Acne – microneedling or microdermabrasion. Which one?

Hey Rosie –  thank you for writing!  Everyone’s questions help other people too!  Here’s my opinion on the above.

Microneedling is NOT so great with active acne.

Why?  For two reasons because the needling often aggravates the redness and pus (inflammation) with active acne, and it doesn’t prevent scars.  Also, it really doesn’t treat acne scars very well.

  1. With active acne, the microneedling often causes more inflammation because it introduces tiny wounds.  Your skin is already trying to heal the acne, it doesn’t need more to heal. Much better would be to treat the acne itself more vigorously and aggressively.  You may need your primary care doctor or a dermatologist to help you.  For example, an antibiotic gel like Clindamycin may be helpful, or a short course of an oral antibiotic.  There are many other options.
  2. The microneedling doesn’t prevent scars from acne.  The only way to prevent acne scars from inflammatory acne, is to get the acne under really good control.  Some types of acne don’t cause scars because it’s a more mild form.
  3. Microneedling doesn’t treat existing scars very well.  I know……you see all these amazing photos on the web, but often the lighting is different, sometimes the photos are photoshopped, the patient may have had other procedures also, etc.  Studies have shown that it’s not very effective.

Here are some effective OTC skincare products that may help.  Again…..you may need your doctor to help you!

Microdermabrasion (MDA) IS very helpful with acne.

Why?  Because it exfoliates the dead skin cells off that plug your pores.  And because it has a tiny suction device (think tiny painless vacuum cleaner) that deep cleans pores in a way a brush or exfoliant can’t. Also infusions can be done at the same time.  Microdermabrasion can be done with active acne as long as the acne is being treated with topical or oral agents.

  1.  Acne is caused by plugs in the pores.  For example, if the plug is very superficial you get a blackhead or white head and not much redness or swelling.  The deeper the plug, the more the inflammation, pus, and potential for scarring.  When you exfoliate and suction the pores out well, it improves the drainage of that pore and makes your topical medications, cleansers, etc. penetrate better.
  2. The MDA tip feels like a cat’s tongue or mild scrub.  It removes the dead skin very thoroughly.  Dead skin combines with the oil in pores to create the plug.
  3. Keeping the pores cleaned out and using your topical medications, reduces the bacteria counts on skin.  We all have good bacteria too, but you don’t want the acne-causing one proprioni bacteria to overgrow because it creates more inflammation and more potential for scarring.

Keeping your diet healthy by avoiding junk food and inflammatory foods really helps too!

Hope this helps!
Dr. Brandith Irwin
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!

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