Category Archives: Microneedling

At-Home Microneedling for Hair Loss

Microneedling (also known as collagen induction therapy) entails wounding and skin disruption to induce hair regeneration. In my prior posts on Follica, people often made informative comments about at-home microneedling and dermarolling for hair growth.

Update: January 21, 2021

— In February 2021, a study from Korea found that a newly developed home-use microneedle device enhanced the penetration of 5% Minoxidil. Patient self-assessment scores showed the highest satisfaction in the Minoxidil + Microneedling combination treated group. However, the excess hair count in this cohort after 6 months treatment (twice per week) was not statistically significant.

— In December 2020, an interesting letter summarized a pilot study on using Follica’s proprietary microwounding device to treat female pattern hair loss (FPHL). The results were very positive, and I covered them in detail here.

— A September 2020 study from Iran concluded that microneedling at a depth of 0.6 mm was more effective than at a  depth of 1.2 mm. This is quite surprising, since most doctors and hair loss sufferers tend to recommend the higher number. For example, in the below video from 2020, the doctors suggest derma-rolling or micro-needling at a depth of 1-1.5 mm.

— A June 2020 study from China found Microneedling and Minoxidil combination treatment to be superior to either one by itself. The underlying mechanism involves activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway.

December 25, 2019

My original post on using dermarolling in combination with Minoxidil was published all the way back in 2013. More evidence on the benefits of microneedling for hair loss reversal came in 2017, courtesy of Dr. Rachita Dhurat.

At-Home Microneedling for Hair Growth

Intentional scalp injury and wounding has been known to induce follicular neogensis via stimulating the dermis’ natural wound healing process. Over the years, there has been a lot of online discussion about DIY at-home microneedling and dermarolling to treat androgenetic alopecia.

I was planning to write a post on this subject in the past, but kept delaying it till today. For one, there are numerous hair loss forum and Reddit threads on this subject running into 100s of pages. Moreover, when it comes to microneedling for facial skin rejuvenation related applications, there is even more information available online. Including numerous reviews and before and after photos.

According to a summary of  papers on microneedling, the procedure can help numerous dermatological conditions. These include skin rejuvenation (via increases in collagen and elastin); reduction of acne scarring, wrinkles, fine lines, stretch marks and surgical scars; improvement in undesired skin color changes such as melasma; and enlarged pore reduction. Note that in 2016, a Japanese research team found age-related hair loss to be caused by reduced collagen.

An increasingly common use entails using microneedling or skin puncturing for better transdermal drug delivery. In the hair loss world, many doctors and surgeons are using microneedling in tandem with application of hair growth serums, Minoxidil, PRP and Exosomes.

Needle Depth, Dermarollers and Dermapens

Among the key questions when trying out at-home microneedling on the head:

  1.  What is the appropriate depth of needles for microneedling on the scalp for hair growth? For thinner facial skin uses, fine needles of 0.25 mm and 0.5 mm depth seem to be preferred. For thicker scalp skin, many people recommend 1.5 mm to puncture the skin and epidermis sufficiently. Reader “PinotQ” mentioned a possible treatment regimen of 1.5 mm once a week, and 0.5 mm daily for maintenance. A September 2020 study from Iran found a depth of 0.6 mm to be more effective than a depth of 1.5 mm.
  2. What device is the best? There are hundreds of dermarollers and dermapens on sale online. A large number of those seem to have great reviews. It seems like most people prefer dermarollers to dermapens when it comes to the scalp, although the lower price of the former could be a factor. While the dermaroller needles enter the skin at an angle, dermapen needles enter vertically. Each device and delivery method has advantages and disadvantages.
  3. Safety precautions, including: making sure that the needles are sterilized and clean to prevent infection; not using too much force when rolling the device to avoid damaging the dermis; aftercare and cleaning up correctly in case of bleeding or other skin injury.
  4. How often to use the dermaroller or other micro needling device? Can one get away with just once a week treatment? Note that some people may easily bleed or have overly sensitive scalps, making microneedling impractical or even dangerous. For those with seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis of the scalp, it is best to consult a dermatologist before starting treatment.
Microneedling Dermaroller Device
A Dermaroller for Microneedling.

