Skin microneedling for acne scars associated with pigmentation in patients with dark skin

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Jun;17(3):390-395. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12520. Epub 2018 Mar 15.


Background: Acne is very common skin condition. Most patients with acne will have a degree of scarring as a result of their acne. In patients with darker skin color the scarring can be further complicated by hyperpigmentation. Several treatment options can be used to improve acne scarring, however the problem of post acne hyperpigmentation is not often addressed. This study especially focus on the treatment of pigmented post acne scarring using skin microneedling.

Aims: The primary objective is to assess the improvement of pigmentation of acne scarring in patients with dark skin using microneedling. Secondary objectives include evaluation of post acne scarring improvement and the safety of microneedling in pigmented skin.

Materials & methods: 39 Patients with darker skin colors (types 3, 4 and 5) completed study. Baseline evaluation for both acne scars and pigmentation scores performed using "post acne hyperpigmentation index" (PAHPI) and Goodman-Baron scales (GB scale). Microneedling treatment done and subsequently patients reviewed at 2 weeks for initial assessment and then after at least 4 weeks from date of initial assessment using same scoring methods for both scars and pigmentation. Baseline photographs were taken and again at final assessment.

Results: Both PAHPI and Goodman-Baron scales showed statistically significant improvement from baseline following microneedling treatment. Side effects were minor and of transient nature. None of our patients showed worsening of pigmentation.

Conclusion: Microneedling is an effective treatment for both acne scars and associated pigmentation in patients with dark skin color. The treatment appears to be safe apart from transient redness, mild dryness, and small hematomas, however additional treatments may be needed in some patients to achieve more improvement in pigmentation.

Keywords: acne scarring; darker skin; hyperpigmentation; microneedling.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Cicatrix / therapy*
  • Cosmetic Techniques* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / etiology
  • Hyperpigmentation / therapy*
  • Male
  • Needles / adverse effects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Pigmentation
  • Young Adult