Testing The Hype

I Tried Microneedling, & My Dark Under-Eye Circles Have Never Looked Better 

Pricey? Yes. Worth it for me not to hear “You look tired” all the time? Also yes.

A woman looks at her undereye area.
AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

On my neverending list of pet peeves, people using the phrase “You look tired” are up towards the top. As someone with genetic dark circles under my eyes, it’s grating (to say the least) to have to explain to people over and over again that, no, it’s not my lack of sleep that makes me look like this. While well-meaning, that loaded statement is one that no amount of concealer can totally put to rest. So, I decided to do something about it. After getting a facial at a local spa, I decided to ask the team about treatment options for dealing with dark circles. That’s how I stumbled across microneedling.

While the name makes it sound a little daunting, the aesthetic procedure is actually a rather popular one, providing a brightened experience with very little downtime. And after getting it done, I can fully say I understand the hype behind it.

Microneedling 101

Microneedling is a procedure that involves creating controlled “micro-injuries” on your skin with the SkinPen, which is an FDA-cleared device. The process is intended to trigger your body’s natural response to heal wounds, which helps to regenerate new collagen and elastin. Basically, it will help to improve the look of texture in your skin, making it ideal for treating scars, large pores, wrinkles, and stretch marks.

While you can choose to have microneedling done just once, most spots recommend undergoing the procedure three to five times over four to six weeks, depending on what you are trying to treat.

Microneedling With PRP

To supplement microneedling, you can also choose microneedling with PRP or platelet-rich plasma. For this, you’ll have a licensed professional (in my case, a registered nurse) take a small blood sample. The test tube gets placed in a machine called a centrifuge, which separates your blood into layers. The separated PRP is then put on your skin post-microneedling, not unlike a serum.

The substance contains concentrated growth factors that help to speed your skin’s natural repair process, making it a powerful supplement to go along with the process.

The Microneedling Process

First and foremost, you’ll want to consult with your esthetician, dermatologist, or licensed professional before booking your microneedling appointment. They can help determine the best course of action for your specific skin concerns, as well as take you through the expected process.

Prior to microneedling, you will have numbing cream topically applied to any area where you will have the procedure performed. If you are getting a supplement of PRP, this is the point where you’ll have a small blood sample drawn, with the test tube taking 10 to 15 minutes in the centrifuge.

Once you’re nice and numb, the microneedling process will begin. The professional will run the SkinPen over any of the discussed areas for one or two passes, depending on your area of focus. After that, they’ll either apply the PRP or a serum.

You can expect redness over the next 24 hours, with discomfort on the level of a sunburn. For 24 to 48 hours, your skin may look red and feel tight, potentially even flaking. This will substantially subside within three to four days after the procedure, with results beginning to show over the next few weeks.

Cost of Microneedling

Microneedling costs vary depending on where you live and how often you plan to get it done. In my area, a full face of regular microneedling costs $400 for one session or $1,080 if you buy a package of three. Doing PRP adds to that cost, with full face starting at $650 for one session or $1,755 for a package of three.

At-Home Versus In-Office

While there are options for microneedling at home, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends against using them for a few reasons. For one, all at-home devices are substantially shorter and less powerful than any in-office devices, meaning they won’t reach the necessary deeper levels of the skin.

The AAD also warns against at-home devices for potential damage to the skin or risk of infection and scarring if the product pierces the skin.

My Experience With Microneedling

When I chose to do microneedling, I hoped to help the appearance of my dark circles. I have hereditary dark circles that no topical treatment has ever helped. So, when I heard microneedling was approved for use around the delicate eye area, I admit I was intrigued.

I chose to try microneedling with PRP because if I was going to do it, I wanted to go all in. I worked with Danielle, an aesthetic nurse at Modern Aesthetics Spa. She started off by putting numbing cream all over my face before taking a small blood sample for the PRP. I’ll fully admit I am a ~wimp~ when it comes to needles, but the process was genuinely quick and simple.

Once I was fully numbed and the PRP was ready, Danielle laid me back and got to work. The SkinPen sounds absolutely horrifying before touching your face, but believe me when I say that the noise is far more dramatic than what you’ll actually feel. In my case, it just felt like vibrating pressure on my face (and Danielle was great at checking in to ensure I couldn’t feel anything throughout).

After the microneedling, the PRP was put all over my face. It’s colorless and dried down fairly fast, which was good because you’re supposed to leave it on for several hours after the fact. While I felt nothing more than a light sunburn-feeling afterward, I did look very red over the next 24 hours (I’m certain my daughter’s teachers had some questions when I showed up looking like this to pick her up). Luckily, that went away over the next few days, so it was pretty low maintenance to heal up from.

Immediately post microneedling

Within a week, my skin felt so soft and definitely looked a little brighter. Nothing drastic, but it was enough that I felt a noticeable difference when I touched my skin. It wasn’t until I saw the before and after pictures six weeks later that I saw a noticeable brightening of my skin — especially my dark circles. While they’re far from gone, I feel like I look overall less tired, and I can see a definite difference in my complexion.

Six weeks after my first round of microneedling

I was impressed enough with the first go around that I’ve just gone and done a second. While I don’t think this will be something I do frequently after this next application, I am excited to see the results from two rounds, and I can honestly say I’m impressed with the procedure as a whole. And while it’s pricey, for me, not having to deal with the constant “You look tired!” from well-meaning strangers is well worth the cost.