Using topical Minoxidil or a derma roller for hair growth are both effective therapies in reversing pattern hair loss or diffuse thinning in both men and women on their own, but when combined, they enhance each other’s effect
While Minoxidil opens up the blood vessels to bring your hair follicles more nutrients, derma rolling increases the absorption of topical medication through your scalp. That sounds like a good combination. So can they be used together for an even more powerful therapeutic effect?
Fortunately, science reveals that the answer is yes and that using Minoxidil and a derma roller together is indeed more effective than monotherapy with either one.
This article will tell you all you need to know about:
Also known as micro-needling, derma rolling is a hair growth therapy which creates microscopic puncture wounds in your scalp to trigger the body’s natural healing process. It involves moving a small tool covered in hundreds of very fine needles (0.25 – 1.5 mm in length), called a derma roller, across your scalp.
This treatment appears to be effective in treating pattern hair loss, but also alopecia areata and telogen effluvium, especially when used in combination with topical treatments .
Studies have shown that derma rolling can improve hair growth after 3-6 months of consistent use.
The efficacy of this treatment was confirmed by a study performed in 2019 on 50 patients of both genders with androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium. They received 3 sessions of micro-needling over the course of 6 months, after which they all reported a partial or complete reduction of hair loss. The increase in hair density and thickness was then confirmed by clinical analysis .
Further research performed in 2020 on 52 patients with alopecia areata revealed that after 12 weeks of treatment, the number of hair follicles in the research group who had received derma rolling had considerably increased in comparison to the control group and the hair length was also greater.
While the wounds created by the derma roller are very small and often do not even draw blood, your body will still work to heal them.
That means it stimulates local collagen production, improves cell proliferation in the hair follicle and activates stem cells in the hair bulge. This helps to naturally improve your hair growth.
Minoxidil is one of the most popular hair growth treatments in the world, but also one of the most regularly prescribed by hair loss experts, due to its safety and effectiveness .
In the UK, it is sold under the brand name Regaine (or Rogaine in the US) and it is available in different forms, such as a topical Minoxidil, Minoxidil shampoo or oral Minoxidil for hair loss.
The efficacy of this treatment has been clinically proven by many studies. A meta-analysis was performed in 2017 on 23 double-blind clinical trials involving patients with androgenetic alopecia .
Results revealed a mean increase of 12.41 hairs/cm2 in women who had received 2% Minoxidil treatment twice a day in comparison to the placebo group. Men who used the same concentration of Minoxidil saw an 8.11 hairs/cm2 increase in hair growth, while those who were treated with a solution of 5% Minoxidil experienced a 14.94 hairs/cm2 increase when compared to placebo .
This effectiveness is illustrated by Minoxidil before and after photos.
This medication has demonstrated good results in treating many types of alopecia (androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, traction alopecia, chemotherapy hair loss and telogen effluvium)  .
Unlike other hair growth medications, such as Finasteride, Minoxidil can be safely prescribed to both men and women. However, you should always ask a dermatologist or hair specialist before starting a Minoxidil treatment, to be sure that it is a good option for you.
Minoxidil works by opening up the blood vessels in your scalp and thus increasing the amount of nutrients reaching your hair follicles .
In order to get the best results from this treatment, it is important to know how to apply Minoxidil, especially the topical variety. You need to use the solution on the exposed problematic areas of your scalp and gently massage it in twice a day, mornings and evenings (female users are advised to only apply Minoxidil once a day, as Minoxidil for women can have additional side effects than for men).
It is not only possible to use a derma roller with Minoxidil, it can even enhance your results. Science shows that combining these two therapies yields superior effects than using either one of them on its own.
A study was performed on 100 people experiencing mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia (stages 3-4 on the Norwood scale). Half of them were treated only with Minoxidil 5% topical lotion, while the other half also received weekly derma rolling sessions. After 12 weeks, 82% of the group which had benefited from both therapies combined showed more than 50% hair growth improvement, compared to only 4.5% of those who had received Minoxidil alone .
A different clinical trial selected 50 patients with male pattern baldness and divided them into 2 groups. The first group was treated with 5% topical Minoxidil alone, while the second also received monthly micro-needling sessions and platelet-rich plasma. After 6 months, 92% of the patients who received the combined therapies were assessed to have achieved moderate or excellent improvement, compared to 48% of those who had only been treated with Minoxidil .
These results were supported by a meta-analysis of 8 randomised control trials, with a total number of 466 patients with androgenetic alopecia. All of the included studies revealed a significant increase in hair count in those who were treated with both Minoxidil and a derma roller .
It is recommended to use a topical solution of Minoxidil (as opposed to the oral variety) alongside derma rolling, in order to reap its full benefits. That is because the main mechanism which makes these two therapies more effective when combined is that the pinpoint holes left by micro-needling in the scalp increase topical substance absorption .
