I Put Needles And Lasers In My Face All In The Name Of Beauty
Is micro-needling worth all the pain?
I have a very very low pain threshold, which is surprising considering how accident prone I am.
So when someone suggested the solution to all my glowing skin dreams might be having someone jab a whole bunch of needles in my face repeatedly, I left so quickly there was pretty much a Liz-shaped hole in the wall.
But then, my pretties, I saw some before and after pictures for the treatment known as micro needling and my jaw hit the goddamn floor. Miss Before had scarring, was a bit blotchy, and had an overall sallow look to her skin. Miss After? Well she was glowing, her scars had faded and she was (supposedly) sans makeup. If I could wind up glowing like Miss After Photo (minus the blonde hair and blue eyes, damn you genetics!) then I was sold.
So Liz, why would someone willingly get needles in their face?
Because beauty lovers, skin needling, or micro needling is said to work wonders on your skin. I could bore you with a lot of the science-y mumbo jumbo about penetrating the dermis (which sounds dirty) and cellular regeneration, but I’m gonna give it to you straight. What happens when you injure your skin? It repairs itself. So, what would happen if you created teeny, tiny, microscopic injuries to the area you want treated? In theory? It would repair itself, turn over dead and dull cells and leave you with brand spanking new baby-soft skin, with no evidence of the trauma left behind. Originally this technique was used by dermatologists to lighten scar tissue but has since gone all trendy and is being used in beauty salons by those seeking to fix past damage, wind back the facial clock, reduce pore size, improve dark circles, reduce fine lines… basically all the things.
So knowing all this, I found myself sitting in the impossibly stylish waiting room of Simply Laser in Brisbane, Australia, filling out a form consenting to be punctured hundreds of times in the name of beauty. There three main types of needling devices – the dermal roller, Dermapen and Endymed (which also involves fractional resurfacing aka basically shooting lasers into your face). I’d picked Simply Laser because they use the last two, which after much research I found were the very latest in technology and had a history of providing superior results. We decide on a treatment regimen that involves a few sessions of Dermapen, a couple of peels in between, and a couple of sessions using the Endymed (which is apparently super special as only two salons in my whole city use it, it’s that new).
I am simultaneously excited to be among the first to try a holy grail new treatment and terrified that I am one of first to try this new treatment.
And it’s with that that I find myself signing my life away on the consent form and being led into the treatment room.
First stop: the Dermapen
Immediately upon lying down on the treatment bed I explain to my beauty therapist that I am basically shit scared of needles and usually need to be held down when I get blood taken. I expect her to look at me as if to say “Well, you’ve come to the wrong place, honey!” but she doesn’t. Instead she says “Oh there’s nothing really to worry about, this isn’t like normal needles.”
She shows me the “magic wand” that will be pricking all my skin concerns away; and wand-like it definitely is. The Dermapen looks like a fat pen with a cord coming out of it. She explains that as she moves it across my face the needle will jab in and out at a very shallow depth to cause mild micro-traumas to the skin. She goes to start.
“WAIT!” I say. “No numbing cream? No anaestheticy stuff to magic my pain away?”
Nope. She says most people find they don’t need it. Lady, I think, I am not most people. I am Queen of the Wimps. But she laughs and begins anyway.
And you know what? It’s not that bad. The vibrations from the device kind of offset any real needle like sensation, so what I end up with is a little stinging feeling instead. Then she hits my forehead and holy shit it hurts like a motherf#$ker. She can obviously see me wincing in pain so she tells me how amazing I am doing and as much as I don’t like to admit flattery works, it makes me feel pretty brave (may I have a gold star for my braveness please?).
She explains that the forehead and nose will probably hurt the most because of their proximity to the bone, which is a sobering thought. But because I am such a brave, big girl today we continue.
After a minute she says she’s going to take a little break to wipe some of the blood away and I think I might pass out. But then because journalism, I ask her if she can wait until I’ve taken a photo. If you look really closely you can see my eyes watering a lot… I resemble Kim Kardashian in that photo she circulated with her own face all bloody from a similar treatment (except the part where I actually look nothing like Kim and the only similar thing is blood on my face).
