Beauty Treatment of Microneedle Therapy System May Cause Bacterial
Infection - CHOICE # 418 (August 15, 2011)
Microneedle Therapy System (MTS) has recently become a
fashionable beauty treatment. With the do-it-yourself MTS tools kit
available on market, consumers can easily acquire one to conduct
the treatment themselves. The Consumer Council however cautions
beauty-conscious consumers of the use of MTS tools, which may
result in skin problems.
The Consumer Council has received 43 complaint cases regarding
microneedle treatments since December 2007. More than 10 cases
reported different levels of adverse skin conditions such as
itching, redness, dryness, peeling, pain, rash, worsened acne and
pores inflammation or even dermatitis.
In the MTS treatment, a device, usually in the form of a roller
or stamp with many fine needles, rolls over or presses on the
specific skin areas which require treatment. During the process,
the fine needles on the roller or stamp penetrate into the skin,
creating multiple micro-wounds or micro-channels which claimed to
stimulate the production of collagen on the dermis and enhance the
absorption of skin care serums.
The microneedles are made of materials such as silicon,
stainless steel, titanium, glass or polymers and the length of the
fine needles varies. The most common are 0.25mm, 0.5mm and 1.0mm in
length, and each roller or stamp costs several hundred dollars.
The Consumers Council urges consumers to be aware of the
following risks before engaging in microneedle beauty
Risk 1: Microbial infection caused by reuse of device
Some manufacturers indicate that the microneedle roller or stamp
can be used repeatedly as long as the device has been disinfected
properly. Some sales people suggest rinsing the device with hot
water or soaking in medical disinfectants before use.
However, the suggested procedures cannot kill all bacteria, fungi
and viruses on the needles. Using the inadequately disinfected
device on the skin may result in serious infection.
Risk 2: Transmission of HIV and hepatitis through shared
Microneedles operate by penetrating into the skin. Sharing a device
with others increases the risk of viral or bacterial infection. As
well, dermatologists warn that viruses such as human
immunodeficiency (HIV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be
transmitted through shared MTS devices which are not properly
Risk 3: Bacterial infection caused by contaminated skin care
The protection capability of the skin diminishes when it is wounded
by the fine needles. If the skin care serums are of poor quality or
contaminated, then bacteria may get inside the skin causing
Risk 4: Skin problems may be worsen after treatment
If your face has open wounds, inflammation or acne with pus, you
are seriously warned not to use the MTS treatment, otherwise the
microneedles may bring bacteria into the dermis worsening the
Risk 5: MTS treatment may cause swelling and redness
When the skin is injured by the fine needles of the device, it will
result in a number of inflammatory responses such as redness, local
burning sensation, pain and inflammation, which will last for 3 to
14 days. The longer the fine needles, the greater will be the pain
during the treatment and the longer it will take to recover. The
MTS treatment may also result in a dry skin condition due to the
loss of skin moisture.
Risk 6: Physical pain caused by poor operation
The operation of a microneedles device requires professional
knowledge as well as experience and skills. Improper operation may
injure one's eye if the device is applied on the skin near the eye.
Pressing the device too hard on one's face, or using it too
frequently may also cause damage to the skin tissue.
In Hong Kong, the MTS treatment is not a mainstream treatment
against skin problems and MTS tools are not generally regarded as
medical devices by the medical profession. Under the voluntary
listing system of medical devices maintained by the Department of
Health, no microneedles device has been listed as a medical
The Consumer Council calls for tightening the regulations on the
provision of the relevant beauty devices and services. As the
microneedles tool is an invasive tool, the Council recommends that
consumers fully assess their actual needs against the risks before
taking the MTS treatment, and do not purchase the microneedles tool
for self application.
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