Dermapen MD Explained

Dermapen MD: Dr Alek Nikolic Explains The Dermapen MD

This post is aimed at explaining how the Dermapen works, some frequently asked questions and the treatment result differences between needling, fractional laser and the Dermapen. The Dermapen™ is a revolutionary micro-needling device which aims to tighten, lift and rejuvenate skin. The Dermapen™ can visibly improve the appearance of:

  • fine lines
  • wrinkles
  • surgical, acne and trauma scars
  • stretch marks
  • pigmentation

“My patients appreciate the minimal down time and how the treatment makes them look and feel.” – Dr Alek Nikolic

The Dermapen™ consists of two parts: an electric hand piece that plugs into the wall for a stable and consistent source of power, and a disposable needle tip, containing 12 microscopic needles. Once the needle tip is clicked into the hand piece, your Dermapen™ is ready for action. The internal motor of the Dermapen™, powered with revolutionary AOVN™ technology, causes the needles in the Dermapen Tip to oscillate at a rate of close to 110 revolutions per second. When the needle tip contacts the skin, the needles create tiny puncture in the skin’s surface, causing micro-trauma, and inducing an immune response, and subsequently, the creation of new healthy collagen. The punctures also act as micro-channels that carry topical nutrients used during the treatment deep into skin layers for an increased effect. Because the needles oscillate as quickly as they do, the tip of the Dermapen™ easily glides across the skin, without catching or causing any dermal tearing. This small, easy to operate device can produce similar, if not better, results to a fractional laser, without the risk of hyper or hypo-pigmentation, as well as other side effects and downtime associated with these effective, but potentially damaging ablative heat based treatments.

The Dermapen™ was the original micro needling system made available to the world market. Over the last few years, this has made the Dermapen™ the most widely used system by practitioners, as well as the most searched for automated needling treatment by the public.

Patient FAQ’s

Q: How many treatments are recommended for rejuvenation, acne scarring and stretch marks? (General guide)

Rejuvenation: 4-6 treatments, 4 weeks apart

Acne scarring: 6 treatments, 6 weeks apart

Stretch marks: 4-8 treatments, 4-6 weeks apart

Q: Should I prepare my skin before having a Dermapen™ MD Treatment?

For optimal results, a period of effective active treatment creams, such as Vitamin A, C or Resveratrol & Procyanidin is recommended to allow the skin’s strength to build-up (especially for thin or delicate skin areas). Consult your clinician about the recommended DP Dermaceuticals™ Pre- and Post- procedure protocol.

Q: How long should it take before I see results?

Typically, you will see results after the first treatment. Lasting and more significant results will occur after 4 to 6 treatments (spaced 4-6 weeks apart). Your skin will continue to improve over the next 6-12 months after a course of treatments and when combined with the recommended post treatment care.

Q: Is the treatment painful?

For minimum needle depths Dermapen™ MD Treatments are painless. Treatments over 0.5mm deep, may require a topical anaesthetic cream to be applied for 15-40 minutes before the procedure. This will render the treatments virtually pain free. We tend to place a strong topical anaesthetic cream on every patient that sits on the skin for at least 30 minutes.

Q: Is there any downtime after treatments?

Generally, no but you may experience facial redness for 12-48 hours after the treatment. Most people can return to normal daily activities immediately after the treatment. Application of a breathable camouflage will seal the skin and cover any redness for an immediate return to work.

Q: How soon after filler injections can I have a Dermapen™ MD Treatment?

It is recommended to wait at least 7 days after filler injections, so that any post treatment bruising from the fillers can settle. It is also possible to have your Dermapen™ MD Treatment several days before having fillers injected. Consult with your practitioner prior to determine exactly how long a wait is best in each particular case.

Q: How much do the Dermapen™ MD treatments cost?

Please contact us at Dr Alek Nikolic’s practice to find out how much Dermapen™ MD treatments cost for the face, neck and face/neck combination treatments: 021 7970960

Dermapen™ MD vs. Dermal Rollers

Dermal rollers are simpler, less tech-savvy predecessors to the Dermapen™. A dermal roller consists of a rolling pin covered with tiny needles. During a derma roller treatment, the roller is rolled across the skin, leaving behind a trail of microscopic punctures. While the needle roller is effective, the rolling action of the device pushes the skin into mounds, and causes the needles to enter AND exit the skin at an angle, creating lateral epidermal tears. The tearing is NOT due to the needles not being “properly anchored” in the skin, but the simple mechanics of angular needle entry. Whilst not detrimental to the results, this makes the treatment much more painful, and often causes a longer downtime for the patient.

The Dermapen™’s needles enter the skin at a 90-degree angle, eliminating the pain and epidermal tearing associated with dermal rollers. Dermapen™’s patent-pending AOVN™ technology keeps the oscillation speed of the motor at its optimal rate for smooth, drag-less operation.

Dermapen™ MD vs. Fractional Laser

Dermapen™ MD Treatments are one example of what is known as “fractional rejuvenation”, a term which gets its name from fractional lasers, the technology closest to Dermapen™ MD in theory and results. Fractional lasers use heat to systematically ablate “fractions” of the skin’s surface, while leaving surrounding areas intact, essentially “drilling holes” in the skin to produce a wound healing response. The unaffected tissue around the holes acts as a reservoir for fibroblasts and stem cells needed for regeneration of affected segments. Fractional radio frequency devices work on a similar principle and have many of the same side effects as fractional lasers.


Dermapen™ MD also makes holes in the skin to produce a wound healing response, leaving the surrounding tissue unaffected. While these technologies have similar results, they achieve them in very different ways, generating very different side effect profiles. Lasers use light to either char and obliterate the epidermis, or “denature” the collagen, depending on the laser type and manufacturer. Dermapen™, on the other hand, creates reproducible and consistent micro-punctures in the skin without the damaging side effects of heat.

Dermapen™’s mode of action limits the occurrence of side effects specific to fractional lasers, such as:

  1. Pain; higher in dark skinned patients (Mahmoud et al., 2010)
  2. Persistent erythema (Gold 2010)
  3. Infections (viral and bacterial). Facial herpes reported in 10.6% of patients in spite of antiviral prophylaxis (Naouri et al., 2011)
  4. Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation in up to 18% (Vaiyavatjamai and Wattanakrai, 2011; Chan et al., 2010; Mahmoud et al., 2010; Yeung et al., 2012)
  5. Post-inflammatory hypo-pigmentation – seen in patients up to two years after a laser treatment. Occurs in up to 20% of patients with photo-aged skin (Gold 2001).
  6. Light-based therapy is not for all skin types. The indications for use cleared by the FDA may put limits on the skin types that can be treated with a fractional laser, as is often seen with Fitzpatrick skin types 4, 5 and 6 (darker skin colours). The fractional holes “drilled” by the laser are affected by skin type, skin thickness, and vascularity. Alternatively, the Dermapen™ MD is “colour-blind” and is therefore safe for virtually all skin types. A major complication from light-based therapy includes Post-Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation (PIH) in Oriental, Mediterranean, and African skin types (Yeung et al., 2012; Metelitsa and Alster 2010; Chan et al., 2007). PIH presents as symmetric hyper-pigmented macules and patches on the face, and is one of the most common and distressing pigmentary disorders seen in dermatology clinics. It is notably difficult to treat and may relapse. Micro-needling, for the most part, has not had reports of PIH complications and thus is much safer for darker skin types (Fabbrocini et al., 2009)