The dangers and complications of microneedling

I am 43 and had one session of microneedling a year ago. My face became inflamed and I have been battling severe facial burning ever since. My previously smooth skin is now scarred all over with lines, huge pores and a strange texture. I have been to a few dermatologists who have no idea what to do. I am desperate for some good advice.

My heart goes out to you and thank you for sharing this.  It will help others contemplating this procedure. First, let’s talk about the different types of problems that can arise after microneedling.

Please remember that it’s often NOT the microneedling itself that caused the problem. It’s the solution, lotion or cream that they put on the skin before or after the microneedling, so do your best to find out what exactly was in that solution/gel/lotion, etc.

Here’s what I’m thinking and here are some ideas:

Possible Complications After Microneedling

Here are the Big 4!

  1. Infection. Infections do not always look the way you think. Some infections are more obvious with swelling, pus and redness. Others are more subtle (indolent) where the skin just stays irritated and doesn’t heal. In these cases, the body’s immune system is holding the offending bacteria, fungus, or virus in partial check, but isn’t strong enough to eliminate it.
  2. Allergic or irritant reactions. Ranging from barely visible or extreme (as in you just want to hide).
  3. Pain and itching. Are not normal for skin if they last more than a few days! These are a symptom that something is wrong. They can indicate both 1 and 2 above.
  4. Scars and texture changes. Again, thank you for sharing your story. These are not uncommon. Please search “scars” on this site for more info.

Approaches to Getting Help and Treatment for Problems/Complications after Microneedling

Unfortunately, many of these procedures are done by salons and spas who don’t have any true medical training and often don’t know what to do.

Options to consider:

  • Find a primary care doctor or dermatologist (better for this problem) who has expertise and experience in cosmetic procedures and complications
  • Get several opinions from experienced aestheticians in your area, but don’t let them sell you anything, until you’ve gathered all your information.
  • Home treatments won’t usually work unless the injury is very superficial, but do optimize with good basic skin care.
  • An experienced naturopath may be able to help. Again, no expensive supplements needed until you’ve done all your research, because you don’t want to spend unnecessary money.

Things to ask or request from your primary care doctor or dermatologist:

  • Keep copies of records to take to other appointments
  • Ask for a bacterial culture to be done (just a swab)!
  • Was a tiny biopsy done and sent for regular H&E stain, a PAS stain (looks for fungal infections)?
  • A  tiny biopsy can be used  for “tissue culture” to look for deeper or unusual bacteria or other organisms?

Other doctors who may be able to help beside a dermatologist:

  • An allergist. If there is any question of problems with skin allergy, especially if a lot of chemicals or “natural” things were microneedled into the skin!
  • An infectious disease doctor. These doctors are expert at finding sometimes difficult or unusual infections in the skin
  • An endocrinologist. Could you have any hormone or other issues affecting your healing?

Hope this helps,   Dr. I


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
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