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Derma Roller For Hair Growth: Expert Review 2024
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on March 20, 2024

Derma rolling, also known as micro-needling, is a minimally invasive treatment that’s proven to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, stretch marks, and acne scars [1]. Using a derma roller for stimulating hair growth has also been shown to be effective in treating certain types of hair loss [2].

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What derma rolling for hair growth is and how effective it can be
  • How to use a derma roller for hair
  • The side effects of derma rolling
  • How to combine derma rolling with other treatments for best hair growth results.
Table of Contents

What is a derma roller?

A derma roller is a handheld instrument that includes dozens of tiny needles which are rolled over the skin, creating lots of tiny pinpricks in the skin’s surface, also known as micropores. Each needle is made of surgical stainless steel or medical-grade titanium.

photo of a hand-held derma-roller

The injuries sustained from these tiny pinpricks are believed to induce the body’s healing response. For example, derma rolling on the skin has been shown to stimulate collagen production in the skin as the wounds heal [2]. That’s why it’s often used for skin care concerns like wrinkles and stretch marks.

Many people are now turning to derma rollers and micro-needling to treat hair loss. So does it really work at promoting new hair growth?

Does derma rolling work for hair regrowth?

Recent evidence suggests derma rolling can boost hair regrowth as well as tackle skin concerns [2-6].

One study found that derma rolling could significantly improve the impact of Minoxidil on new hair growth. 82% of participants who used microneedling with Minoxidil reported hair improvements of more than 50%, compared with just 4.5% of those using Minoxidil alone [3].

Investigators also noted that the change in average hair count was four times higher in those using derma rolling together with Minoxidil.

Before and after photos of two patients who used micro-needling combined with Minoxidil treatment
Two patients with baseline hair loss (left) and after microneedling combined with Minoxidil treatment (right).

Micro-needling can also enhance the effects of Finasteride combined with Minoxidil in men with male pattern baldness [5]. This suggests that derma rolling could help men who haven’t seen the results they want from traditional male hair loss treatments.

Derma rolling can also be a safe, effective treatment for women with female pattern hair loss. One study found that micro-needling, combined with a growth factor solution known as SGF-57, could treat women’s hair loss where the average hair count increased by more than 10% [7]. While SGF-57 isn’t a commercially available formula, this study suggests micro-needling may provide an additional treatment option for women with hair loss.

Another study found a slight clinical improvement in hair regrowth when using micro-needling as a female hair loss treatment [8]:

Before and after derma-rolling treatments in a patient with diffuse thinning
A: Diffuse thinning across the scalp at baseline. B: Slight clinical improvement after three derma rolling sessions.

While these results are promising, Dr. Michael May, chief surgeon at the Wimpole Clinic, warns about over-relying on derma rolling to stimulate hair growth:

“There is growing evidence for the use of derma rollers for hair loss, but most studies are small and have investigated the efficacy of micro-needling alongside other treatments. So you might not see the results you want from derma rolling alone.”

  • So far, the research into derma rolling for hair consists of mostly small-scale studies. So while the results are promising, more evidence is needed to verify the validity of these studies.

  • In the largest study to date, 100 men with male pattern baldness were split into two groups: one treated with weekly micro-needling and 1ml daily Minoxidil application, the other treated with Minoxidil only [3]. The mean change in hair count at week 12 was significantly greater for the micro-needling group compared to the Minoxidil group. No serious side effects were noted in either group.

  • Another smaller study investigated the effects of derma rolling on four men with male pattern baldness who had been treated with Minoxidil and Finasteride for 2-5 years [5]. While these treatments helped slow their hair loss, they hadn’t seen significant regrowth. After 8-10 sessions of derma rolling, new hair growth was seen in all four patients. Patient satisfaction was more than 75% in three patients, and more than 50% in the fourth patient.

  • A small study into the impact of derma rolling for female pattern baldness treated 11 Korean women with weekly micro-needling treatments for five weeks and a growth factor solution known as SGF-57 [7]. This treatment was found to boost hair density and hair count. Patient pain scores suggested marginal pain in the treated area.

  • Researchers found that derma rolling offered slight clinical improvements for one 37-year-old woman with female pattern hair loss [8]. Unlike other studies, this study didn’t combine micro-needling with other treatments. So derma rolling alone may not be enough to create significant hair growth improvements.

Does derma roller work for beard growth?