Note: Dermarollers are very cheap on Amazon. However, sizes range from needle depths of 0.25 mm to 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm. The rolling drum size can also vary significantly. You will need to read the comments to this post before deciding on the best product (s) for scalp hair growth purposes.

Dermapen Microneedling Pen for Hair Growth
Dr. Pen Dermapen.

Many people also use handheld motor powered dermapens (more expensive) for microneedling. These are also known as micropens. An alternative product that some people praise is called the dermastamp (or derma stamp).

For more information, see this article on dermaroller versus dermapen. These two devices are also sometimes termed as microneedling roller v/s microneedling pen.

User Reviews on Microneedling at Home

Ultimately, the point of this post is to benefit from crowdsourced reader comments about this subject matter all in one place. I might even start microneedling myself in 2020 if I get more motivated after reading about people’s experiences.

Follica’s recent statement seems to indicate that many kinds of wounding and skin injury can regenerate hair. Follica’s tried and tested in-office version and device will likely be the most effective. But for the time being, at-home use will have to suffice.

Scalp Wounding for Hair Growth in Females

A new pilot study on wounding and hair growth just got released online yesterday. The authors found that wounding via Follica’s microneedling device causes new hair growth in women. This is worth reporting because prior research from Follica only entailed studying hair growth in men.

Wounding, Microneedling, Follica and Female Hair Growth
Before and after hair growth photo for wounding via Follica microneedling device in females. Source: International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. Publisher: Elsevier.

In fact, almost all past research on microneedling and hair growth has focused on male pattern hair loss. Balding men are often satisfied with new hair that grows just 1 inch high. Women, on the other hand, often need superior results in order to make for a natural appearance. I did not think that this would be possible via just wounding and intentional scalp injury.

Men are also more likely to  be ok with a shaved or thin appearance on the sides and rear of their heads. And of course many men can get away with just shaving their head entirely.

Scalp Wounding Causes Hair Growth in Women

This latest study was undertaken using Follica’s technology. See the company’s press release from today. The lead researchers were based at Harvard University and at Massachusetts General Hospital. The team was led by Dr. Maryanne Senna.

The study showed that wounding leads to at least some hair growth in all women. See discussion further below. All of the 11 females in the study suffered from mild to moderate female pattern hair loss (FPHL).

The main limitation of the study is obviously the small sample size. All 11 patients underwent six treatments with Follica’s Hair Follicle Neogenesis (HFN) device. Each treatment lasts for just a few minutes. The scalp skin wounding creates an “embryonic window” that allows new hair follicles to form from epithelial stem cells.

Two of the patients were also using Spironolactone for their hair loss during the trial.

Minoxidil Addition

The study summary initially states that on non-treatment days, participants applied a topical “on-market” drug.  However, later on in the study, it states the following:

“Subjects applied topical minoxidil 5% foam nightly to these areas for the duration of the trial. Topical minoxidil foam was not applied on treatment days.”

So I guess it is Minoxidil and nothing else in Follica’s topical? A lot of online discussion in the past centered around the addition of valproic acid, but this now seems unlikely.

100 Percent Success

  • 10 out of 11 patients reported perceived improvement in hair growth at the end of study.
  • All 11 patients demonstrated improvement in physician-graded Sinclair scores after 4 months. The average improvement in Sinclair grade was slightly more than 1 full integer reduction.

The Sinclair Scale for female pattern hair loss was developed by Dr. Rodney Sinclair of Australia. A more commonly used measure in women is the Ludwig Scale. For men, the most common way to classify degree of baldness is the Hamilton-Norwood Scale.

Also see Follica’s announcement of these findings on Twitter.

According to CEO Jason Bhardwaj, their product has the potential to address both male and female androgenetic alopecia. And this study makes clear that the device works well with both longer and shorter hair.

Follica plans to advance its lead program for male pattern hair loss into Phase 3 trials in 2021.