From the Journals

Microneedling improved acne scars in small study of patients with darker skin



Microneedling treatment produced statistically significant improvements in pigmentation-associated acne scars in a study of patients with dark skin, and did not contribute to more pigmentation, the study authors reported.

Most patients were pleased with the results. “Microneedling is an effective and safe treatment for acne scars associated with pigmentation in dark-skinned patients, without adding any risk of causing worsening of pigmentation,” the study’s lead author, Firas Al Qarqaz, MD said in an interview.

The study was published online in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Dr. Al Qarqaz, of the department of dermatology, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan, pointed out that patients with darker skin and acne scars pose a unique challenge because some current treatments “can improve the scars but carry a risk of worsening the pigmentation and making skin/scars darker, which can be as troublesome to patients as their original scars.” Indeed, a review of microneedling as a treatment for dermatologic conditions in patients with darker skin noted that conventional resurfacing procedures can be limited in this patient population, because of concerns of adverse effects, including dyspigmentation (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 Feb;74[2]:348-55).

The situation is especially complex because “the current assessment methods for evaluating acne scars are not addressing clearly the important aspect of pigmentation that is associated with such scars, especially in darker skin, which can make objective assessment for improvement lacking,” Dr. Al Qarqaz noted.

He and a coauthor conducted the new study to determine whether microneedling can safely and effectively improve both acne scars and related hyperpigmentation in patients with darker skin. The study of 39 patients with postacne scarring comprised 31 women and 8 men aged 18-43 years (mean age, 27); their skin colors ranged from Fitzpatrick skin types type III to V. Most (27) were type IV.

The patients were treated with an electronic microneedling device and were evaluated at 2 weeks, and at least 4 weeks after their initial assessment (range, 4-14 weeks) for the final evaluation. The researchers found statistically significant improvement in two measures: The Postacne Hyperpigmentation Index improved from a mean score of 13 at baseline to a mean of 10 post procedure (P = .0035), and the Goodman-Baron acne scarring scale improved from a mean of 18 at baseline to a mean of 12 post procedure (P = .008).


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