Microneedling For Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is one of the hardest skin conditions to treat. Microneedling can be effective at treating hyperpigmentation beneath the skin’s surface, by tearing up the pigment from the deepest layers of the skin.  Cosmeticians and dermatologists worldwide regard microneedling for hyperpigmentation as a viable treatment given its remarkable ease, minimal downtime, and dismissable side effects.

In the article, we discuss the different types of hyperpigmentation and how microneedling targets the root of the issues.


  • A combination of topical treatments and microneedling is more effective than standalone topical therapy
  • Addresses the needs of all skin colors and tones across multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds
  • Consult dermatologist about session timelines and the intensity required to address your concerns

Table of Contents

What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation refers to dark patches or spots of skin that are unusually pigmented and darker than the actual skin complexion. People develop these dark spots and patches due to various causes, such as inflammation, aging-induced dark spots, excessive UV exposure, and hormonal imbalances.

The skin gets its color or complexion from melanin, a pigment produced by melanocytes that reside within our skin cells. Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin cells produce excess melanin, triggering a buildup that results in dark spots or patches.

How Does Microneedling Help Hyperpigmentation?

Microneedling helps hyperpigmentation as it increases the availability of skin lightening serums and restores wound-repairing skin cells.

Microneedling is a cosmetic technique that involves repeatedly pricking the skin with sterilized microneedles to inflict a controlled injury on the targeted skin area. Making tiny tears in the skin triggers the body’s built-in healing mechanism.

The skin’s natural response accelerates skin cell turnover and the production of collagen and elastin, allowing healthy and new skin cells to replace their dead and damaged counterparts. The skin begins to alter its tissue formation, undergoing a process of remodeling and rejuvenation.

Types Of Hyperpigmentation

The main types of hyperpigmentation:

  • Age Spots or Sun Damage (Specifically in lighter skin tones)
  • Melasma
  • Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (Acne, Burns, Trauma)
  • Dark Circles

Treating Sunspots with Microneedling

Solar lentigines, more commonly known as sunspots or liver spots, refer to brown patches that emerge on the skin after excessive sun exposure. Microneedling is an effective treatment for sunspots as it enhances the absorption of skin-lightening gels and serums.

Microneedling pierces the skin to allow skin lightening serums to penetrate the deepest, innermost layers of the skin – triggering a powerful and natural skin regeneration process.

As the body initiates the natural healing process, damaged layers of dark patches are replaced by healthy and new skin cells. The accelerated collagen and elastin production gives the skin a firmer, smoother, and youthful appearance.

Treating Melasma with Microneedling

Melasma is a skin pigment disorder that gives the skin a discolored appearance, usually in the form of brown or grayish-brown patches. This chronic skin disorder is one of the toughest skin conditions to treat as its symptoms trigger a vicious cycle of relapse and retreatment.

A small-scale study attempted to investigate the effects of microneedling on patients with melasma. The patients were 100% satisfied with the treatment’s results after only 2 sessions. The researchers concluded that microneedling used as a standalone treatment, without any topical medications, works as a highly effective skin-lightening solution for patients with melasma.

Microneedling for Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) refers to dark and highly pigmented scars triggered by skin infections, injuries, and acute conditions. For instance, hyperpigmented scars can emerge after a bout of acne or due to skin trauma, burns, and cuts. They typically form after the inflammation or injury has been treated and healed, marking the area with dark pigmentation.

Microneedling for Dark Circles

Periorbital or periocular hyperpigmentation refers to the horrid dark circles that emerge underneath the eyes. Most people believe this common skin qualm is a genetically-transmitted beauty qualm that simply “runs in the family,” but allergic reactions and fluid buildup can also trigger it.

Microneedling has emerged as a promising adjunct treatment to correct periorbital hyperpigmentation. A study achieved marked improvements by combining microneedling with chemical peels infused with trichloroacetic acid (TCA).

People looking to reduce hyperpigmentation under the eyes regard microneedling as a viable treatment because it increases collagen production, which reduces the sagginess by compensating for the lost volume.

Side Effects

Given the minimally invasive and controlled nature of this procedure, microneedling has very mild and dismissable side effects. It’s very rare for patients to exhibit any severe side effects after undergoing microneedling sessions. Although, overtreatment of the area can cause overproduction of the pigmented area.

The following side-effects are common: 

  • Skin peeling
  • Redness or erythema
  • Bruising where the microneedles have pricked
  • Dryness
  • Inflammation

Does Microneedling Worsen Hyperpigmentation?

There have been cases where patients have witnessed their hyperpigmentation worsening despite undergoing micro needling sessions. However, it is challenging to discern the exact cause behind the worsening hyperpigmentation as multiple factors are at play.

Several variables come into play when the skin undergoes microneedling, for instance, the skin tone and type determine the reaction to the treatment. Exposure to the sun, hormonal imbalances, and reactions to certain skin care products or scrubs can also cause hyperpigmentation to worsen.

In some cases, the inflammation worsens the hyperpigmentation, which is most commonly seen in people with darker skin, who have higher levels of skin pigmentation issues.

Alternative Treatments To Micro Needling Treatments

Patients with hyperpigmentation can explore multiple alternatives to skin needling, such as medicated skin-lightening lotions and serums, over-the-counter skin-brightening creams, and an array of professional-grade cosmetic treatments.

Here are some treatments that treat hyperpigmentation effectively:

  • Corticosteroids are often combined with primary therapies to improve results. They are also considered an effective post-treatment aid to reduce irritation and undermine the risk of relapse.
  • Patients can choose from light, medium, and deep-intensity chemical peel solutions to eliminate dark patches from deep within the epidermis.
  • Hydroquinone is a potent skin-lightening formula that prevents the skin cells from producing melanin.
  • Laser treatments are effective at boosting collagen production and altering the outer surface layers of the skin.
  • Microdermabrasion treats hyperpigmentation by gently exfoliating the outermost surface layer of the skin with a diamond-tipped handheld device. Experts can also perform microdermabrasion using a spray of crystals.
  • Experts also recommend retinol to diminish dark spots by preventing melanin synthesis and boosting skin cell turnover rates.

How To Treat Hyperpigmentation After Microneedling

Depending on the cause of hyperpigmentation will determine what measures to take to prevent it. Consult a dermatologist to find the best preventative measures, but below are some general tips on managing the issue.

  • Talk To Provider on how to balance hormones
  • SPF and protective clothing
  • Dont pick at acne or pimples

Final Tip

Microneedling is a viable and scientifically proven standalone treatment for hyperpigmentation, but it offers more effective results when combined with medicated topical agents. It’s common for experts to utilize microneedling as an adjuvant to boost the effectiveness of other pigment-lightening formulas and agents. The side effects are minor, but microneedling is not advisable for people who have an active chronic skin condition or a tendency for scaring easily. 


How Many Microneedling Sessions For Hyperpigmentation?

Most people undertake 3-6 microneedling sessions to see noticeable reductions in hyperpigmentation. Since microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure, patients need multiple sessions to address their issues and witness the results they desire. The specialist will decide how many sessions are required after examining the issue and its severity.

What Is The Recommended Microneedling Depth For Hyperpigmentation?

Use 0.5 mm to 1 mm is the general recommended needle length to treat hyperpigmentation. A dermatologist will need to assess the area to determine the cause and depth of the unique issue.