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Microneedling for Hair Loss: How It Works, Effectiveness & More

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 11/29/2020

Updated 01/16/2024

Hair loss in men may be common, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with. Whether your hairline is starting to thin or you have the beginnings of a bald patch, even the slightest hint that baldness is coming can easily send many men into a panic.

A quick Google search reveals all sorts of options for reducing and reversing thinning hair, from over-the-counter treatments like topical minoxidil to surgical procedures such as hair transplant surgery. 

There are also lots of treatments that appear to be either all or partly hype, from lotions, serums and hair care products to vitamins and laser devices.

One option gaining plenty of attention is hair loss microneedling — a process that involves making small punctures in your scalp to stimulate your hair follicles and promote increased hair regrowth.

If you’ve ever read about dermarollers and microneedling devices for hair loss, you might be quick to lump them into the many other questionable treatment products and fads. However, there’s actually a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest that they could aid in hair growth.

Below, we’ve explained why and how hair loss happens, as well as how microneedling works as a hair loss treatment option.

What Is Microneedling for Hair Loss?

Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure that involves using a dermaroller — a small rolling device with fine microneedles on its surface — to produce small punctures in your scalp or other areas of your skin.

A typical dermaroller used in the microneedling process contains about 200 tiny needles around 1.5mm long. These needles penetrate into your skin, but only to the outer layers of your scalp.

It’s thought that the mild physical trauma from having a needle penetrate into your skin leads to a cascade of wound healing effects. This increases collagen production and can result in improvements in your skin health and, potentially, hair growth.

Experts also think microneedling hair may stimulate and reactivate hair follicles for new hair growth.

In addition to microneedling for hair loss, this type of treatment is also used for a diverse range of other conditions and skin issues like acne, scarring, wrinkles and other signs of aging.

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How Microneedling Works

Microneedling with a dermaroller involves rolling the tool across certain areas of your skin while maintaining firm, consistent pressure. 

For treating hair loss, this means using the dermaroller on areas with a visible reduction in hair count, such as a receding hairline or bald spots.

The purpose of microneedling in the case of hair loss is to stimulate growth factors in dermal papilla, or the stem cells in your hair follicles, to encourage them to activate and start to grow more hair.

Like we mentioned, the main idea behind this is that by producing tiny wounds, your body’s natural defenses may step in to encourage the healing process. For hair loss, the hope is that the healing process will ultimately activate dormant hair follicles, resulting in a thicker head of hair.

Why we don’t know exactly how hair microneedling works, this most likely method comes from knowledge about how hair loss in men works.

A large variety of issues can cause or contribute to hair loss. In men, the most common form of hair loss is male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, which is caused by a mix of genetic factors and the effects of the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This type of hair loss can also happen to women — in these cases it’s called female pattern hair loss.

If you’re genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness — also called androgenic alopecia — DHT can attach to receptors in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to gradually stop working.

Currently, the most effective hair loss treatments work by either preventing your body from creating DHT or stimulating hair growth at the scalp level, usually with topical treatments.

For example, the medication finasteride works by reducing the amount of testosterone that your body converts to DHT.

Meanwhile, topical minoxidil is believed to work by moving your hair follicles into a state of active, ongoing growth (as part of the hair growth cycle), although its exact mechanism of action is still unknown.

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Does Microneedling for Hair Loss Work?

While microneedling isn’t a completely new technology, its use for treating hair loss is fairly recent. But is microneedling for hair growth real?

As we mentioned above, scalp microneedling for hair growth is thought to be effective for male pattern baldness and alopecia areata, a type of hair loss caused by the immune system attacking your hair follicles.

A 12-week 2013 randomized study of 100 men in Mumbai was the first to examine the hair growth results of microneedling in humans.

Half of the participants were given topical minoxidil and the other half underwent microneedling procedures once per week, in addition to twice-daily treatment with minoxidil.

According to the researchers, participants who used a dermaroller with minoxidil grew thicker hair and reported higher overall patient satisfaction. Eight months after the study, the participants still showed positive results.

Another smaller study looked at four men who had been using finasteride and minoxidil for two to five years with no new hair growth.

The men started microneedling scalp treatments in addition to their finasteride and minoxidil treatments and showed accelerated results over six months.

However, there’s little research on microneedling as a monotherapy (single treatment) for hair loss, since most studies combined it with other therapies such as topical minoxidil or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

It’s also possible that microneedling may help for some hair loss disorders, but not for all causes of hair loss in men. 

In other words, the usual disclaimers for early-stage hair loss treatments definitely apply when it comes to microneedling — namely, that we need more high-quality information before we’re able to authoritatively state that it’s an effective treatment for hair loss.

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Is Microneedling for Hair Loss Worth It?

Can microneedling your scalp really be the silver bullet when it comes to growing back a full head of hair, or is this treatment too good to be true? The jury is still out, but here’s what we know:

  • Scalp microneedling is widely known as a skincare treatment with real benefits for acne scarring and sun damage, and it’s also thought to encourage hair regrowth in those with male pattern baldness.

  • By creating tiny wounds, researchers think microneedling speeds up the healing process and stimulates hair follicles, allowing hair to grow.

  • While studies on microneedling for hair loss are promising, most use microneedling in conjunction with minoxidil or finasteride, two hair loss treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But if you’re starting to develop a receding hairline, a bald patch around your crown or other common signs of hair loss, you have plenty of treatment options.

Hairline restoration surgery, which involves moving hair follicles from another part of your body to your head, is one option for those with a receding hairline. Or you can opt for a natural looking hair tattoo to help bolster the appearance of your hair.

While those treatments are effective, you’ll most likely go for the science-backed treatments of minoxidil and finasteride. You can apply minoxidil either as a minoxidil foam or a liquid minoxidil solution, and while finasteride is often taken as an oral medication, there’s also a combination topical finasteride & minoxidil spray for a two-in-one treatment.

We offer both of these medications as part of our range of hair loss treatments, with finasteride available following a consultation with a healthcare provider.

10 Sources

  1. Gupta, A.K., Quinlan, E.M., Venkataraman, M., Bamimore, M.A. (2022). Microneedling for Hair Loss. J Cosmet Dermatol. 21: 108–117. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jocd.14525
  2. Singh, A., & Yadav, S. (2016). Microneedling: Advances and widening horizons. Indian dermatology online journal, 7(4), 244–254. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976400/
  3. Iriarte, C., Awosika, O., Rengifo-Pardo, M., & Ehrlich, A. (2017). Review of applications of microneedling in dermatology. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 10, 289–298. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556180/
  4. Dhurat, R., Sukesh, M., Avhad, G., Dandale, A., Pal, A., & Pund, P. (2013). A randomized evaluator blinded study of effect of microneedling in androgenetic alopecia: a pilot study. International journal of trichology, 5(1), 6–11. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746236/
  5. Ho, C.H., Sood, T., Zito, P.M. Androgenetic Alopecia. [Updated 2022 Oct 16]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/
  6. Asfour, L., Cranwell, W., Sinclair, R. Male Androgenetic Alopecia. [Updated 2023 Jan 25]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/
  7. Hair loss: Diagnosis and treatment. (2022, December 13). American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/diagnosis-treat
  8. Zito, P.M., Bistas, K.G., Syed, K. Finasteride. [Updated 2022 Aug 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/
  9. Patel, P., Nessel, T.A., Kumar, D. D. Minoxidil. [Updated 2023 Nov 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  10. Dhurat, R., & Mathapati, S. (2015). Response to Microneedling Treatment in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia Who Failed to Respond to Conventional Therapy. Indian journal of dermatology, 60(3), 260–263. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458936/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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