Microneedling For Melasma

Microneedling is an entry level treatment for melasma with a response rate of around 20-30%. The key to microneedling is using the correct needle depth in combination with appropriate pigment correctors. Microneedling can be performed using pens, roller or stamping devices. Learn more about how to safely perform microneedling at home.


0-4 days


40+ days

Treatment Time

10 minutes


SPF + pigment correctors

Dermatologist science score

The Science of Microneedling for Melasma

  • Microneedling is primarily used to increase the absorption of topical creams
  • Stamping devices are the safest & easiest to use
  • Lasers have less side effects, a quicker recovery & importantly deliver superior outcomes
  • Be careful not to microneedle beyond 0.2 mm as pigment can be harder to treat
  • Picosecond lasers are a more effective option for melasma
  • They also have the least amount of side effects

The aim of microneedling is to enhance the absorption of skin care pigment correctors such as tranexamic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide, & retinol. A stamping device will suffice for home use.

What results can I expect from microneedling?

In the context of melasma & pigmentation, not much. Microneedling is overhyped, however it is a useful treatment for fine lines, enlarged pores, scars & textural improvements. –

  • Pigment clearance (minimal at best)
  • Skin lightening & brightening (marginal if any)
  • Collagen remodeling
  • Reduces fine lines, wrinkles & enlarged pores


What is microneedling?

Microneedling is an entry level treatment for melasma that uses fine needles to break the upper layers of skin. This allows for more efficient absorption of skin care products such as arbutin, vitamin A, B, C & other pigment correctors.

Microneedling can be done in a clinical environment, or, with some knowledge & guidance, performed at home.


Does microneedling work for melasma?

The response rate ranges from 20 to 30%, depending on the depth of melasma & your chosen topical routine. In the context of microneedling for melasma, home treatments are equally as effective as in-clinic microneedling

How is this procedure performed?

Microneedling can be performed in a clinic, or as a DIY procedure at home. The difference is that in clinic microneedling is usually performed at a deeper needle depth (greater than 0.2 mm), whilst home microneedling is done at depths less than 0.2mm

How do I microneedle at home?

Microneedling can be safely performed at home as a DIY procedure. Here is how;

  • Photography your melasma at baseline. This will give you a reference point.
  • Clean your skin with an alcohol wipe, let dry for 60 seconds.
  • Use a stamper with a needle length of 0.2 mm or shorter. Goto eBay or Amazon.
  • Put firm pressure on treated areas, 3-5 passes.
  • Apply niacinamide or azelaic acid to the areas treated.
  • Repeat every 7 to 14 days. It is as easy as that.

If you have trouble shifting melasma at home, book a consultation with our team at The Melasma Clinic in Sydney or Brisbane.

Why is the use of pigment correctors important after microneedling?

The primary aim of microneedling is to increase the absorption of pigment inhibitors. The role of these ingredients is to inhibit the enzyme that produces pigment, in turn this fades melasma & other causes of skin pigmentation.

Depending on your skin type we use a combination of pigment correctors such as arbutin, ascorbic acid, azelaic acid, hydroquinone, botanicals, cysteamine, retinol & niacinamide. Be guided by your clinician as to the appropriate ingredients & application.

How many sessions are required?

4 sessions, spaced 2-4 weeks apart. If your melasma were to respond to microneedling, you should see an improvement (or conversely worsening of pigmentation) within 4 weeks.


What is the ideal depth for microneedling melasma?

Between 0.2 to 1.5 mm are the recommended depths based upon research papers. If you really would like to give microneedling a try, start off with 0.2 mm. Use a stamping tool over Dermarollers or mechanized pens (such as Dermapen or SkinPen).

Remember, the aim of microneedling is to aid in delivery of topical serums so you do not need to go deeper than 0.2 mm.

What is the recovery following microneedling?

Recovery takes 0-4 days, depending on needle depth & passes. For DIY home microneedling, your recovery should ideally be less than 6 hours.

Aggressive in clinic microneedling may take over 4-5 days to recover. Aggressive treatments are not recommended as melasma flare ups are more common.


What is better- lasers or microneedling for melasma?

Lasers are a more precise treatment for melasma with better outcomes & faster results. Picosecond lasers like the Picosure Pro has less risks than microneedling.

Picosecond lasers employ ultrashort pulses of light to safely shatter unwanted pigment without heating the skin. This is the fundamental difference between picosecond technology & older lasers.

With precise settings, Picosure can clear up melasma pigmentation within a few short weeks. Results are seen as early as one week after treatment. Melasma clearance rates following laser is around 85%, as compared to 20% with microneedling.

What are the side effects of microneedling?

The three main side effects are-

  • Rebound melasma. This can be seen in up to 70% of cases.
  • Pigmentation worsening due to melasma flare ups or post treatment inflammation.
  • Pushing pigment deeper into the skin.
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Other rare side effects include infection & prolonged redness. Of the 3 side effects, pushing pigment deeper is the hardest to treat. This converts superficial melasma to deep melasma, a notoriously difficult variant to fade.

Dr Davin Lim

645K subscribers


If I can identify the cause of pigmentation, chances are I can treat it. This can only be achieved with careful real time examination…

More of our mostFrequently asked questions

How do we treat melasma flare ups due to microneedling?

What is the difference between microneedling & RF microneedling?

What about microneedling and tranexamic acid?

What about AHA chemical peels vs microneedling for melasma?

How does microneedling compare to Cosmelan peels or Dermamelan peels?

Does microneedling PRP work?

What is the difference between a dermaroller, SkinPen, Dermapen & stamping devices?

Why did my melasma flare up after microneedling?

How does microneedling work?

Will our treatments be effective for all cases of melasma?

A SummaryMelasma treatments with microneedling

Dr Davin Lim | Dermatologist
The Melasma Clinic, Brisbane | Sydney

Microneedling is an awesome treatment for acne scarring, but in the context of melasma it is a double edged sword. This treatment got lost in translation, namely it was first used to increase the penetration (hence absorption) of topicals. What started off as 0.1 to 0.2 mm needles, slowly crept up to 1.5 mm needles. The aesthetic world then got creative delivering tranexamic acid, arbutin, retinoids & ascorbic acid.

If you stick with conservative needle lengths of less than 0.2 mm, microneedling does not pose a problem- the worst thing it can do is not work. Should you venture towards the 1.0 to 1.5 mm mark & you are asking for trouble. This can push pigment from the upper part of your skin to the deeper depths. When this happens your melasma may be converted into deep dermal pigment. This is very hard to shift.