Skin Needling Lesson 4: Needle Size and Frequency

Needle Diameter and Length

You need to use the right size needles at the correct frequency to get the best results. The needles need to go through the entire epidermis and reach the dermis in order to stimulate skin matrix synthesis. The epidermis varies in thickness between different individuals and on different areas of the body. It is thinnest on the eyelids, which should never be needled, at .05mm thick and thickest on the palms and soles of the feet, averaging between .8mm and 1.5mm thick. Facial skin and skin on the breasts, neck and inner arms is thinner than other skin on body. Men have thicker skin than women and young people have thicker skin than older people. These variations can make it difficult to choose the right needle length.

Most experienced skin care enthusiasts that perform needling at home use a 1.0mm or 1.5mm needle length. 1.0mm is typical for the face and thin body skin like the breasts. 1.5mm is good to treat thicker body skin like thighs and abdomen. People with thin facial skin often use a needle length of .5mm or .75mm. Men treating stretch marks on the legs and arms will often use a 2.0mm needle length.

Needles longer than 2.0mm are very rarely required. In the past, professional needling was done with a 3.0mm needle length, but this is now considered unnecessary. Biopsies of needled skin show that new matrix formation only occurs in the upper papillary dermis and no deeper than .6mm below the epidermis. Needling deeper is likely unnecessary to stimulate skin matrix production.

Only use needles designed for skin needling. Most skin needles are tapered and measure .25mm at the base. Do not use tattoo needles or a tattoo machines. Tattoo needles are usually .35mm thick and may cause scarring. Tattoo machines needle too densely and deeply and will scar the skin. Do not use sewing needles under any circumstances.


Needling at the right frequency is extremely important. This is the one area where you may not want to follow the recommendations included with your needling tool. Needling too often will not enhance results; in fact quite the opposite is true. If the skin is needled too often, the process stimulates collagenase, a protein that attacks the bonds of collagen and destroys the newly formed collagen bundles.

The skin needs adequate time between needling treatments to heal and start producing more components of the skin matrix. In the first week or two after needling, the skin produces type III collagen, which is weaker and more fragile than the type I collagen that replaces it later in the tissue remodeling process. If you needle while there is still a lot of type III collagen in the skin, you can destroy it and undo the benefits of your previous needling treatment.

You should not perform PCI with a 1.0mm or 1.5mm roller more than once a month. Some misinformation on the Internet recommends doing this once a week, or even once a day. No matter what else you read, never ever needle more than once a month! This is the minimum time your skin needs to recover and regenerate from needling. Monthly needling may not even be necessary, but it is generally safe. Many of the before and after pictures contained in scientific literature about skin needling show dramatic results 4 to 6 months after a single treatment.

Many experienced skin care enthusiasts prefer a 6 to 12 week recovery period. This allows the user to better evaluate the progress after each needling treatment. The amount of treatments you’ll need varies, but most people get great results after repeating the process 4 – 10 times. Using collagen-stimulating actives will help you get faster results, but you’re still unlikely to see any major improvement until 4 months after your first treatment.

If you are working on multiple areas with skin damage, don’t treat them all at once. This will help ensure your body’s healing mechanisms are not overwhelmed. If you are working on stretch marks on the breasts, abdomen, and thighs, treat each area a week apart.