[Updated] The differences between mesotherapy and microneedling

The eternal quest for perfect skin has led many clients to go under the needle – skin needling, that is. Needling treatments can now be found on treatment menus in salons up and down the country, with therapists able to help clients achieve their skin goals through a basic principle of wound healing and regeneration. 

While dermal rollering is the most common form of microneedling, there are other options to look at before deciding which treatment to offer, and with mounting confusion over who can perform these treatments, it’s well worth doing your research. 

What are the differences between microneedling and mesotherapy?

Mesotherapy is a French treatment originally developed to inject medicine into subcutaneous fat, it is now widely used for skin rejuvenation, but is a different procedure to microneedling entirely.

“Both mesotherapy and microneedling involve needling techniques; however, they differ in terms of needle length, application, depth of penetration, speed of delivery and the skin conditions they treat,” says Violeta Negrea, general manager at clinic chain EF Medispa

“Mesotherapy combines a bespoke cocktail of powerful vitamins, which are injected into the lower layers of the skin using a meso device with one needle, whereas microneedling gently moves multiple microscopic needles over the face to cause miniscule puncture marks, activating the production of collagen and elastin,” she explains. 

Though needling treatments might sound scary to some, they’ve become star services for many therapists and cosmetic practitioners, owing to the impressive results they can achieve while remaining non-surgical. 

“Microneedling has become an integral part of my treatment algorithm over the past few years due to its efficacy, limited safety profile and significant clinical results,” says aesthetic doctor Fiona McCarthy, who practises from a clinic in Chelsea, London.

“Patients are not keen on prolonged downtime and seem to be shying away from more invasive procedures, so microneedling provides that perfect balance of minimal recovery time and visibly improved outcomes.”

While both microneedling and mesotherapy work by triggering a response in the lower layers of the skin, they’re each suited to different concerns, so you could choose which treatment to invest in depending on the most common indications among your clients.

Advanced skincare group Therapié Clinic, which has more than 30 sites nationwide, has both procedures on its menu because of the wide range of client concerns that can be addressed on both the face and body by offering the two.

Mesotherapy treatment

Which type of client suits mesotherapy?

According to Claire Williams, the founder of WOW Facial, which includes a needling phase within its seven-step treatment, mesotherapy is best suited to clients with the following skin concerns.

"Clients in their twenties, thirties and beyond who are seeking a little added glow and lustre to their skin will be most interested in mesotherapy," Williams adds. "It improves the health of the skin by adding nourishment and hydration back to your cells, which helps ensure that they stay healthy for longer, keeping your skin clear and fresh."

Mesotherapy is best-suited for skin issues that present from within the lower layers of the skin, such as dehydration and advanced ageing, because a targeted active solution is being injected as the needle is penetrating the skin.

“Mesotherapy is great for those who are suffering from dehydrated, dull, puffy or saggy skin, and those who want to tackle cellulite and stubborn, localised fat,” says Negrea. 

Mesotherapy can also be used to tackle superficial fat and cellulite on the body, with therapists able to inject solutions that help break down fat at around 4mm. 

Most therapists at Level 3 will generally needle to a maximum depth of 2mm with a mesotherapy gun, ideal to address more advanced skin ageing signs, such as volume loss, says Simone Shoffman, national training manager for Laser Clinics UK: “You can inject solutions that will stimulate a much faster response than microneedling would and you can deliver them deeper into the skin.” 

Many mesotherapy solutions have a hyaluronic acid base for this reason, infusing hydration for a plumping glow from deep within the skin.

Check out our guide to performing mesotherapy treatments

Which type of client suits microneedling?

The main purpose of microneedling is skin rejuvenation. The action of microneedling helps promote cell regeneration and exfoliation on a deeper level, which ensures that outer skin layers are replaced with new cells.

"Microneedling is particularly good for treating the textural changes associated with acne scarring," says Williams. She also reccomends the treatment for clients suffering the following concerns:

Why is microneedling better suited to treating stretchmarks and scarring on the body? McCarthy explains: “The controlled dermal wounding stimulates the wound healing cascade, resulting in the release of various growth factors to promote new collagen and elastin production, which are the building blocks of healthy skin.” 

Shoffman suggests offering microneedling to clients considering Botox or dermal fillers, either to get the skin in great condition beforehand and therefore support the effect of the injectable, or instead of, to show them how much better the face can look just by improving skin quality. “It’s also really good for scarring and stretchmarks on the body,” she adds.

Check out our ultimate guide to microneedling.

Microneedling treatment

How do I choose between microneedling and mesotherapy?

"When making the decisions between microneedling and mesotherapy for aesthetic treatment, it really comes down to the results your client is looking to achieve," says Williams. 

While mesotherapy can help skin cells be healthier, microneedling is more effective for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles overall, she explains. "This is because the needle action causes collagen and elastin production to increase, helping to smooth out facial lines and wrinkles, while also leveling the skin glowing."

For better skin texture – so those with dry, flaky, or rough and bumpy skin – both mesotherapy and microneedling can be effective.

For skin pigmentation issues, mesotherapy is also an ideal option. "The injections contain essential ingredients for long-term healthy skin that also help to remove sluggish toxins from the skin cells too. This can help to combat dark circles under the eye, as well dark or discoloured patches of skin that can be an unwanted issue," says Williams. 

Is microneedling or mesotherapy more comfortable?

Although mesotherapy is generally performed with a gun, it’s usually far more comfortable for clients than microneedling, even with a roller.

“Mesotherapy is much more tolerable for the client because everything is done quicker,” says Shoffman. “It’s one single needle going into the skin, whereas microneedling involves multiple needles at once – whether you’re using a roller or a pen device.” 

This means that topical anaesthetic is generally applied before microneedling but isn’t needed for mesotherapy, also indicating the amount of downtime clients can expect.

Negrea says that at EF Medispa, where a pen device is used for needling, “we use anaesthetic cream to minimise any pain. In terms of downtime, clients can experience mild-to-moderate redness, swelling, or skin sensitivity to touch for up to three days.

"With mesotherapy, no anaesthetic is required, and clients may experience a mild tingling sensation on the skin for up to 48 hours.” 

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