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Microneedling improves appearance of acne scars

A systematic literature review by researchers at Boston University has confirmed that microneedling is an effective treatment for acne scars. Findings of the review were published in Dermatologic Surgery (July 23, 2019).

In an effort to synthesize previous findings, researchers reviewed all scientific studies conducted on microneedling for the treatment of acne scars from 2009 to 2018 and have recommended randomized controlled trials that compare microneedling to other popular minimally invasive treatments.

Researchers analyzed 33 studies from the 10-year period studying both the efficacy of treating acne scarring with microneedling, microneedling in combination with other topical treatments and overall patient satisfaction.

Their analysis found all 33 articles showed an improvement of acne scar appearance as well as increased patient satisfaction when microneedling was used in combination with another therapy.

Additionally, under the microscope the benefits of microneedling can be observed, including a decrease in inflammatory markers released by cells, and an overall increase in collagen and skin rejuvenating cell markers to help heal scarring.

“While there have been multiple smaller research studies and case reports which have shown the efficacy of microneedling with acne scarring, there has never been any consistent data and no one decided to take a step back, synthesize and look at what the evidence was telling us as a whole,” explained Dr. Neelam Vashi, one of the authors of the study, in a press release. “With this systematic way of looking at all the data over the past decade, it is clear that microneedling works and helps reduce the appearance of acne scars for patients. Now the next step is to standardize this information and look at better ways to optimize this treatment for our patients.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S., affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. With the growing popularity of microneedling, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued regulations on what is considered a safe, medical-grade microneedling device in 2018. However, concerns about efficacy and safety have persisted over the years.

“Microneedling works,” said Dr. Vashi, associate professor of dermatology at the Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Center at Boston Medical Center. “Now it is time to evaluate how these treatments effect those with darker skin and how we can create strategies that are cost effective for not only the physician providing these services but most importantly for the patients who want solutions to these often debilitating scars.”

With the studies reviewed, Boston University researchers believe the gap in the research for microneedling can now be addressed with randomized controlled trials comparing microneedling to other treatments.

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