Medical vs Cosmetic Microneedling


Microneedling facial young woman gets skin care treatment

Cosmetic Needling vs. Medical Needling

There are two types of micro-needling: medical needling, which must be performed by a physician or medical professional under direct supervision of a physician on premises, and cosmetic needling, which can be done by a licensed skincare professional without a physician present. Both procedures lead to increased collagen production, improving the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, but they carry different (yet similar) risks, costs and healing times.  Which one is right for you?

Medical Needling

Medical needling uses longer needles (.5 mm and longer) to stimulate the dermis, your skin’s deeper layers. The longer needles (up to 2.5 mm) reach the deep dermis, making it effective for treating acne and other scars by breaking up scar tissue and inducing skin remodeling. Medical needling is an aggressive skin treatment and requires a medical grade topical numbing cream to minimize discomfort.  Contraindications to receiving a medical grade microneedling treatment include:

  • Collagen vascular diseases or cardiac abnormalities;
  • Rosacea and blood-clotting problems (blood thinners);
  • Active bacterial or fungal infection;
  • Immunosuppression; and/or,
  • Scars less than six months old

Healing time for medical microneedling averages 1 week and carries a greater risk of the following complications:

  • infection
  • skin pigment changes
  • reaction to topical medications used during treatment
  • facial fat atrophy, hollowing

Cosmetic Needling

Cosmetic needling uses short needles (less than .5 mm long) to fractionally stimulate the epidermis and upper-dermis, your skin’s outer layers. Cosmetic needling can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and can be combined with peels and microdermabrasion to improve acne scars.  Because cosmetic needling is less aggressive than medical microneedling, healing time and associated risks are lower.  Treatments can be completed with lighter topical numbing creams, or without any numbing for pregnant or lactating clients. Healing time is generally 48-72 hours, and a wider base of clients are eligible for treatment including immune suppressed clients, people with Rosacea, on blood thinners with scars less than 6 months old.  There is little to no risk of skin pigment changes or facial fat atrophy and infection is rare.

Choosing What's Best for You

Studies comparing the effectiveness of cosmetic and medical needling in treating wrinkles and other skin conditions in 44 women who had the treatments at least once a week. Objective measurements of wrinkles, pores, tone and pigmentation were used to determine the effects of various needle lengths, ranging from .2 to .3 mm (cosmetic) to .5 to 2 mm (medical). Results suggest that all needle depths produce some improvement on all measures, with an average of improving wrinkles by 26 percent and UV spots by 16 percent.

Why our Microneedling Sessions are so Successful

All of our needling treatments are done with an experienced medical esthetician and are combined with various other skin care modalities designed to reduce healing time and enhance your results! Our signature cosmetic microneedling treatments combine comfortable yet effective needling sessions with complete facials and include microdermabrasion, enzyme treatments, cooling hydrogel masks and LED light therapy.  Sessions may also be combined with hydrafacials and peels for even greater results, all at a price which is half of what you will normally pay for a microneedling treatment.

Read our reviews and book your microneeding treatment today!


  1. diane on March 10, 2020 at 8:39 am

    how much does a micro needling machine cost for a spa

    • Michelle on March 11, 2020 at 12:27 pm

      That’s a great question Diane! Prices vary depending on the brand of the device and the number of needle cartridges purchased in bulk packages. Spas have not only the cost of the device, but the consumables for disposable needles, protective sleeves, numbing cream and more. If you are a skin care professional and would like some help choosing a device I would be happy to speak with you. I also offer professional esthetic business coaching for licensed professionals interested in launching or building their esthetic practice.

  2. Mary Thompson on June 23, 2021 at 3:20 am

    Thank you for your informative article. Do you know if medical microneedling causing fat atrophy? Am late sixties and about 10 years ago, had laser for surface wrinkles. Noticed some fat loss from my face. Am scheduled for professional microneedling with PRP (not radiofrequency). Do not want to lose any fat from face. Thank you so much. Hope you are still monitoring this article.

    • Michelle on June 25, 2021 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Mary! Thank you for your question. Medical microneedling alone will not cause facial fat atrophy, as long as it is done at the recommended depth for the areas of the face. However, unusually deep treatments, specifically those done with Radio Frequency (Pixel RF, Morpheus RF, Profound, Vivace RF, Potenza RF) can result in the loss of facial fat. You are correct that certain laser resurfacing treatments can also can fat atrophy and unwanted changes in the skin. If you stick with regular professional microneedling combined with PRP, your results should be safe and beautiful.

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