Skin needling is one of our favourite treatments because the results can be quite impressive. Regular treatments are the key to these results but you can even see a good outcome, depending on your skin requirements after just one.
The Secret combines micro-needling and radiofrequency energy, both well-regarded skin rejuvenation techniques, in one device. Treatments with the Secret improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while providing tightening and an increase in elasticity.
The needle in the Secret punctures the skin, causing what’s known as microtrauma – a microscopic injury to cells. This injury is so small it doesn’t cause the skin to scar, but instead induces the cells to produce collagen and elastin to repair itself.
Radiofrequency heat energy is emitted from the ends of the needles, compounding the collagen-stimulating results. Radiofrequency treatments are known to boost collagen and elastin production in skin cells via heat, which also shrinks and tightens existing collagen.
Heat causes collagen fibres to shrink and tighten. You can think of this process as much like cooking an egg or steak. The protein (egg or steak) shrinks and contracts, which is what happens to your collagen – also a protein.
Collagen is like a spring. Each of the coils is held apart by a bond, which can be broken down using heat, causing the spring to recoil, or shrink. This process is called denaturing. Collagen denatures at between 40C and 48C.
When temperatures get higher, 50-70C, collagen coagulates. Coagulate means to turn to a semi-solid state, which is useful for remodelling collagen, for example, when we treat scar tissue.
This high temperature – the temperature reached by the Secret – causes immediate shrinkage of collagen and wound-healing begins, which stimulates the production of new collagen. The new collagen improves skin tone, strength and elasticity.
One of the huge benefits of the Secret is the radiofrequency element; without that, the Secret would be just a micro-needling device, which is great, but not quite as special.
With other radiofrequency devices, the energy emitted must penetrate the topmost layers of skin, which can cause overheating before it can reach the deeper cells.
Temperature management is required, as the outer layer of skin – the epidermis – can tolerate about 40C before you feel pain. The needles override this limitation, delivering the energy directly to deeper layers.
The Secret has 25 microneedles in the handpiece, set up in a five by five grid. The needles sit in a retracted position until the handpiece is activated, whereby each needle sequentially penetrates the skin.
We adjust the depth of the needles for each treatment, depending on what the goal is for the treatment. The maximum depth is 3.5 mm – about the length of a match head.
The energy is emitted just from the end of the needles, so nearby tissue is not affected unless we reduce the depth of the needles. This flexibility allows us to be very precise.
You might hear the term ‘fractional’ used about cosmetic devices such as lasers. Fractional is a term used to describe how we apply energy treatments to a piece of skin: is every millimetre of the treatment area affected or just a fraction of it?
Fractional devices like the Secret only treat some – a fraction – of the skin; the space between the 25 needles is left untouched. This fractional approach facilitates healing and supports the nearby treated skin with untreated skin. We’ve learnt over time that we don’t need to treat every single part of the skin and that we can improve results with some skin left intact.
It’s important to note that each device has its pros and cons, being well-suited to some skin tasks and not others. There are plenty of lasers that make incredibly short work of difficult skin problems. There are, however, some advantages of the Secret over lasers when the goal of treatments is to stimulate collagen and elastin and tighten skin from deep down.
Lasers work from the outside in and aren’t able to penetrate too far into the skin. Lasers are great for treating discolouration, blood vessels, and treating or removing outer layers of skin, and for stimulating collagen and elastin from the outside-in.
The needles of the Secret penetrate the skin to reach the deeper layer of skin intended, deliver the micro-damage and radiofrequency, then retract.
We may also use botanicals and active serums depending on skin type (see the science)