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 . But using a derma roller for hair growth has also been shown to effectively treat certain types of hair loss .
In this article, you’ll learn:
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.
Derma rolling has been shown to stimulate collagen production in the skin as the wounds heal . That’s why it’s often used for skin care concerns like wrinkles and stretch marks.
But many people are now turning to derma rollers and micro-needling for hair growth. So does it really work?
Recent evidence suggests derma rolling can boost hair growth as well as tackle skin concerns [2-6].
One study found that derma rolling could significantly improve the impact of Minoxidil on 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 .
Investigators also noted that the change in average hair count was four times higher in those using micro-needling alongside Minoxidil.
Micro-needling can also enhance the effects of Finasteride combined with Minoxidil in men with male pattern baldness . 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: the average hair count increased by more than 10% . 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 growth when using micro-needling as a female hair loss treatment :
While these results are promising, Dr. Michael May, chief surgeon at the Wimpole Clinic, warns about over-relying on derma rolling for 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.”
While there arent 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.
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.
30-year-old patient with Norwood stage 5 hair loss before and after six months of microneedling.
A 28-year-old patient with Norwood stage 7 hair loss before and after six months of micro-needling.
Derma rolling is believed to help with hair growth through a few different mechanisms. These include :
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) .
Derma rolling is suitable for both men and women to use at home . It’s also been shown to help treat several types of hair loss, including androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness), alopecia areata, and telogen effluvium .
One study even used derma rolling for hair loss in children . 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 .
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:
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 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:
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:
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 . 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.
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).
Derma rolling isn’t associated with many serious or concerning side effects. The most commonly seen side effects of derma rolling for hair include:
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.”
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.
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 :
Here are some of the most popular treatments to enhance your hairline alongside derma rolling:
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 free 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.
Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.