The whole treatment only lasts only about 15-20 minutes which is practically nothing. Then she applies a soothing as all hell face mask to moisturise and cool down the burning sensation that’s crept all over my face.
As she applies a soothing balm that’s tinted to make sure I don’t look like a tomato walking down the street, my therapist explains I might look and feel a bit sunburnt for a couple of days so only to use gentle cleansers, no active ingredients (like retinol, or glycolic acid etc), mineral makeup and lots and lots of sunscreen – seriously slather that shit on. I obey because lord knows I don’t want to have gone through that stinging for nothing.
I treat myself to a belgian chocolate ice-cream for being such a trooper.
That night and the next day I am still pretty damn red and, you guessed it, I feel lightly sunburnt. But you know, beauty is pain or something like that.
Taking it up a notch with the Endymed (aka lasers and needles)
After a few sessions of the Dermapen (monthly) and the Simply Laser signature peels (in the two weeks in between) my skin is definitely looking clearer. It feels smoother, but my melasma (hormonal brown skin patches caused by being a goddamn woman) is still present. In fact because some of my scaring and other inflammation has gone down it actually looks more prominent than it used to. I’m told this is totally normal so I stop flipping out. (Anxiety is so great when trying new beauty treatments!)
This, my therapist explains, is where the hyperpigmentation butt-kicking awesomness of the Endymed comes in. It’s said that one treatment on this sexy device is equal to six Dermapen sessions. This device looks like an even fatter pen with a cord and has a little grid of 25 needles that puncture the skin at the same time as a flash of laser helps with fractional resurfacing.
Excuse me but twenty-five what now? And lasers?
But before anxious little old me has time to panic, my therapist tells me this treatment comes with it’s own numbing cream treatment beforehand. Thank the gods because I was about to freak out.
After 20 minutes I am totally numb and completely sure if I were to try to ingest anything I would drool out the corners of my mouth. I make the mistake of licking my lips to see if I can feel them and my tongue also goes numb because clearly I am an idiot.
I brace myself for a pain worse than the initial Dermapen because, you know, lasers and … nothing. She’s going across my forehead, which was he most painful of the previous treatment and I don’t feel a bloody thing. And speaking of blood, my therapist says this time there will be no blood to wipe away because the laser instantly cauterises the wound.
When she gets to my cheeks and around my eyes (and above my lip, dear god) I can feel it and it does hurt, but still on a scale of one to ten, the worst of it is a seven. It’s not until my beauty therapist tells me to remember to breathe that I realize I hadn’t been. Oops.
As I’m leaving, she tells me the Endymed is likely to have more downtime i.e. people will know I’ve had something done by looking at me. But I work in an office full of women who will want to know all the gory details, literally, so that doesn’t bother me. Not gonna be one of those people who hide away until I am all healed!
She’s right. I have noticeable little grid mark scabs on my forehead and nose. But since I live a clumsy life, a few people (including my own doctor) tell me they just figured I’d fallen and faceplanted the sidewalk. Thanks guys, no really.
So does micro needling and fractional resurfacing actually work?
Look, I could describe it all to you blow by blow but I feel like the photos speak for themselves. In fact, they shout from the goddamn rooftops. I means, just look!
In the end, I had three Dermapen treatments and two Endymed treatments with the rockstar skin specialists at Simply Laser. There are a different number of treatments recommended depending on what you want to treat (fine lines, acne scarring, melasma, uneven skin tone etc) but mostly it’s somewhere in the vicinity of four to six treatments. I am thrilled with my results and even my mother who normally tells me I need to stop picking my skin told me she thought I was glowing lately. Thanks Mom!
Oh and for those who have seen ads for at-home versions of the dermal roller needling, I would take a long second to think about that. The results I got were overseen by a professional, the needles went deeper than the at-home versions, and my therapist ensured a sterile environment. I am totally not down for putting needles in my own face, because damn, I am no pro.
As for me, you’re going to have to prise me away from the mirror because damn girl. I fricking hate needles and I would do this again and again for results like these.
I would also like another gold star for my big-girl braveness, please and thank you.
Comment: What’s the most out-there beauty treatment you’d do for good skin?