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Microneedling for Hair Loss: Does a Derma Roller Work?

Microneedling for Hair Loss

What is Microneedling with a Derma Roller?

Microneedling is the practice of introducing many small pin pricks in the scalp using a derma roller type device. The derma roller consists of a small barrel with many small needles attached to a handle. The handle is used to roll the barrel with needles across the scalp. Using microneedles can cause a small amount of bleeding. Researchers have found that microneedling stimulates growth factors in the skin that support the growth of hair.1

Does Using Derma Rollers Microneedling Stimulate Hair Growth?

A study done on mice1 found that using a derma roller on the shaved area of mice increased hair growth compared to controls. The length of the needles used on the skin made a difference in growth. These researchers found that needle lengths of 0.25mm-0.5mm worked best on mice. The mice that had the best results had derma rollers applied 10 times per day, 5 times per week for 3 weeks. Researchers used  rollers on the mice but did not cause bleeding.

Animal studies sometimes do not translate to results in humans but in this case it may. One study in Indian men found that microneedling with a 1.5mm derma roller increased hair growth.2 One major difference between this study and the study in mice was that these researchers used the roller at a needle depth and pressure that caused bleeding.

Although the previous study found positive results in humans, it is important to see if those results were replicated in other studies. A recent review study that analyzed a number of other studies found that benefits to hair growth were observable after microneedling with either a derma roller, pin-type device, or Platelet-Rich Plasma injections.3 These results are promising and microneedling should not be entirely disregarded for treatment of hair loss. More studies are needed.

How to Use Derma Rollers Microneedling for Hair Loss

Should you choose to use a derma roller for your hair loss, we recommend getting it professionally done as an experienced healthcare provider will ensure that the risk of infection and harm is minimal.

Based on the published studies we would recommend the following steps should you decide to perform microneedling yourself:

  1. Sanitize the area to be treated with 70% rubbing alcohol
  2. Sanitize the microneedling instrument with 70% rubbing alcohol. Sanitizing both the area to be treated and the instrument before any rolling treatments will minimize the risk of infection.
  3. Start off with a lower needle length such as 0.5mm. Be sure to not penetrate the skin and cause bleeding.
  4. Apply enough pressure until the area is red and inflamed. Perform this 10 times per day, 5 times per week for 3 weeks.
  5. According to the above study in mice, there should not be any bleeding. However, researchers in the human trial argue that bleeding should be induced for microneedling to be effective.3 We suggest taking the conservative approach and using a derma roller until there is redness in the treated area. Avoid puncturing the skin.


How Does Microneedling with a Derma Roller Work?

Researchers in the mouse study collected blood samples from treated mice and found that the derma roller application increased expression of cellular growth signaling compounds such as Wnt3a, β-catenin, VEGF, and Wnt10b.

In addition to increasing the expression of certain growth factors, microneedling may work to increase the bioavailability of certain topical treatments. This makes sense as the inflammation and trauma to the scalp after microneedling will make it more porous to active ingredients of topical treatments like minoxidil and DHT blockers.

In conclusion, microneedling could help to increase hair loss in men and women suffering from androgenetic alopecia. Since derma roller devices are relatively inexpensive and the risks are low if no bleeding is caused, it may be worth adding microneedling with a derma roller to your skincare routine.