If you’ve had microneedling, you’ve probably been told that you shouldn’t workout afterwards – but do you know why that is, how long to avoid exercise after microneedling and what might happen if you do head off to the gym before you should? That’s what this post aims to answer.
We asked two leading cosmetic experts is it okay to exercise after microneedling – and got their top tips and best advice to protect your skin and maximise your results.
What is Microneedling?
‘Microneedling is a process where the skin is put under controlled trauma to kick start the body’s natural healing process,’ explains Dr Yalda Jamali, a medical doctor specialising in aesthetic medicine and founder of the Dr Yalda Clinics in Nottingham, Manchester and Leeds.
‘Small punctures to the skin are made using a device containing many small needles. As the needles touch the middle layer of the skin called the dermis, the blood flow to the area is increased, improving overall skin nutrition.
Microneedling also improves the skin cell turnover by boosting collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid production. This encourages skin renewal resulting in brighter and smoother skin.
Microneedling has many benefits; it is the perfect all-round treatment for reducing: acne scarring, stretch marks, surgical scarring, open pores, fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, sun damage and a dull complexion..’
The process, which is also known as collagen induction therapy, can be done alone, or in conjunction with the application of serums or other skin nutrients. It’s not quite the same as mesotherapy which actually injects vitanins and other skin nutrients under the skin – although much of the advice in this piece about when to exercise can also apply to mesotherapy too.
Results will vary depending on your skin type and the skill of your ‘needler’ but in one US trial looking at the effects of microneedling in skin aging, a 23 per cent reduction in the look of fine lines and wrinkles (according to a measure called the Lemperle Grading Scale) was seen after four treatments over four months. Measures of skin laxity and skin texture also improved.
Is Microneedling the Same as Dermaroller?
Not quite. ‘Microneedling is an umbrella term used for the micro-injuries that are created during this procedure. It can either be performed using a dermaroller or, for more accuracy and precision, a clinical needling device. The needling device is a safer and more comfortable option. The device also allows the practitioner to control the depth of the injury for noticeably better end results,’ says Dr Yalda.
Our second expert, Dr Sophie Shotter, an aesthetics specialist, member of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine and Medical Director of Illuminate Skin Clinics agrees saying. ‘A dermaroller is a brand of micro needling, and these were the first devices that came to market.
However, I personally choose not to use rollers in my current practice for a few reasons. The most important one is that a roller has needles of just one depth, which limits us to treating you at that one depth all over your face. If you feel your forehead it is far less fleshy than your cheek, and so is ideally treated at a more superficial depth than the plumper areas.
I also personally find that dermarollers are more uncomfortable for patients than the newer pen-type devices.
Microneedling pens are automated and drive the tiny needles into the skin many times per second at the depth you program the device to. It allows for a comfortable treatment which is easier to tailor to the individual face.’
Why Can’t You Exercise After Microneedling?
”If you exercise post-procedure, you’re going to increase your body temperature and increase your blood flow to the recently treated areas,’ says Dr Shotter. ‘This can increase the risk of swelling and discomfort post-procedure, and in occasional situations even lead to bruising.
Sweating after microneedling can also irritate the skin when it’s still a little compromised afterwards, leading to more discomfort. I normally suggest leaving at least 48 hours between your microneedling treatment and a workout – and if if you’ve had a deeper treatment, you may even need to leave it slightly longer before returning to your exercise routine.’
Dr Yalda adds. ‘Avoiding sweating will also decrease the risk of infection following treatment. I suggest that avoiding exercise for 72 hours following the treatment is ideal. That’s enough time to allow the small tiny holes to heal up and for the swelling to start reducing.’
Any Extra Rules for Cardio After Microneedling?
‘Again, it depends how deep the treatment you have had has gone into the skin,’ says Dr Shotter. ‘For a more superficial treatment 48 hours is plenty. But if your technician has worked at deeper levels then it may even be a week before you will want to feel hot and sweaty.’
When Can You Swim After Microneedling?
‘Swimming should be avoided for a week. Chlorine in the water can aggravate the already irritated skin following needling,’ says Dr Yalda.
On top of this, whenever the skin is broken there can be a risk of infection if water isn’t properly chlorinated. You may not be able to see or feel the tiny holes that microneedling causes in the skin after your treatment, but they are there and while they do close pretty quickly (some estimates say within 60- 90 minutes) it’s best to wait long enough for the healing process to progress a bit further.
You should also avoid hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms for at least 48 hours after your treatment.
What about Yoga or Pilates?
