ delivery of laser energy to the skin. In other words, the whole skin surface is not treated. Individual columns of laser energy are fired into the skin, each penetrating up to 2mm. This stimulates collagen production and helps with problems such as as acne scarring, wrinkles and pigmentation. With darker skin types especially, there is a chance that these laser treatments can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which are areas of skin that have become darker than the surrounding skin due to the laser.

Skin needling in comparison, uses multiple fine needles to penetrate the skin via a roller. This causes thousands of small injuries to the skin which each penetrate slightly deeper than laser (down to around 3mm). Therefore, it tends to be more useful for acne scarring and wrinkles as it can get down to the base of the problem. There is less risk of pigmentation problems after skin needling, and it is a safe treatment even in olive or darker skin types.

The doctors at Victorian Cosmetic Institute will carefully assess the condition of your skin and your suitability for the procedure. We take ample time to prepare your skin for the procedure to make it as comfortable as possible. We use only the highest quality skin rollers to ensure the results are maximised.

The first step is simply contacting us for your initial skin needling consultation, where we will discuss with you what is a realistic and achievable outcome, and what to expect from your treatment.
Making that first phone call about any cosmetic procedure can be a confronting task – many of our patients have preferred filling out our online enquiry form. We can then contact you and gain an understanding of the results you are hopeful of achieving and ensure the treatment is appropriate.
Otherwise, you can phone us directly on 1300 863 824.
Dr. Gavin Chan
Dr. Gavin Chan

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