However, while therapies with Minoxidil and derma roller can be combined, that does not mean that both treatments should be applied at the same time. Topical Minoxidil should only be used on the scalp 24 hours after the micro-needling session, in order to avoid adverse side effects, such as scalp irritation .
Here are the main steps that should be followed when combining Minoxidil and derma roller:
While neither option is essentially incorrect, it is most common to derma roll before using Minoxidil. That is because the derma roller creates tiny puncture wounds in the scalp, which help increase the absorption of topical medication. That allows the Minoxidil to get in your bloodstream faster and in larger quantities, enhancing its effect.
Both Minoxidil and derma rolling have demonstrated good results in promoting hair growth, but there have been few studies comparing their efficacy. The clinical trials which did look into this matter found indications that micro-needling is more effective than Minoxidil. But using them together still seems to bring about the best results:
A 2021 meta-analysis of 9 controlled studies that investigated the efficacy of Minoxidil, micro-needling and/or a combination of these therapies revealed that derma rolling significantly increases hair count by 12.3 hairs/cm2 more than Minoxidil use. However, combining the two treatments results in an additional 7.6 hairs/cm2 than micro-needling alone .
There isn’t sufficient research at this time performed on the effects of derma rolling on facial hair, so it is hard to say whether beard rollers work for beard growth. However, some positive results of Minoxidil for beard growth are documented in scientific literature .
Given the fact micro-needling is believed to primarily enhance the effect of Minoxidil by improving its absorption through your scalp, it may behave in a similar way when it comes to helping the topical solution penetrate your facial skin more easily.
It is thus possible to use a derma roller with Minoxidil for your facial hair and you might see some results, but there is currently no scientific evidence to document this.
There is no need to use Minoxidil together with the derma roller any more frequently than you would normally use either of these therapies separately.
That means that you would be using the topical medication on your scalp twice a day if you are a man, or only once if you are a woman. Just remember to take a 24-hour break after you have used a derma roller, to avoid scalp irritation or inflammation.
As for the micro-needling, a single session a week should suffice. This should generally not be exceeded, because using it too frequently can lead to the creation of scar tissue, which may prevent your hair from growing in the affected area. This could significantly decrease the effectiveness of most hair growth therapies (however, you might still be a good candidate for hair transplant on scar tissue).
Research shows that combined Minoxidil and derma rolling therapy is largely safe and well tolerated . The side effects of using Minoxidil together with derma rolling are mostly a cumulation of the adverse effects of each of these therapies.
The most common side effects of topical Minoxidil use include:
The most frequently encountered side effects of micro-needling include:
However, combining these two therapies could increase the frequency or intensity of some of these symptoms (e.g. irritation, itchiness, discomfort) if the 24-hour window in which Minoxidil should not be applied after derma rolling is not respected.
Remember to always consult a trichologist before administering any medication, to make sure that it is suitable for your specific condition.
Derma rolling can be a bit daunting, especially if you are not fond of needles. But the good news is that there are other therapies you can use together with Minoxidil, for enhanced effect.
Minoxidil combined with Finasteride is a very common and effective option, but only generally recommended for men or post-menopausal women (because if premenopausal women use Finasteride, they could experience hormonal imbalances or foetal malformations).
It has been shown to produce superior hair growth outcomes than each individual therapy. Studies reveal that Finasteride results are significantly enhanced when used alongside Minoxidil .
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a minimally invasive procedure which involves extracting a small quantity of your blood, separating the platelets and re-injecting them into your scalp, to provide hair follicles with extra nutrients. While additional research into this topic is required, some studies reveal that using it together with Minoxidil enhances its effect .
Administering oral Vitamin D alongside Minoxidil has been found to slightly improve its effect, especially in patients with female pattern hair loss. .
Not all kinds of hair loss can be successfully treated with Minoxidil and derma rolling. That is why understanding the reason your hair is falling out is very important.
Sometimes, this happens due to common scalp problems which resolve once specific treatment is administered. But at other times, it can be due to more serious causes, such as advanced-stage male/female pattern baldness or scarring alopecia which has permanently damaged your hair follicles.
Regardless of the nature of your hair loss, it is very important to get it diagnosed sooner rather than later, as it could prevent further aggravation of your problem (and thus, greater difficulties in treating it).
If you are diagnosed with a condition that does not respond to Minoxidil and derma roller treatment, don’t despair. You might be a good candidate for a hair transplant.
Modern advancements in the techniques and instruments used to perform this procedure have led to a completely natural-looking end result, to the point where you can get a hair transplant without anyone knowing.
The procedure itself is safe and well-tolerated and the best hair transplant clinics offer a 97-100% success rate. As for the end results, they can easily be seen in the before and after hair transplant photos.
While it is true that hair transplant costs can exceed that of other therapies, you should keep in mind that while they offer temporary hair growth, a hair transplant is permanent.
Book a hair transplant consultation today at your most convenient clinic location and find out from one of our world-renowned surgeons whether this would be the best option to solve your hair problems.
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