Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (2024)

Key takeaways:

  • Colleen Oakley was curious about antiaging dermatology procedures like Botox and microneedling.

  • She decided to try microneedling. It’s a procedure that uses tiny needles to puncture the top layer of skin and help stimulate the skin’s healing process, producing more collagen and elastin.

  • She learned that for her, aging gracefully does not have to mean aging expensively.

Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (1)

My Journey is a series of personal essays about what it’s like to cope with a medical condition.

I don’t consider myself a vain person. But if you added up the number of hours I’ve spent thinking about my appearance — particularly my face — since I started noticing the crow’s feet, forehead wrinkles, and “11s” (the two deep perpendicular lines between my eyebrows) in my mid-30s, it would be an embarrassing amount.

In a culture obsessed with youth and beauty, I know I’m not alone. In fact, a recent survey found that American women think about their appearance for about 6½ hours every week. That’s nearly an hour a day. I could have learned a new language. Or trained for a triathlon. Or taken so many naps.

From jars of hundred dollar creams to needles to peels, was there anything out there that could help me spend less time inspecting my face?

Botox or not? Exploring antiaging options

At 43, my daily thoughts as I peer into the mirror sound a lot like: “Is it just me or are these wrinkles getting wrinklier? Should I get Botox? It’s expensive. And who am I trying to fool? Aging is a privilege. I should be proud of my face! But Maureen got Botox, and she sure does look good. I wish Maureen hadn’t gotten Botox because now I look really old standing next to her. Maybe I’ll just get a little bit. See if I like it. No! It’s poison! And I want to model self-love for my daughters. Aging naturally. Accepting myself.”

Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (2)

Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (3)

Naturally, I asked my dermatologist about Botox. “You definitely could use it,” the 28-year-old doctor with her gorgeous wrinkle-free skin informed me, while scrutinizing my face. I bristled. Mostly because she said I needed 34 units. And the price she quoted made my forehead wrinkles deepen considerably — to the point that I probably needed 35 units.

“What else could I try?” I asked, and that’s when she mentioned microneedling.

Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (4)

  • What are the side effects of microneedling? You may look sunburnt for a few days and have swelling, burning, itching, and bruising.

  • Does insurance cover dermatology procedures? It usually does not cover cosmetic procedures such as chemical peels, facials, laser therapy, or microdermabrasion.

  • How much does Botox cost? Your costs can run anywhere from $300 to $1,400.

My clinic’s microneedling special: $800 for four sessions

Microneedling is a procedure that uses tiny needles to puncture the top layer of skin. These micro-injuries help stimulate the skin’s healing process, producing more collagen and elastin — which can help even skin texture and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The procedure appealed to me because I have some uneven skin texture and acne scarring that microneedling can address better than Botox.

My skin clinic offered a special on microneedling — four sessions for $800. That was steep. But it wasn’t something I’d have to repeat multiple times every year, like Botox. That made the price tag easier to swallow. It also felt like a less invasive, more natural alternative to Botox.

And what did I have to lose? I mean, besides $800?

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Microneedling feels more like vibrations than needles

My first session, I lay down on my back on a bed, much like the ones used in spas for massage therapy. There was even a blanket to cover my legs in case I was cold. Once I was comfortable, the esthetician rubbed a thick numbing gel all over my face and jawline. She turned off the lights, put on music, and I laid there for 30 to 40 minutes while the gel took effect.

When she came back, she rubbed the gel off. My face was quite numb. She then explained the procedure to me. She would use an electric microneedling pen and slowly move it in sections over every square inch of my face, checking in to make sure I was comfortable. I might have some redness and bruising over the next 4 to 5 days as my skin healed and could expect to see full results in 2 to 3 weeks.

The needle pen made a light buzzing sound, similar to an electric toothbrush. I could feel the vibration of it on my skin more than the actual needles. I never felt pain (at most, it was a 2 on a scale of 10). But I was aware of the bonier parts of myself more than the fattier parts, like right under my eyes and my hairline. The esthetician warned me this might be the case..

The entire process took about 20 minutes. Then, she wiped up the blood (some skin types bleed more than others, and I was a bleeder), instructed me to avoid sun exposure, and told me to only rinse my face with water for the first 48 hours after the procedure. She gave me samples of a gentle face wash and lotion to use until my face had mostly healed — 5 to 7 days — and said I could then resume my normal skincare routine.

My question was: When does it end?

When I got home, my face was bright red, like I had a severe sunburn. On day 2, the bruising beneath my eyes showed up. And it’s a good thing I worked from home, because I couldn’t put any makeup on to cover it up. By day 3, my skin felt really tight, and the bruising and redness had dissipated a bit. But it took a full 6 days until my skin was completely healed.

Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (9)

I repeated this process three more times every 6 weeks until my four sessions were up.

After the sessions were over, I would like to be able to say that my skin was so smooth and wrinkle free, and that I looked like a teenager and never thought about wrinkles again. But the truth is, I didn’t notice a big difference in my wrinkles.

However, I do think it improved my acne scarring a bit. And I even got a few compliments on my new “glow.” But unfortunately, the effects didn’t last forever. And at my next yearly dermatologist appointment, she recommended I do a chemical peel, followed a few months later by one more session of microneedling — and then Botox.

“I don’t think I want to do any of that,” I said. It just felt like so much time, energy, and money for a minimal difference.

“Why?” she asked.

“Well, I just wonder, when does it end?”

She paused and considered. “When you don’t care anymore, I guess.”

I thought about my grandmother, who at the age of 90 still never left home without lipstick. And I thought about my mother, who at 73 sometimes laments the lines in her face. And I realized that I was likely always going to care.

Wrinkles are as inevitable as well, aging. I don’t begrudge women who do these procedures (like Maureen! She really does look great.) But I simply don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for procedures and put in more hours each year on top of the 6 hours each week I already think about my face.

I have better things to do.

Like take a nap.

Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (10)Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (11)

What is the downside of microneedling?

Downsides of microneedling include side effects such as swelling and bruising.

How long will microneedling results last?

Microneedling results typically last several months. But it varies depending on your skin type, age, and the number of treatments you receive.

The bottom line

Microneedling can offer benefits such as improved skin texture, increased collagen production, and reduced scarring. But it comes at a cost, and results don't last forever.

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Is Microneedling Really Worth It? Here’s My Verdict - GoodRx (2024)
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