While there aren’t currently any scientific studies examining the effectiveness of beard rollers for beard growth, it is plausible that the same mechanism could potentially apply to facial hair.

Derma roller for hair growth: Before and after

These images show the impact of derma rolling on hair growth before and after. Each patient had seen poor results using Minoxidil and Finasteride and turned to micro-needling to enhance their hair.

Here are the results before and after 15 derma rolling sessions, with continued use of Minoxidil/Finasteride.

Micro-needling before and after 6 months

30-year-old patient with Norwood stage 5 hair loss before and after six months of microneedling

before and 6 months after micro-needling in a 28 year old patient

A 28-year-old patient with Norwood stage 7 hair loss before and after six months of micro-needling.

35-year-old patient before and after six months of derma rolling for hair.
35-year-old patient before and after six months of derma rolling for hair.

How does a derma roller for hair growth work?

Derma rolling is believed to help with hair growth through a few different mechanisms. These include [8]:

  • Improved absorption of hair growth formulas — The micropores created by derma rolling can make it easier for solutions like topical Minoxidil and topical Finasteride to penetrate the scalp skin.
  • Increased platelet-derived growth factor — Platelets are found in your blood, and they’re essential for wound healing and blood vessel growth. Platelet-derived growth factors can promote cell proliferation in the hair follicles [9].
  • Hair follicle bulge activation — Wound healing mechanisms caused by derma rolling can activate stem cells in the hair bulge [5].

Studies have consistently shown that derma rolling for hair growth works best when combined with topical hair loss treatments like Minoxidil.

While most studies have focused on using micro-needling for pattern hair loss, one has also shown it can also treat severe alopecia areata when used with topical betamethasone (a corticosteroid cream) [6].

Who can use a derma roller for hair growth?

Derma rolling is suitable for both men and women to use at home [10]. It’s also been shown to help treat several types of hair loss, including androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness), alopecia areata, and telogen effluvium [4].

One study even used derma rolling for hair loss in children [6]. However, Dr. May warns against trying this at home:

“Derma rolling can be an uncomfortable procedure, and it’s only used for cosmetic purposes, so it’s not suitable for most children. If you suspect your child has a hair loss condition, consult with their GP, then speak to a professional hair loss clinic for a further diagnosis if necessary.”

Derma rolling after a hair transplant may also be an effective way to promote hair growth, although the research is very limited. One study found that two men who hadn’t seen sufficient results after a hair transplant improved growth with micro-needling treatment [5].

Derma rollers vs derma stamps: Which is best?

While many people choose to use a derma roller for hair growth, other similar devices can have a similar impact. Instead of being rolled across the scalp, derma stamps are pressed along your balding areas.

Some people prefer derma stamps as they’re less likely to pull on or get caught in your existing hair, which can be uncomfortable and make bald patches appear larger.

Watch this video for a comprehensive comparison of the different types of derma-rolling devices:

How to use a derma roller for hair growth

For best results, it’s a good idea to have micro-needling or derma rolling treatment at a professional hair loss clinic. Hair loss specialists can determine the most appropriate needle size and depth to get the best possible results based on your specific type of hair loss.

However, derma rollers are available for home use. Remember that needles are involved in this treatment, so take care. Follow these steps to use a derma roller for hair growth at home:

  1. Clean and disinfect your derma roller. Use a toothbrush to scrub the roller clean, and let it soak in rubbing alcohol for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Clean your scalp.
  3. Apply a numbing cream if required. A numbing cream can help if you find the process uncomfortable and/or you’re using a longer needle.
  4. Move the derma roller or derma stamp across your scalp horizontally. Focus on your balding areas.
  5. Press down enough that you feel some pressure, but not so hard that you break the skin or feel pain.
  6. Repeat several times. The exact amount will depend on which needle size you use — smaller needles can be used more frequently without breaking the skin.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6, moving the derma roller vertically and then diagonally across the scalp.
  8. Disinfect your derma roller again.
  9. Repeat the whole process no more than twice a week. Most studies have shown that derma rolling once a week is effective for hair growth.

Derma roller sizes: Which should you use?

Derma rollers are available in several sizes. So which is most effective and appropriate for you?

