Updated: Mar 24, 2019
When you first see and consider using a derma roller for hair growth you will probably be put off. It looks a bit like a device of torture, with hundreds of micro needles on a roller, ready to prick your skin and potentially hurt quite a lot in the process.
But the reality is that if used correctly, micro needling does not hurt and can have positive benefits on the skin and hair.
Derma rollers are already routinely used to treat acne scars, and increasingly for skin blemishes and impurities, and appears that the same process that works on the scalp and hair follicles.
So is using a derma roller to stimulate hair growth easy to do, worth trying, and affordable?
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How Does Derma Rollering Work On Hair?
Generally, derma rolling works by penetrating the skin and causing microscopic wounds. This provokes the bodies healing response in that area, mainly in the increased production of collagen, which can have very positive effects on the health of our skin.
There are numerous studies that confirm their ability shrink scarring related to acne, and more recently attention has turned scientifically to whether derma rollers can increase the scalp's ability to regenerate hair follicles that have previously been inflamed, closed up and stopped producing hair.
There have been several studies confirming this. In 2013 a study was conducted on 100 patients over 12 weeks. The 50 patients who used a derma roller in addition to a liquid hair restoration product saw a significant increase in hair count from follicles over that time. The conclusion is that using a derma roller certainly can provoke the hair into regrowth.
Generally, the theory is that micro needling can stimulate the hair follicles which have been closed down through an increase in DHT, the main culprit behind male pattern baldness. Micro needling appears to play a role in increasing collagen and bloodflow, opening up the follicles again.
What Derma Roller Needle Size Should I Use?
So when you are looking for the best derma roller to use on your scalp, the first thing you will come up against is the question of which needle size to use.
There are lots of gauges of needle size, from as low as 0.2mm to as high as 2mm. Studies and online feedback suggest that a needle size greater than 1.5 mm can damage the scalp and follicles too much, resulting in collagen breakdown.
The general recommendation seems to be to use a needle size between 0.5mm and 1mm for use on the scalp, although in this study we just mentioned a 1.5mm needle size was used, so take that as a maximum.
How To Use A Derma Roller For Hair Growth
You will be delighted to know that it's really simple to learn how to use a derma roller on your scalp.
Generally, the procedure is straightforward and simple, consisting of:
Gently draw the roller forwards over the top scalpRepeat that process moving across the scalp, from one side of the head to the otherMove diagonally across areas that are particularly devoid of hair
At every stage make sure you are pressing firmly but not too hard, and that the pressure is even. Watch out for blood spots as this is evidence of potentially pressing too hard. A larger size of needle will damage the skin more easily.
Be aware that this could leave your scalp very red, especially the day after. If you are very bald then you could plan to use a derma roller a day off from work for example.
This procedure should not be completed too often. Once every 1-2 weeks is more than enough to generate collagen production without damaging the skin. If you are using a smaller size needle, then you could increase this to once per week.
Why Am I Not Seeing Any Hair Growth Results?
If you continue to use a derma roller to help with attempted hair loss regrowth, you could start to see results in around a month, after around four sessions.
But it's important to remember that everybody is different, and in some people there may not be any positive response at all. But the evidence suggests that after a month, and certainly after month three, you should see a definite increase in hair thickness.
A lot of people are using a derma roller in conjunction with a specialist topical hair growth product such as minoxidil.
If you are not seeing results after a couple of months, then it's worth considering using minoxidil as well to see if this improves the situation.
Just be aware that should not apply minoxidil on the same day use a derma roller, ideally you should leave it at least 24 hours before first application.
Also, you mustn't expect a miracle. There is evidence a derma roller can help in stimulating the hair follicles to restart hair reduction, but the amount it will happen for you is unknown until you try.
On top of that, a lot will depend on genetics, age, and the severity of your condition.
Your hair grows in three stages, with an up to 3 months rest period in the follicle once a hair falls out, known as the Telogen stage. So it could be more than three months before you start to see any effects.
Micro Needling Side Effects
As we have mentioned already, a derma roller has the potential to leave blood spots on the scalp.
In addition, a redness, a rash, can also occur for a couple of days after you have undertaken micro needling either using a derma roller at home, or in a specialist center.
Other than that, micro needling should not have any other side effects.
But if you do choose to use micro needling in conjunction with a topical hair restoration treatment such as minoxidil, then you should tread carefully. If you use a needle size that is large and then apply minoxidil, it can cause something called systematic absorption. Basically the minoxidil goes straight into the scalp tissues.
This can cause increased heart rate in the hours after absorption takes place, which can obviously be detrimental sleep, or possibly dangerous for somebody with an existing heart condition.
Derma Roller For Hair Growth: Tips
In terms of the size of needle to use, the basic rule is the bigger the size the less often you should use it. On top of that, anything larger than 1.5mm risks having a negative effect on collagen production.There is some evidence that using two different sizes of needle can have a better effect. Some professional centers advocate using a small sized needle followed by a larger size, to create an uneven application.Some people apply minoxidil, or similar, at the same time as using a derma roller. They do this either before using the derma roller, or afterwards. However, if you choose to do this you should steer clear of larger needle size, sticking to around 0.5mm. A larger needle size than 1mm or so should not be used unless you wait 24 hours or more before applying the topical hair treatment.A basic rule to watch out for is that the more hair, the longer the needle will have to be to work efficiently. In females with long hair, it's recommended that a derma stamp is used instead of a roller, because this can be pressed directly downwards without getting tangled up in the hair as it rolls across it.The hair should be wet when treated. This will make it flatter, thicker and easier to roll through.