Collagen Induction Therapy or Micro-Needling

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Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), also known as micro-needling, is a safe, noninvasive method of treating fine lines, wrinkles, scars and now even hair loss. The modern derma roller uses tiny stainless steel needles mounted on a roller with a handle. The device is rolled methodically over the skin so that it makes small punctures in the epidermis. The needles used are very fine and discomfort is minimal. A local topical anesthetic or ice can be used to minimize discomfort, but most patients do not find this necessary.

The skin has three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the innermost fat layer. Two important proteins of the skin are collagen and elastin. Collagen makes up almost 80% of the skin’s dry weight, while elastin makes up 4%.

dermis layersThe dermis contains the skin’s collagen layer. Everyday damage caused by sun and pollution can break down collagen and elastin. The American Academy of Dermatology attributes 90–95 percent of skin aging to sun exposure as it drastically affects the collagen fibers in the dermis.

Wrinkles form when collagen fibers and elastin in the deeper layers of the skin can no longer stretch and contract. With age, the dermis also loses collagen and elastin and the skin gets thinner. When this happens the dermis cannot supply enough moisture to the epidermis. As well, the fat in the subcutaneous layer that gives skin its radiance begins to disappear. This is where Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT) and a derma roller come into play. The process of puncturing the skin stimulates a healing response and the body responds by producing natural collagen.

Needling with a derma roller has many advantages over other skin therapies and rejuvenation processes. The most evident is that it does not remove the outer layer of the epidermis, as is that case with most laser therapies and chemical peels. The body’s protective layer remains intact which reduces the possibility of infection or side effects. A lack of collagen is not only responsible for wrinkles and fine lines, it also the cause of many scars.

acne scars before and after derma roller

skin roller before and after photos


When a blood vessel is pricked, platelet cells release growth factors for the skin to heal. In this case, needling the skin causes a surge of transforming growth factor beta-3 (TGFB3). If you cut yourself, TGFB3 normally lasts about 24 hours. However, when skin is needled TGFB3 may last for two weeks. It has been found that the TGFB3 molecule significantly reduces dermal scarring.1

Another study out of India found that of 36 patients treated with CIT, 34 achieved a reduction in the severity of their scarring by one or two grades. More than 80% of patients assessed their treatment as ‘excellent’ on a 10-point scale. No significant adverse effects were noted in any patient.2

A study conducted in Germany also found that micro-needling increased the formation of new tissue.3 This remodeling of skin has three stages:

  1. Inflammation – skin is red and inflamed after treatment
  2. Inflammatory response – stimulation of growth of healthy tissue
  3. Tissue formation – skin is remodeled for up to 1 year.

scarring results with derma roller

While there are many types of micro-needling systems, studies found that using a roller to create channels was safe, cost effective, and simple. A preset needle depth and FDA testing and approval make them an evident choice.

Micro-needling surpassed IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) lasers in clinical studies as well. Korean dermatologists compared IPL laser treatment to micro-needling. Patients underwent three treatments at two week intervals. Patients undergoing micro-needling showed more skin thickness and more collagen fiber, than IPL laser patients.4

The growth factors released through Collagen Induction Therapy resulted in regenerative healing and healthy type III collagen formed from the base upwards. Growth factors released when the epidermis after IPL laser treatments, produced collagen from the top down, producing type I scar collagen. Micro-needling surpassed IPL laser treatments in skin thickness, collagen quantitative analysis and microscopic evaluation of a MT stain.