‘Hot yoga in particular can be an issue, as the increased heat and body temperature can make the treated area stingy and uncomfortable,’ says Dr Shotter. ‘I would also avoid inversions during other types of yoga, for the same reasons as outlined above – the increased blood flow can increase swelling and bruising.’
If you’re just doing gentle yoga or Pilates though you should be okay to start back the next day.
If you do head out to a class or studio that soon though, remember the skin can look kind of like it’s sunburned for a few days after treatment. Don’t try and hide any redness that you might be experiencing, you shouldn’t put anything on the treated skin for at least 24 hours after a microneedling treatment.
What About Home Dermaroller?
It is possible to use dermaroller type devices to use on the skin at home. These should have smaller needles than devices used by professionals and so don’t damage the skin in the same way. ‘It is safe to use a device up to 0.25mm at home,’ says Dr Shotter. ‘This is extremely superficial and will aid the penetration of products, without causing significant compromise of the epidermis.’
Now, if the treatment is less damaging to the skin you might wonder what that means for your gym session? Can you work out after dermaroller at home? ‘I would still avoid immediate exercise after using a dermaroller at home or too soon before you use the device, but if you’ve exercised in the morning and are using a device at home in the evening that would be fine. Don’t overdo the derma rolling at home though. 2-3 times per week is plenty.’
You might find professional-length dermarollers sold online and be tempted to get one for home use but don’t do it. ‘Incorrect technique can permanently damage your skin, leaving scarring and hyperpigmentation. You are also less likely to be able to adhere to a sterile standard at home and this can increase your risk of a skin infection following treatment,’ says Dr Yalda. ‘Always book your microneedling session with an experienced skin specialist. Only sterile, single use, approved devices should be used. A course of 3-6 treatments spaces 4 weeks apart will give the best results.’
Can You Exercise Before Your Microneedling Session?
‘I wouldn’t recommend exercising straight before coming to a clinic for microneedling. You will be red in the face, and the increased blood flow will make swelling and bruising more likely. But if you’ve exercised a few hours before then that wouldn’t pose a problem,’ says Dr Shotter.
Also watch out if you usually exercise outside and it’s been hot in the days before your session – or, if you’ve got a race or other event planned somewhere warm after your session as sun exposure and microneedling don’t mix.
The reason for this is that UV exposure too close to microneedling can cause the development of pigmentation patches on the treated area. If you regularly workout outside, make sure you’re protecting your skin well with sunscreen (but you should really be doing that any way).
‘You also can’t have a treatment if you have recently been on a sunny holiday. We advise you to wait three weeks after your holiday. You also can’t have a microneedling treatment if you think you will be exposed to high levels of UV (for example going on holiday) in the couple of weeks after your session,’ says Dr Yalda.
Protecting Your Skin After Microneedling
If you are an outdoor exerciser (or someone who likes the sun), ‘Using sunscreen following microneedling is an absolute must,’ says Dr Yalda. ‘You must protect your skin from UV damage, and your skin is more susceptible to this following a skin treatment such as microneedling.’
However, she does caution that this doesn’t mean you should slap SPF on your skin in the hours post treatment ‘I don’t advise applying anything immediately after the treatment. This is because most sunscreens and other skincare products are not sterile and can cause an infection as they can penetrate your skin through the tiny holes just made. Protect against UV exposure on that day by wearing a hat and staying indoors.’
The same goes for anything to try and calm the redness that happens to the skin after a microneedling procedure. Both of our experts say that you should keep sunscreen, moisturiser, make-up and basically, anything else, away from the skin for the first 24 hours.
In the first few weeks after skin needling, you might want to also time your workouts to avoid the points in the day when UV is highest. Go first thing in the morning, or close to sundown (so long as it’s safe to do so where you live). Or, pick shadier routes rather than heading out into direct sunlight.
Anything Else ‘Healthy’ You Should Avoid When Microneedling.
‘You must not use fake tan on the area of treatment from 2 weeks before your treatment, throughout the course of treatment and two weeks after,’ says Dr Yalda.
‘Also, certain supplements like Vitamin E, Garlic and Omega 3 can thin the blood and make bruising more likely. So I would recommend stopping these a few days before your appointment,’ adds Dr Shotter.
There are a number of other rules about some medications and certain more aggressive skincare ingredients like retinols so, make sure you speak to whoever you choose to do your microneedling in advance of the appointment to make sure you know exactly what you should or shouldn’t be doing before your appointment. A good clinic will reschedule your appointment if there’s any risk to your skin.
So, there you have it the rules for exercise after dermaroller and microneedling – if you have any more questions, please drop them in the comments and we’ll see if we can get one of our experts to answer them for you.
You can also follow Dr Yalda on Instagram.