What is dermarolling?
Dermarolling, also known as microneedling, is the act of using a derma roller to create tiny cuts on the skin. When the cuts on the skin begin to heal, they produce collagen. The collagen produced then helps to heal, rejuvenate, and plumpen the skin. Dermarolling is said to reduce the appearance of acne scars, fine lines, and stretch marks, tightens the skin, and helps with reducing discoloration. Although many people use this method for their face, it has become increasingly popular to use this method over injections, in trying to plumpen your lips.
What is a dermaroller?
A dermaroller is a small handheld cylindrical shaped device. The top part of it is made up of tiny needles, that get rolled over the skin. Dermarollers are classified by needle size, and those sizes range anywhere from 0.25mm to 3.0mm, with 1.5mm being the most common. What size you get depends on which part of the body you're dermarolling.
How does it work?
When rolled over the skin, the dermaroller needles create tiny cuts. Creating those tiny cuts kick starts the repair process which involves producing collagen. Collagen helps strengthen and tighten the skin, and causes the skin to become supple. So, although you're damaging the skin, your skin will be healthier after you're done. After you derma roll, your skin becomes more susceptible to any healthy oils or ointments that you expose it to. Dermarolling helps to enhance the effectiveness of any products that you use. So, apply this process to your lips. The collagen in and around your lips grows back after being damaged, creating plumper lips.
Things to know before dermarolling your lips
Typically when using a derma roller on your face, you would cleanse and exfoliate the skin, moisturize and proceed with dermarolling your face. Dermarolling your lips is a little different. When dermarolling your lips, make sure to use a numbing cream before you proceed. This will help with the pain. Your lips have a lot more blood vessels in them than any other part of your face, and are a lot less likely to produce the same amount of collagen as your face would. Therefore, dermarolling your lips may not have the same effect as dermarolling your face would.
While this isn't an extreme procedure, there is still a chance that you could end up doing some damage. You're creating open wounds on your lips and around your mouth. The mouth carries a lot of bacteria, meaning that there is the risk of infection. You also run the risk of reopening any cold sores that you may have had before. Using a dermaroller on your own at home is also very risky because you are not in a sterilized area. Dermarolling makes you bleed, and that blood sits on the dermaroller. If you aren't careful and extremely clean, the blood left on the dermaroller from your previous use could cause bad infections. We talked about reopening cold sores, but dermarolling can actually produce new ones. There are a lot of risks associated with this at-home process, so be sure that you are meticulously cleaning your dermaroller after each use.
How to pick your dermaroller?
When picking a dermaroller, make sure you're putting quality ahead of quantity. While a cheaper dermaroller may get the job done, it could do some damage to your skin. Dermarollers come in various sizes, starting at .25mm and getting as big as 3.0mm.
A .25mm dermaroller is best used for increasing the absorption of products (facial oils and creams), and can be used every other day. Using a .25mm derma roller will not result in any bleeding, but it will also not help with collagen growth.
The next size is 0.5mm, which can be used once every three weeks. This is best used for superficial damage to the skin. You may experience a very small amount of collagen growth, but not enough to make a difference. The amount of bleeding and pain experienced with this size needle is very minimal.
The sizes between 0.75mm and 1.0mm are great for wrinkles, stretch marks, and scars. You bleed more with these sizes because you're causing more damage. Some places say you should wait at least four to seven days before using this size dermaroller on your skin, and some places say to only use these sizes once a month. If you're new to dermarolling, it's better to wait a month between uses, until you figure out what your skin can handle.
Dermarollers between 1.5mm and 3.0mm are for extreme cases, and should only be used once every six to eight weeks. These dermarollers cause a lot of bleeding, and result in a lot of pain. Only use these for severe stretch marks and scarring. You should use these sizes on the body rather than the face.
The best sizes to use for your lips are dermarollers sized .25mm. If you can find a smaller one, then even better, but typically the smallest size is .25mm.
Is it painful?
The short answer is yes. Even if you're using the smallest dermaroller you can find, this process is still going to be painful. Dermarollers sized .25mm and smaller are great and relatively painless when used on the face, but since the mouth is one of the most sensitive parts of your body, there will be more pain than you would typically experience. Your lips contain a lot of nerve endings, and you're essentially taking a bunch of needles to one of the most sensitive parts of your body, and cutting yourself multiple times in one sitting.
The use of a numbing cream that is safe for your lips may help in reducing the painfulness, but that isn't guaranteed. If you don't like the idea of putting a numbing cream on your lips, you could go the natural route and use ice. Hold the ice to your lips until they are numb. Be careful with this though. Because your lips will be numb, you may end up going a little crazy with the dermaroller. The general rule is to roll the dermaroller across your face ten times. Since you would be rolling your lips, try doing it five times to start. Patience is key with this process, and safety should always come first. Take baby steps until you figure out what works for you.
Does dermarolling really plump up your lips?
There are a bunch of different answers on this, but a lot of doctors and experts feel that it doesn't really work. They feel that dermarollers should not be used on the lips themselves, and that the result may not be the one that you desire. While the natural red or pink color that arises from the dermarolling process may last, the plumping effect does not last very long.
According to Judith Hellman M.D., a dermatologist based in New York, "If someone microneedles their lips, the result would be tremendous swelling and a widely distorted look, which would look horrible for two to three days, then for another two to three days would look very swollen, after which the lips would go back to exactly the same size as before." People who have dermarolled their lips say that there is not really a huge difference before and after. If you're looking to tighten the area around the lips, then you will likely see a difference. She also states that "there won't be a similar collagen build-up to what we see in the facial skin. In the end, microneedling the lips is an exceedingly painful process, and the results look distorted and unnatural and go away within a few days." However, a good thing to keep in mind that everyone is different so where as some people may not experience results, you may have success.
Injections or dermarolling?
According to Dr. Judith Hellman, dermarolling "results in asymmetrical and exaggerated swelling for a few days, and only the color remains in the end. Thin lips stay thin with the look of lipstick." So, dermarolling may not give you the long lasting, visually appealing results that you were hoping for. Dermarolling your lips isn't really safe, and is actually very painful. Dr. Hellman recommends that "anyone seriously interested in lip plumping should seek out a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for filler injections, which are the only way to get visually pleasing results safely." Yes, they're more expensive, but the results are better, they're long lasting, and the process is safer. Dermarolling is good for your face, or any other area that you're looking to tighten.
All in all, dermarolling your lips is painful, can lead to infection, and does not yield lasting results. Derma rolling the face results in the ability to take in a lot of healthy oils and nutrients, but also results in the skins ability to take in a lot of things that can harm your skin. The same goes for your lips and the surrounding area. You're even more prone to infection and bacteria when dermarolling your lips. Also, when you derma roll your face, there is a lot of irritation, and there is often a period of time that you have to wait before being able to derma roll again. This applies to the lips as well. With the lips being a naturally sensitive area, they will likely be sore and even more sensitive after dermarolling. There will be that period of time that you have to wait between treatments, resulting in an inconsistent look. If you would like to try dermarolling, you should definitely go for it but maybe not on your lips. Dermarolling does have a lot of benefits, such as preventing premature wrinkles, reducing the look of discoloration on the skin, reducing the visibility and size of pores, and reducing stretch marks. Dermarolling is a healthy and positive process when used anywhere else but your lips. Injections are the way to go.