Fractional Laser vs Microneedling: What’s the Difference?

Posted April 17, 2024 in Microneedling, Skin Care

Do you have skin issues that you want to address with a facial rejuvenation procedure? When treating signs of aging, uneven skin tone, and acne scars, both fractional laser resurfacing and microneedling are options for treatment. This blog discusses what each of these treatments are and how they compare. Specifically, breaking down the advantages of choosing microneedling over fractional laser treatment, how microneedling is often more effective than fractional lasers, the lower risks associated with microneedling, and what your microneedling options are.

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Facial Rejuvenation

Over the years, as people look to start their day inspired by the image they see reflected in the mirror, many different techniques have been developed for facial skin rejuvenation. One of the more recent skin care treatments for refreshing your complexion is microneedling, perhaps the best skin treatment available today. This innovative procedure can effectively treat fine lines, skin texture, acne scars, stretch marks, skin tone, and hyperpigmentation. Microneedling is not the same as fractional laser resurfacing and offers several advantages over laser treatments for facial skin rejuvenation.

What Is Fractional Laser Treatment?

Laser resurfacing is a treatment for fine lines, skin unevenness, sun-damaged skin, acne scars, and other texture issues and signs of aging. Different types of lasers are used for various treatments, but fractional lasers are made to reduce recovery time after treatment. Fractional lasers can minimize downtime by targeting problem areas while leaving some tissue within those areas untreated. The untreated skin tissue allows your skin to heal faster overall.

What Is Microneedling?

Microneedling is a facial rejuvenation method that is highly effective and minimally invasive. During this procedure, dozens of microneedles penetrate the treatment area, going from 0.25 mm to 3 mm into the skin. The microneedling process creates “micro-injuries” that enable the body’s natural healing process to treat the problem area (wrinkles, acne scars, uneven skin, etc), leaving you with smooth, blemish-free skin. Microneedling is an excellent way to address signs of aging in the face, as it stimulates collagen and elastin production, allowing your skin to feel and look younger.

How Fractional Laser and Microneedling Treatments Differ

Both microneedling and fractional laser treatments rely on a similar concept: injure the skin just slightly to initiate a natural healing response that ultimately leads to healthier, younger-looking skin. The treatments stimulate collagen and elastin production, promoting healthy skin regeneration. However, each technique uses a different method to accomplish this goal.

Fractional lasers use heat energy to penetrate the skin’s surface, heat the tissues, and trigger a healing response. Microneedling, on the other hand, uses needles to create microchannels in the skin and initiate a healing response without causing thermal damage to the tissues or protective epidermis.

Advantages of Microneedling Over Fractional Laser Treatments

Microneedling offers several advantages over fractional laser treatments. By leaving the surface skin intact, microneedling has a lower risk of infection and scarring. Because it does not rely on heat, there is also a lower risk of post-treatment hyperpigmentation. Lasers can traumatize the skin, cause uneven skin darkening, or may lead to flare-ups of rosacea or melasma. The fact that microneedling does not use lasers also makes it a suitable treatment for all skin types, whereas lasers are usually not recommended for darker skin.

Also, thermal treatments can be more painful during and after treatment and may take longer to heal than microneedling. Regular microneedling treatments can help refresh and rejuvenate the skin to look healthier, more vibrant, and more youthful in texture and tone.

Fractional Laser vs. Microneedling: Which Is More Effective?

Both fractional laser resurfacing and microneedling tackle similar treatment areas. With this in mind, the option that will be most effective for you mostly depends on your personal preference and goals. Both treatments provide long-lasting results and leave you with rejuvenated, smooth skin. Depending on your skin’s current state and goals, you may need multiple rounds of treatment with either fractional laser or microneedling to achieve your desired results.

A deciding factor for some patients may be looking at the risk factors. Some people choose to stay away from laser treatments because they don’t want to deal with potential scarring or hyperpigmentation issues. For others, choosing microneedling over fractional laser treatment is necessary because they have a darker skin tone that isn’t suited for laser procedures.

What Problem Areas Does Microneedling Treat?

Microneedling can be used as a treatment for the following skin conditions:

  • Fine lines, wrinkles, & age spots
  • Scars (acne scars, surgical scars, etc)
  • Sun damage
  • Hyperpigmentation (uneven skin tone)
  • Large pores
  • Sensitive skin

A consultation is the best way to determine if your skin issues can be treated with microneedling and to find out how many treatments may be needed to reach your skin goals.

Recovery Time: Fractional Laser vs. Microneedling

Fractional laser resurfacing and microneedling have minimal to no downtime associated with them. However, fractional laser treatments go deep into the skin; afterward, the skin is often red, tight, warm, and swollen. Due to the intensity of fractional laser resurfacing, patients usually need to avoid sun exposure for around four weeks after treatment since their skin will be very sensitive.

On the other hand, microneedling leaves the skin’s surface intact, so it is not as intense of a procedure. While your skin will also be sensitive after microneedling treatment, the redness usually lasts only a few hours. You’ll be given aftercare instructions for cleaning and moisturizing your skin twice daily. Avoiding sun exposure is also important after microneedling; however, this is typically shorter than if you get laser resurfacing treatment. With microneedling, you’ll only have to avoid wearing makeup for 24 hours after treatment. You can generally return to work and daily activities the day after your procedure.

What Are My Microneedling Options?

We offer VirtueRF microneedling and microneedling with PRP (platelet-rich plasma). VirtueRF is a microneedling platform with the latest technology in radiofrequency. This is a great option for patients who want to address signs of aging, improve any unevenness in their skin tone, or have bothersome acne scars.

Microneedling with PRP can help you achieve clearer, tighter skin and reduce the appearance of blemishes. Platelet-rich plasma is an ingredient naturally found in your blood cells. During this treatment, blood will be drawn from your body so the PRP in your blood cells can be removed and reinjected into the chosen treatment area. Your skin will be treated with both the microneedles and the PRP injections.

Want to Know More About Microneedling in Scottsdale, AZ?

Dr. Robert Spies uses microneedling at his Arizona practice for patient skin care and facial rejuvenation. To schedule your consultation for microneedling with Dr. Spies, call 480-359-1019 or complete our online contact form today.

Contact Us Today

Dr. Spies is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and highly experienced in breast lift surgery for over 35 years. If interested in undergoing this procedure, please feel free to call 480-359-1019 to schedule a consultation.

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Dr. Spies' office is located in Paradise Valley, Arizona, adjacent to the Paradise Valley Cosmetic Surgery Center.

Robert J. Spies, M.D.
5410 N Scottsdale Rd C 100
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Tel: 480-359-1019