Microneedling is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that stimulates your blood circulation. It’s typically done to improve the appearance of scars and increase collagen production.

Microneedling in a clinical environment takes several hours for preparation and the procedure.

Something that isn’t often discussed is the aftercare necessary after the procedure. Microneedling actually punctures your skin, so you need to take steps to protect your skin barrier as it heals.

Even if you’re microneedling at home, you’ll still need to take extra care of your skin in the days after performing the treatment.

Keep reading to learn more about what to expect after microneedling and how to take care of your skin afterward.

The main benefit of microneedling is it improves skin texture. It does this by stimulating collagen, which is great for rejuvenating the skin. As a result, it can help improve a number of key skin concerns.

Microneedling can help:

  • soften fine lines
  • fade acne scars
  • tackle ultraviolet (UV) damage, like hyperpigmentation and age spots
  • shrink pores
  • brighten skin
  • reduce the appearance of stretch marks

After you have a microneedling procedure, some side effects are to be expected.

When you leave your appointment, your skin may be flushed or bright red, as if you have spent the entire day out in the sun and have a mild to moderate sunburn.

The redness that you experience from microneedling will mostly fade within 48 hours. Other symptoms, such as peeling and breakouts, might take slightly longer to resolve.

Most of the visible recovery from microneedling happens in the first day or two after treatment, but healing will still be happening under the surface of your skin for up to 2 months afterward.

Even with careful aftercare, there isn’t much you can do to get rid of the redness immediately after microneedling.

Swelling is typical up to 48 hours after the procedure. Flaking or peeling after microneedling is also relatively common.

Other side effects, like bumps, breakouts, and dry skin, are also common after microneedling — but not everyone will experience them.

Taking care of your skin with moisturizer and gentle cleansers can minimize side effects.

Luckily, the expected post-microneedling downtime is relatively short compared with some other cosmetic procedures.

Your doctor should provide detailed instructions on what to do after microneedling. The instructions may be based specifically on your medical history or skin type, so follow them carefully.

Sun protection

As a general rule, you should reach for sunscreen constantly for the first 2 weeks after microneedling. Make sure to apply sunscreen whenever you go outside in the days following your treatment.

Don’t spend prolonged time out in the sun for the first week after your microneedling procedure, as you’ll be more prone to sun damage than usual.

Avoid infection

Use any topical antibiotic cream that your doctor prescribes to avoid infection.

Wash your hands before you touch your face.

Don’t put on makeup, especially with a makeup brush that has been used before, in the 24 hours following microneedling.

To protect your skin, you’ll also need to avoid swimming pools, saunas, and situations where you might sweat heavily, including intense workouts at the gym.

After 72 hours have passed, you may be able to resume these activities.

For the first few days after your microneedling procedure, there are a few things to be aware of.

Avoid exfoliants, retinols, and vitamin C

Avoid any skin care product that contains harsh chemicals meant to exfoliate. Avoid anything that’s scented, and don’t use glycolic acid or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).

Retinol and vitamin C serum should be avoided for at least the first 48 hours after microneedling.

Once 2 full days have passed, you might want to gradually add products back into your daily beauty routine instead of doing your usual regimen, especially if you use products that have strong anti-aging formulas.

Cleanser and moisturizer options

Run any cleansers, toners, or scrubs that you plan to use in the 2 to 3 days after microneedling by your dermatologist to make sure the ingredients won’t worsen side effects.

Hyaluronic acid can be used following microneedling, and it’s even recommended in some cases to help stimulate collagen production after your procedure.

If your skin feels dry, it’s generally safe to apply coconut oil as an emollient to lock in moisture and hydrate your face after microneedling.

Diluted, alcohol-free witch hazel may also be used to cleanse dry skin.

It’s best to stick to using gentle, natural ingredients that you’re familiar with.

Covering up the redness with makeup is one of the worst things you can do, as the makeup will block the pores on your newly exposed skin and might even cause breakouts.

You’ll need to have some patience as the redness subsides, but in the meantime, you can apply gentle, unscented products with natural ingredients to get some relief.

Ideally, you should wait at least 48 hours after microneedling before you wear makeup. This gives the skin time to heal.

Microneedling is generally considered to be a low risk procedure. Occasionally, side effects can escalate and require medical attention.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • fever over 100.4°F (38°C)
  • nausea
  • hives
  • yellow or green discharge
  • bleeding
  • headache

Infections caused by microneedling do happen, often when instruments that aren’t properly sterilized are used on your skin. Allergic reaction to the needles used for microneedling is also possible.

Taking care of your skin after microneedling can make a huge difference in the outcome of your treatment. Not only will proper aftercare soothe your symptoms, but you’ll also be protecting your skin from damage as it heals.

Follow any instructions from your healthcare professional as closely as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions before and after your appointment.