If you’re like me, the thought of injecting your face with the same toxin that causes food poisoning (yes, that’s what Botox is!) to paralyze your face is just down right unappealing. I realize this might be an extreme reaction however, that’s just how I see it (I may change my mind in the future but, I just don’t see that happening). I realize that licensed providers utilize it for “glamorous” results like smoothing and improving the appearance of facial wrinkles and underarm sweating but, they also utilize it for other conditions like cervical dystonia (neck and shoulder muscle contractions that are uncontrollable), uncontrolled blinking, chronic migraines and overactive bladder. For those latter conditions, I retract my opinion, however, for all intents and purposes for here, we are only going to look at the cosmetic benefits and the much more AFFORDABLE alternative (MedlinePlus, 2016). 

You may have heard that there is a “very new,” “latest and greatest,” “ we had it first,” type of anti-aging tool from a certain Network Marketing Company (MLM) that suggests you need this on the daily (don’t do that, we will discuss this shortly). Well, I am glad they have the technology however, it isn’t new. I personally have been utilizing this tool for almost 3 years now! WHAT IS IT?! It’s a Derma Roller; AKA a micro-needling tool. Now, Botox injections last anywhere from 3 -6 months depending on the individual. Micro-needling or Derma Rolling needs to be done more frequently however, it doesn’t involve any exogenous chemicals and creates a natural anti-aging response (Ganceviciene, et.al., 2012). 

Micro-needling, Derma Rolling or, AKA Collagen Induction Therapy services can be provided by a Cosmetic or Plastic Surgeon but, you can also do it at home. Let’s first discuss what the Derma Roller tool is. A Derma Roller tool is a handheld plastic device that has a roller type ball on the end that is filled with certain size needles depending on the outcome you are looking for (there are several we will discuss). When applied, the rows of needles will glide over the area you are working on (Youyaner, 2014).

Needles?! Yes, small micro needles so, don’t freak out just yet! The purpose of those needles is to make tiny tares in the top layer of your skin. Your body’s natural response is for the deeper layers of your skin to produce more collagen and elastin. These are the two main ingredients that keep your skin firm and help maintain its shape. As we age, we lose collagen in the process. The less collagen we have, the more fine lines and wrinkles we see (just considering natural biological processes and not environmental influences and factors like diet and prolonged exposure to the sun which also attributes to the way our skin looks)(Varani, et.al., 2006).  


Now, don’t start derma rolling all the time….more is NOT MORE in this instance! 


The entire collagen process and recovery to the skin happens in about 27 days so, it is recommended not to treat or “derma roll” the same area inside 30 days depending on needle gauge. If you do this, you will damage the new collagen fibers and minimize the effects of the process (Youyaner, 2014).

To determine which derma roller you need or the size of the needles you will need is determined by your desired outcome. A dermal roller with needles shorter than .25mm will only cause an exfoliating type of effect and are best coupled with additional tools like retinoids, vitamin C serums, etc. If combating fine lines and wrinkles are your motivation, a derma roller with needles .5mm in length is what you will need. Derma roller with needles 1.0 mm are more effective in collagen production. This size can also treat stretch marks and scars. If you are experienced and knowledgeable, you can utilize 1.5 to 2.0mm size derma roller needles or, seek a professional’s help with a derma roller containing 3.0mm needles. Remember, the larger the needle, the longer your skin will need to recover (QMD, 2014). 

Happy rolling!


Sandi Lanham, B.S.P.H

Naturopathic Physician Student

COO of Kentucky Life Realty

Partner of KASA Properties

***The information provided is by no means meant to cure, diagnose or dissuade you to seek information from your primary care physician or healthcare provider. Always check with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before changing or adding to your normal health routine. Remember, anything related to your health and body is up for discussion; ask questions, make suggestions and ALWAYS have a conversation.  


Want to research some of the science for yourself (which I ALWAYS encourage….knowledge is power as the old adage says)? Here are a few resources/references to check out:


Babraj, D. et.al. (2005). Collagen synthesis in human musculoskeletal tissues and skin. American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism. Retrieved from http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/289/5/E864


Ganceviciene, R. et.al. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. DermatoEndocrinology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583892/


MedLine Plus (2016). Botox: Also called: Botulinum toxin type A. US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/botox.html

Murad, H (2014). Collagen & Elastin: The Skin’s ‘Youth’ Proteins. Dr. Murad: Connected. Retrieved from https://www.murad.com/blog/collagen-elastin-the-skins-youth-proteins/

QMD (2014). What Size Derma Roller Should I Use? QMD. Retrieved from http://dermarollerqmd.com/demarolling-therapy/what-size-derma-roller-should-i-use/

Varani, J et.al. (2006). Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin: Roles of Age-Dependent Alteration in Fibroblast Function and Defective Mechanical Stimulation. The American Journal of Pathology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1606623/

Youyaner (2014). 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions on Derma Rolling DO NOT Attempt Derma Rolling Until You Read This. DermaRollerInfo. Retrieved from http://dermarollerinfo.com/derma-rolling-questions/ 

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