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Micro channeling is one of the hottest trending non-surgical skin-enhancing procedures. While it’s similar to microneedling, it has notable and important differences. At the Aesthetic Meeting in April, micro channeling was dubbed a “hot topic.” After attending a session on the benefits of the treatment and watching doctors learn how to use the tool, I wanted to learn more about this new wave of skin-improving technology. I turned to experts to explain how micro channeling is different from microneedling, what its benefits are and who might be a good candidate for it.

What is micro channeling?

To put it simply, New Orleans, Louisiana dermatologist Mary Lupo, MD explains that micro channeling involves “making controlled needle channels into the skin for improved penetration of topicals or PRP (platelet-rich plasma injections) and/or to cause micro-injuries to stimulate wound repair (resulting in new collagen).”

What is the difference between micro channeling and microneedling?

“Micro channeling is basically a different style of microneedling [with a] different technique and device,” says Beverly Hills, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD. “The procedure of microneedling involves taking a roller with multiple sharp fine points and rolling it across the skin. Some systems use a different structure and actually drag the sharp tiny needles across the skin creating almost little channels. In contrast, the term micro channels refer to a different device that uses a plate that contains these tiny needles that are used to stamp the skin creating micro-injury to the skin through the formation of vertical channels.”

Some major differences to note between micro channeling and microneedling is that with micro channeling, the channels are “more vertical into the dermis,” and the wounds are more uniform in size and more superficial, notes Dr. Shamban. Dr. Lupo says micro channeling is usually done at .25 millimeters while microneedling is typically 1-3 millimeters.

“Microneedling and derma rolling injure the skin to stimulate the body’s natural healing process, thus rejuvenating skin,” explains Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD. “Micro channeling takes that a step further and uses a sterile, one-time-use device.”

Additionally, as its name applies, micro channeling offers the “ability to ‘channel’ fluids into the skin as the needles are hollow tubes that allow transfer of products into the skin, much as a regular ‘needle’ would do,” says Dr. Schlessinger.

The benefits of micro channeling versus microneedling

According to Dr. Schlessinger, one of the best benefits of micro channeling is that it helps boost collagen and elastin production in the skin. Other benefits he notes include improving rough texture, large pores, superficial acne and dull skin. “Both procedures allow the delivery of active ingredients deeper into the skin when applied immediately after the procedure,” says Dr. Shamban. 

Where micro channeling has a leg up is that, in theory, it’s less traumatic to the skin than microneedling, so it results in less inflammation, says Dr. Shamban. While classic roller techniques are rolled against the skin, which can result in micro-tears, Dr. Schlessinger points out that micro channeling is “administered in a completely different way. It’s applied perpendicular to the skin, much like a ‘stamp,’ which prevents bleeding and micro-tears.”

Micro channeling has a quicker recovery period

Micro channeling can be combined with other treatments. For example, Dr. Schlessinger likes to use it with hyaluronic acid fillers or Botox Cosmetic, but if you’re just getting micro channeling done, there’s almost zero downtime. “It requires no numbing, and there will be little to no blood, just redness after,” says Dr. Lupo. “Wiht microneedling, you look like raw meat for an hour or so and must have a topical anesthetic to tolerate.”

What should a patient expect during a micro channeling appointment?

Dr. Shamban says once the skin is cleansed, the doctor will begin the treatment. In Dr. Schlessinger’s practice, the device is applied to the treatment area for about 30 minutes. During this time, tiny needles penetrate the skin and infuse the chosen serum into the skin.

Who is a good candidate for micro channeling?

Dr. Shamban says micro channeling is especially great for patients with “fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars or dull skin.” However, Dr. Lupo notes that patients with an active inflammatory skin condition at the site, such as rosacea, active eczema, psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis, should avoid the treatment. Talk with your dermatologist before getting the treatment about whether it’s right for your skin.

Micro channeling aftercare tips

Since there’s virtually no downtime, there’s not a ton of aftercare that needs to happen. Following a micro channeling treatment, Dr. Shamban says you shouldn’t wash your face for six hours or apply anything to your face for two hours, including sunscreen or skin care products. “No exfoliation or sun for seven days, no makeup for a day, and avoid strenuous exercise for a couple of days,” advises Dr. Shamban.

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