Scalp Microneedling

Scalp Microneedling

Get essential information about scalp microneedling for hair loss.

The Science

What Is Scalp Microneedling?

Scalp microneedling is a drug free hair loss treatment. It involves using tiny medical grade needles to create small puncture wounds in the scalp.

Usually people use a ‘roller’ embedded with needles and roll it across the scalp area. A ‘stamp’ device can also be used to make puncture wounds in bald patches on the head.

An advantage of microneedling is that it’s very low maintenance. Microneedling once per month has been shown to generate hair growth.

How Does Scalp Microneedling Work?

The tiny wounds that microneedling produces causes growth factors to rush to the wounded area. Stem cells are also activated in order to repair the tissue damage.

This seems to encourage human hair to grow again.

It doesn’t appear that follicles have to be directly damaged to generate hair growth. A variety of needle lengths have produced favourable results including 0.5mm needles. This length of needle is too short to reach the hair follicle directly.

Scalp Microneedling Results

Only a small amount of studies have focused on microneedling for hair loss but the results tend to be positive.

  • Microneedling improved hair parameters at needle depths of 0.50–2.50 mm, when performed at frequencies ranging from once weekly to once monthly.(1)
  • Hair appearance was enhanced when microneedling was used on people whose hair count changes had plateaued for over 6 months on other treatments.(2)
  • In one study, using microneedling on its own produced more hair growth than 5% minoxidil.(5)
  • When minoxidil and weekly microneedling were combined, 4 out of 5 of men estimated that their hair had improved by more than 50%. This was much more than by using minoxidil or microneedling alone.(2)
  • A study of 30 men had microneedling performed once per month for 4 months. After 4 treatments hair density and hair thickness were improved.(3)

Regarding the length of needles to use, bigger isn’t always better. 0.6mm needles generated more impressive results than 1.2mm needles in one study.(4)

Weight Of Science

Scalp microneedling is a much newer treatment that mainstays such as minoxidil or finasteride. The majority of studies have taken place since 2013.

Microneedling has not been formally approved as a hair loss treatment by any regulatory body.

Side Effects

Pretty much all the side effects associated with microneedling are related to the skin damage caused by the devices.

Headache

Headaches and scalp pain have commonly been reported. The level of pain is associated with the length of needles used. Longer needles tend to equate to more pain.

Bruising

Bruising and swelling are another normal effect of skin injury. This usually subsides quickly in the days after performing the treatment.

Itching

As the scalp heals, some itching and irritation is likely to occur. Moisturizing to help the healing process can help .

Infection

By damaging the skin barrier and exposing blood, the likelihood of an infection developing increases. Excellent needle hygiene and only using medical grade steel should be priorities to try and avoid complications.

What Does It Cost?

It’s one of the most inexpensive hair loss treatments available. With good cleaning routines the microneedle devices can be used repeatedly.

Be sure to only buy medical grade steel rollers from a reputable manufacturer to avoid infections.

Prices tend to range from £10 to £20 on Amazon.

As always, be guided by reviews. It’s definitely better to choose the best quality roller that you can afford. After all, you are going to be piercing your skin with this product!

Are There Alternatives To Scalp Microneedling?

If you are looking for another non-chemical hair loss treatment, then scalp massage or low level laser therapy could be good substitutes. Both have some evidence supporting their use.

However, scalp massage is quite a time consuming process, so LLLT is probably the better direct ‘swap’. It’s a lower maintenance option.

Topical chemical hair loss treatments include minoxidil and ketoconazole. Each has a number of scientific studies that justify their use for male pattern hair loss.

Our full list of science based hair loss treatments can be found here.

References

(1) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13555-021-00653-2 

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746236/ 

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7759059 

(4) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jocd.13714 

(5) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jocd.14525