The table below compares the hair derma roller sizes available for home use so you can decide which size is best for you, including how many times you should use the derma roller for your hair:

Derma roller sizeRecommended frequencyProsCons
0.25mmEvery other day
  • Can help improve the absorption of other solutions
  • No numbing agent needed
  • May only help if used in conjunction with a topical treatment
  • One study found this size to be ineffective [4]
0.5mm (recommended)Up to three times a week
  • Can help improve the absorption of other solutions
  • No numbing agent needed
  • Some studies have found that 0.6mm is the optimum needle size [4]
  • May only help if used in conjunction with a topical treatment
1mmOnce every 10-14 days
  • Likely to be safe and effective for improving the absorption of other solutions
  • No clinical evidence for use of this needle size
  • Numbing agent may be needed
1.5mmOnce every 3-4 weeks
  • Has been shown to enhance the effects of Finasteride, Minoxidil, and hair transplants [5]
  • Larger needles may cause more discomfort
  • Numbing agent may be needed

Needles larger than 1.5mm aren’t usually necessary, especially for home use.

Needles measuring 0.6mm may be the most effective size for treating hair loss [4]. While 0.6mm isn’t a common commercial size, 0.5mm derma rollers are widely available. So this is a good place to start if you haven’t used a home derma roller or derma stamp before.

Images comparing a 1.2mm micro-needling treatment (A) with 0.6mm micro-needling treatment.
Images comparing a 1.2mm micro-needling treatment (A) with 0.6mm micro-needling treatment.

How often should I use a derma roller?

The table above shows the maximum frequency you should use a derma roller on your scalp. For most people, derma rolling once a week is enough to see results.

Don’t exceed the recommended frequency, as derma rolling too often can create scar tissue, which may inhibit future hair growth. It can also become more challenging if you decide to have a hair transplant in the future (although it’s still possible to have a hair transplant on scar tissue).

What are the side effects of using a derma roller?

Derma rolling isn’t associated with many serious or concerning side effects. The most commonly seen side effects of derma rolling for hair include:

  • Itchiness on the affected area
  • Redness and bruising
  • Bleeding (especially if using longer needles)
  • Skin tightness
  • Swelling

Dr. May says:

“Derma rolling has very few side effects, but it can be an uncomfortable procedure. To minimise the risk of discomfort and other side effects, make sure you’re using an appropriate needle size, and keep any wounds clean to prevent infection.”

Home derma rolling vs professional derma rolling

Many people turn to derma rolling because it’s an accessible, economical treatment you can perform at home. Home derma rollers are inexpensive, costing around £10-15 each.

You can also buy Minoxidil over-the-counter to use alongside micro-needling. A month’s supply of Minoxidil costs around £14.99.

Professional derma rolling is more expensive than home derma-rolling because you’re paying for the practitioner’s experience and expertise. While you’ll pay more, your technician will have a range of tools and needle sizes to ensure you get the best possible results. They can also recommend complementary treatments.

Can you combine derma rolling with other hair loss treatments?

Yes. Evidence suggests derma rolling for hair growth actually works best if you combine it with other treatments. One study found that derma rolling led to faster, earlier results in just one week compared with Minoxidil use alone [3]:

hair growth results comparing micro-needling to Minoxidil

Here are some of the most popular treatments to enhance your hairline alongside derma rolling:

  • Minoxidil — A topical solution that widens the scalp blood vessels to stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles.
  • Finasteride — Microneedling has been shown to amplify the effects of taking 1mg oral Finasteride for hair loss [8].
  • Minoxidil & Finasteride — Combining the two above treatments can promote hair regrowth alongside derma rolling [8].
  • Topical corticosteroids — One study found that derma rolling could enhance the effects of topical betamethasone [6].
  • Hair transplantation — Using a derma roller when your hair grafts have fully healed may help encourage hair growth after FUE or FUT treatment.
  • Low-level laser therapy — Microneedling and LLLT can improve hair in patients who haven’t responded to Finasteride treatment alone [11].

Is derma rolling right for your hair loss?

By itself, derma rolling may bring minimal improvements to your hair. But if you use it in conjunction with other treatments like Minoxidil or Finasteride, it can significantly boost your chances of regrowth.

Derma rolling is suitable for multiple types of alopecia, and it can be done safely at home. It’s an effective entry-level treatment, but may also help those who have already tried other hair loss solutions.

Still unsure if derma rolling is right for you? Book a consultation at the Wimpole Clinic. We can discuss all your hair loss treatment options with you and set you on the road to rapid hair regrowth.

Derma Roller For Hair Growth: Expert Review 2024, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on March 20, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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