Everything You Need to Know About Radiofrequency Microneedling for Acne Scars

The most frustrating thing about acne is that even when it’s gone, it’s never really gone. I can have months-long streaks without a single zit, but when I look in the mirror, I see reminders of past breakouts: brown speckles on my cheeks, tiny divots along my cheekbones, flat but visible spots on my chin.

There is no “instant” solution here: Treating acne scars requires a long-term, multipronged approach and a whole lot of patience. After exhausting all the topical “fading” products along with wearing SPF daily, I felt ready to elevate my plan of attack—safely. (My derm took every precautionary measure, scheduling no overlapping patients, and I wore a KN95 mask to the office.) Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, founder of Entière Dermatology in New York, recommended Lutronic Genius, which is a radiofrequency microneedling machine, and LaseMD Ultra, a resurfacing laser. The goal? Even-toned, smooth skin—no makeup required.

Radiofrequency microneedling helps tone down scars by promoting fresh collagen.

Start to finish, the procedures took one hour, but most of it was sitting with numbing cream on (your provider will customize your pain management for you). The Genius has a stamp-like applicator with 48 tiny needles to puncture skin in two passes, and Dr. Levin methodically worked over every inch of my face in sixths. My pain tolerance is pretty low (like, bikini waxes are an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 for me), but I powered through the 20 minutes of ouch because this temporary trauma to the skin works magic: “Acne scars are basically abnormal clumps of collagen,” Dr. Levin says.“Procedures like this help break up those abnormal clumps of collagen and lay down fresh, healthy collagen and elastin.”

My derm combined the radiofrequency microneedling with a laser treatment for double the benefits.

Immediately after the microneedling Dr. Levin followed up with LaseMD. It shoots a laser column into skin that feels like warm sparks—not painful at all compared to microneedling. “We combine the two because they’ve been studied in combination, one, to help with the healing process, and two, to help enhance results,” Dr. Levin said. While the microneedling addresses texture, wrinkles, and volume loss, the five minutes of laser love targets pigmentation in the upper layer of skin and promotes collagen remodeling to make pores look tighter.

Healing post microneedling takes about a week.

Right after the treatment, my skin was red—as if I had gotten a moderate sunburn. Over the next several days, I noticed marks on my cheeks from the laser, a few tiny red scabs, and a sand-paper-like texture all over. One week later, however, my face had healed and I started to notice some major pros—bouncier, plumper-feeling skin in particular. (True story: My fiancé paused when he kissed my cheek to say it felt “firmer”!).

You’ll start to notice results in one month.

I saw even more improvement over time: Blackheads on my nose became barely visible, a fine line forming on my forehead totally faded, and the acne scars I was most self-conscious about were less obvious—almost as if I had applied a veil of tinted moisturizer over them. Now, three months after my first treatment (and one month after my second round), I’m noticing that I am breaking out much less and skin has much less shine to it – that’s because the procedure makes oil glands smaller, Dr. Levin told me. Another plus!

Expect real fading of acne scarring with multiple treatments.

Even though one radiofrequency microneedling treatment brought impressive before-and-afters for me, Dr. Levin recommends a series to “really stimulate collagen in a meaningful way.”That’s why I went back for a second treatment, and am planning on a third (all four to six weeks apart) for really finite fading of my scars. “After we’ve gone through the corrective phase, you can do it yearly.” Dr. Levin suggested to me. She noted that, as we age, our bodies break down collagen and treatments like laser and radiofrequency microneedling help stimulate its synthesis.


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