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Battle of the needles: microneedling vs. fractional RF needling

subcision + microneedling + fractional RF needling + LED light

Microneedling has been around for ages. It started with the dermaroller and evolved into the automated derma pen. The principle of these devices was to create minute channels on the skin for product infusion and collagen induction.

Recently, the fractional radio frequency needling phenomenon has been making waves in the industry. Its basic principle is quite similar to the manual microneedling device, but with a bonus! The tip of the insulated needles radiate heat which stimulates collagen production even further!!!

I have been using my automated derma pen for years! I combine it with different serums, my favourites are vitamin C and PRP, to boost the effect. I use a variety of depths depending on the facial area and the indication. It is quite a bloody procedure, hence the popular treatment name “vampire facial.”

While I love the how microneedling improves acne scars, I must say that fractional RF needling is microneedling on steroids!!! One fractional RF needling treatment is “like doing three manual microneedling sessions,” according to my patient. Also, the procedure is less bloody than using the manual microneedling device. I can infuse peptides or PRP and add LED light therapy during one treatment session.

The only downside that I find with the fractional RF needling is that patients have a risk of developing scabs and hyperpigmentation post-treatment. NOT ALL patients develop this, but it is a risk especially for darker skinned individuals.

fractional RF needling
fractional RF needling

Scabs develop within 3 to 5 days after the treatment, and fall off within 7 to 10 days.


fractional RF needling
fractional RF needling

Here, you can see that there are hyperpigmented grid marks 3 weeks post treatment. Individuals with darker skin color, those who develop long standing dark marks after acne and those who are exposed to a lot of heat and sun light are more prone to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Do not worry though, because PIH will resolve with the help of lightening agents and sun protection.

As you can see from the first 2 photos, adding fractional RF needling to the acne scar revision plan, improves acne scars faster than just using conventional manual microneedling device.

In my practice, I do a combination of treatments to improve acne scars. If you do see me, do not be surprised as I almost always begin treatment with subcision and/or PRP filler/buffer. I find that when you first treat the acne scars under the skin; there will be better result when you eventually do chemical peel, energy-based devices and/or lasers.

Acne scar revision is not a one-time treatment. Your board-certified dermatologist will make a custom treatment plan for you… and this plan will involve a variety of treatments, several sittings and a lot of patience. You’ll get there 🙂


2 thoughts on “Battle of the needles: microneedling vs. fractional RF needling

  1. How long before the gridmarks disappeared? I just had Infini RF & with the gridmarks all over my face, I am regretting it now!

    1. It may take 1 week to 3 months to improve. Improvement depends on your skin type and your sun exposure. Best to go back to your doctor for proper post-care treatment. 🙂

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