Where Are We Now?
Scalp Micro-needling" is a technique whereby a controlled injury is created in the scalp. Skin injury (at least in some situations) can stimulate the production of growth factors and inflammatory cytokines that promote skin healing and possibly hair growth.
A "dermaroller" (shown in the photo) is one such device to cause controlled injury. A dermaroller consists of teeth of different lengths that are attached to a wheel. Dermarollers of 0.5 mm, 1 mm, 1.5 mm are common. These are "rolled" back and forth across the skin to create redness.
A 2013 study of 100 patients supports benefit of dermarolling. The study set out to determine in patients who use topical minoxidil (Rogaine, etc) could achieve even further benefit by dermarolling.
In the study, half the patients received daily minoxidil and the other half of the patients received weekly dermarolling sessions (using a 1.5 mm dermaroller) in addition to minoxidil treatment.
Results showed that patients using a dermaroller achieved greater benefits than those using minoxidil alone. Specifically, 82 % of patients receiving dermarolling felt they achieved greater than a 50 % benefit in their hair compared to just 4.5 % receiving minoxidil alone. Physicians rated the improvements similarly.
Hair counts (at an up close level) were increased in the dermarolling group compared to the minoxidil alone group (91.4 vs 22.2 respectively).
Conclusion: These studies support the potential benefit of dermarolling - especially to increase the efficacy of minoxidil. More studies need to be done to verify or refute these results as well as to determine the optimal parameters for dermarolling. These include comparisons of daily vs weekly vs monthly treatment and comparisons of 0.5 mm needles, 1 mm or 1.5 mm needles. Studies are also needed to determine if any proportion of patient actually worsen with dermarolling.
A randomized evaluator blinded study of effect of microneedling in androgenetic alopecia: a pilot study.
Dhurat R, et al. Int J Trichology. 2013.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299