I see a lot of questions about the above terms.
“I’m interested in dermarolling but the only research I can find is about microneedling!”
“I want to do dermarolling for my scars but I can only find dermastamps in my needle length!”
“I just got a dermapen. Is that the same as a dermaroller or should I exchange it?”
Let’s break down these terms!
Microneedling is any time the skin is punctured by a needle to start a rejuvenating healing process. It doesn’t matter what tool you use or how long the needle is: if it’s a small needle into the skin to cause collagen regrowth, it’s microneedling. (In the research it’s often called ‘percutaneous collagen induction’. But they mean microneedling.)
That means that dermarolling, dermastamping, use of a dermapen, and even single-needling are all different types of microneedling.
If you look at the peer-reviewed research about this process, it’s almost always called microneedling! That’s because the results are going to be more or less the same regardless of how the needles enter the skin. Scientific research won’t compare dermarolling vs. dermastamping because the skin’s mechanism is the same. For us as individuals, there might be benefits to choosing a roller, a stamper or a pen for our individual cases, but the entire body of research on the process doesn’t really differentiate. For that reason, if you read research on microneedling (either in a database or in my Breaking Down the Research series), you can feel confident that the research applies to you whether you choose dermarolling, dermastamping or a dermapen.
Dermarolling is a type of microneedling, accomplished using a round (usually plastic) barrel with rows of needles. It is best for medium- or large-sized areas of treatment on the face or body–you can use it on areas as small as your chin or as large as your belly. Because it rolls, you can do these large areas pretty efficiently. A standard-sized roller will have 8 rows of needles, but you can get rollers that have as many as 20 rows or as few as one row. Dermarollers are best for treating large areas of acne scars, general anti-aging, and treating wrinkles and fine lines all over the face. If you are interested in hair regrowth for a full beard or head, you’ll probably prefer a dermaroller as well to help you cover the full area.
If you’re here just checking out DIY microneedling, this probably what you’ve heard of! It’s a good multi-use tool for all but the most inconveniently-placed scars, and it’s a great first purchase if you’re just getting started.
A dermastamp is also a microneedling tool! Instead of a rolling plastic barrel, a dermastamp has a flat surface with anywhere between 10 and 35 needles sticking out of it, all pointing in the same direction. Rather than rolling a barrel across the skin, when you use a dermastamp you press the needles into the treatment area all at once. Because each press covers a small area (ranges from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a large postage stamp) dermstamping is best suited to small areas of treatment, especially scars or small areas of stretch marks. If you want to encourage hair or beard growth only in a few small areas, or if you’re trying to thicken or fill in your eyebrows, you might choose a dermastamp as well.
A dermapen is basically an automated dermastamp. Like the dermastamp, it’s multiple needles (anywhere between one and 12) that all reach the skin at the same time; unlike the dermastamp, it runs electronically to insert the needle, so rather than lifting the needles and pushing them into the skin yourself, you just hold and move the device and the needles enter and retract themselves. If you pay to have microneedling done in an office or medispa, this is what you’re likely to have. These devices range from the pricey office versions, which can cost thousands of dollars, to ones intended for home use that cost a couple of hundred dollars. Dermapens boast of less pain than manual needling and claim that it’s psychologically easier to hold the cartridge rather than push in the needles yourself. In general, a dermapen can be used any time you would use a dermastamp.
So, there you go: as you are navigating this website, knowing the difference between these terms will help you select the protocol that’s best for you!