Can a Derma Roller Help Acne Scars?

Acne is a common skin problem that can affect both teenagers and adults. Having to deal with acne itself is bad enough, but acne can also leave behind permanent scars.

Acne scarring can really have a negative impact on your self-esteem and quality of life. It can destroy your confidence and cause you to miss out on experiences you would normally enjoy because you feel so self-conscious. You may feel anxious and/or depressed about the way your skin looks.

Thankfully, the derma roller can help acne scars. We’ll explain how in just a moment. First let’s learn a bit more about acne scarring…

What actually is a scar?

A scar is abnormal skin tissue that forms after a wound is healed, to stop infection and foreign particles from entering the body. Scar tissue is not formed from new skin cells, it is made up of a collection of collagen fibres and other proteins.

So although a scar is the skin’s natural way of healing itself, scar tissue does not look like normal skin.

What causes acne scars?

Usually, acne scars are caused by either an overproduction of tissue (too much collagen) or a loss of tissue (too little collagen) that occurs as a result of inflammation in a cyst or nodule. Acne scars can also be caused or made worse by picking or squeezing spots. The acne scar appears as a growth of scar tissue on the skin, or (more commonly with acne) as an indentation.

Types of acne scars

There are two main categories of acne scars – depressed scars and raised scars.

Depressed scars are caused by a loss of collagen and are the most common type of scar resulting from acne.

There are three main types of depressed acne scars:

Ice pick scars – these are deep and narrow scars that look like large, empty pores.

Boxcar scars – these are broad depressions in the skin with steep, defined edges.

Rolling scars – broad depressions with rounded, sloping edges. These scars pull at the tissue beneath the skin, giving a ‘rolling’ appearance.

Depressed scars tend to sit on top of an area of scar tissue. The scar tissue attaches the bottom of the scar to the tissue underneath, preventing the re-growth of healthy skin.

Hypertrophic (raised) scars are less common in acne sufferers than depressed scars. They are caused by excess scar tissue, resulting in raised areas of skin.

Can the derma roller remove acne scarring?

Derma Roller therapy is clinically proven to be effective in reducing acne scars; in clinical studies 86% of patients with grade 1-3 scars had marked improvements after undergoing treatment.

Most types of acne scar can be significantly improved with a course of derma roller treatments performed at home.

Small, shallow scars can usually be removed entirely. Deeper scars may not completely disappear, but it is possible to smooth them out and make them much less noticeable. An overall improvement of 70-85% is not unrealistic given time.

A derma stamp can also be used to significantly reduce acne scars. 

How does the derma roller compare with other acne scar removal therapies?

The derma roller can produce comparable results to more traditional scar removal therapies, such as deep skin peels, lasers and fractional lasers. However, unlike these treatments, the derma roller is non-ablative (it does not destroy the top layer of skin to cause a wound-healing response). Instead, the derma roller makes use of the body’s own natural healing process, without damaging the skin. As a result, downtime is minimal and there are no known side effects.

Most scar removal treatments cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds when carried out in a skin or medical clinic. But you can easily and safely use a derma roller at home to get equivalent (or better) results, at the fraction of the cost.

How does the derma roller repair acne scarring?

The derma roller (or derma stamp) works by causing a ‘mini-trauma’ to the skin, activating the skin’s healing process. New collagen and elastin is produced, creating brand new skin cells that will fill out any pitted scars or indentations. At the same time, scar tissue is ‘tricked’ into dividing and is gradually broken down.

After a few treatments, scar tissue starts to contract and hyperpigmentation begins to fade. The derma roller also thickens the skin, which simultaneously makes scars less visible. With time and continued treatments, most scar tissue is removed and replaced with smooth, healthy skin. 
Using a derma roller also creates channels through which products can penetrate to deeper skin layers and therefore work much more effectively than they would normally. Combining derma roller treatment with the right products can dramatically speed up the repair process.

Vitamin C serum is the secret weapon in scar removal. Our bodies need Vitamin C to produce collagen and using vitamin C serum in conjunction with a derma roller/derma stamp combines collagen production with new skin cell generation. Vitamin C also fights hyperpigmentation by preventing melanin production. This is beneficial when treating acne scars, as it helps to fade the marks left behind by acne and/or acne scars.

Typical results

Acne scarring before and after derma roller therapy

Acne scarring before and after derma roller therapy

How long before I see results?

Repairing the skin with a derma roller is a relatively gentle way of treating acne scars, and as such, although it can be very effective, results can take a bit longer than more drastic treatments. Most people notice some improvement after a couple of months, with significant scar reduction being seen in six months to a year.

Because increased collagen production continues for a long time after a derma roller treatment, skin improvement continues for up to 12 months after the last treatment.

Which derma roller is best?

Any of our derma rollers can be used to successfully reduce acne scarring. Which one you choose will depend on your budget and your own preference.

Beware of purchasing derma rollers from eBay or Amazon, as although some of them are perfectly fine, there are lots of cheap, badly made derma rollers on there that are not sterilised and may damage your skin. 

Which needle length should I use?

Generally, the deeper the scars, the longer needle length needed.

1.0mm needles may be effective for shallow scars.

1.5mm needles can successfully treat most acne scars.

2.0mm needles are usually needed only for very deep scars.

If in doubt, we recommend starting with a 1.5mm derma roller or derma stamp.