Micro-coring is a non-surgical cosmetic treatment that has caused quite a stir in recent years. And that's not surprising, considering what micro-coring promises - the permanent elimination of sagging skin without a single incision or stitch. But what exactly is micro-coring, how does it work, and how does it compare to other treatments like microneedling?
Let us find out!
What is Dermal Micro-Coring?
Most people are probably familiar with punch biopsies, which are used to assess for skin cancers and inflammatory conditions. Micro-coring is doing the same thing but on a much smaller scale. Also known as fractional tissue extraction, this minimally invasive anti-ageing treatment targets loose skin and wrinkles. Currently, there's one micro-coring device in the market - Ellacor® System with Micro-Coring™ technology.
This first-of-its-kind device was launched in 2021 by Cytrellis, a U.S. medical device company. This was after receiving FDA approval for the "treatment of moderate and severe wrinkles in the mid and lower face in adults aged 22 years or older with Fitzpatrick skin types I- IV."
The Ellacor device uses tiny hollowed stainless steel needles to non-surgically remove thousands of tiny columns of loose skin, leaving bridges of normal skin between the micro-cores. At the same time, the handheld device removes the microscopic pieces of skin through an integrated suction system. The device can also be dialled up or down depending on the depth required to achieve the desired result. Generally, it removes approximately 10,000 to 12,000 microcores, about 4% to 8% of the skin.
How Does Micro-Coring Work?
As with many other cosmetic advancements, micro coring initially arose from a completely different application. A perfect example is the evolution of Botox, where the toxin was initially used to treat eye spasms. In the case of micro coring, the idea came from Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), a surgical hair restoration treatment. In this procedure, individual hair follicles are removed from the scalp prior to transplantation. It was noted that the skin was much tighter after the tissue healed. This sparked the interest of medical researchers in the field of facial aesthetics. Soon they were looking for a way to apply this skin-tightening effect to facial ageing.
Since then, several clinical studies have shown an improvement in wrinkles and skin tightening among patients. The way micro coring works is similar to a surgical facelift. When you suffer from skin laxity, there is often excess skin draping over, making you look tired and aged. This is one of the reasons people have a surgical facelift to get rid of excess skin.
However, instead of taking a huge chunk of skin surgically, with micro-coring, you're taking thousands of tiny micro-cores of skin less than 500 µm (half a millimetre) in size.
How Does Micro Coring Compare to Microneedling?
As with any new device that makes revolutionary claims, and because very few aesthetic practitioners in the UK have even gotten their hands on the Ellacor device, there will be a lot of questions and doubts. To help you sort out the facts and myths, we'll compare micro-coring to an already established and trusted skin tightening and rejuvenation protocol— microneedling.
Both are FDA Approved by Regulatory Authorities
The FDA has legally authorized both technologies in the US. This means the FDA has reviewed data to support a reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of these devices for these uses in their respective applications. Currently, there’s only one FDA-approved micro coring device, Ellacor, similar to SkinPen® Precision, the first and only FDA-approved microneedling device.
Both stimulate collagen production
Ample collagen fibres in the skin are essential for wound healing and skin firmness. However, as we age, collagen production in our skin decreases, leading to skin sagging and wrinkling. Both treatments cause micro-injuries in the skin, stimulating the body's healing mechanism. This leads to the formation of new collagen fibres in the skin, resulting in smoother, firmer skin.
Both are a good alternative to a surgical facelift
Both treatments can be used as a preventative measure by younger patients who want to avert or avoid future surgical intervention. They also yield a much more natural-looking result than surgery. Coupled with the reduced risk and shorter recovery time, these procedures offer a good alternative for patients who do not want surgery.
Microcoring could be more effective at tackling skin laxity
Similar to microneedling, micro-coring creates microscopic holes in the skin. The key difference is that micro-coring removes the skin in those holes. 4% to 8% of the skin can be removed, which might make it more effective in treating moderate to severe sagging skin.
Microneedling is more suitable for darker skin tones
The effects of micro-coring on darker skin tones are not known. Unfortunately, the clinical studies were only performed on Fitzpatrick types 1-4 [lighter skin tones], so it remains unclear whether or not it is safe for darker skin. More studies need to be done. On the other hand, microneedling has already proven to be a safe technique for skin rejuvenation in darker skin.
Ellacor is not available in the UK yet
As of early 2023, Ellacor® System with Micro-Coring™ technology is unavailable in the UK. This device was rolled out to a few medical aesthetics clinics in the US in late 2022. So it will be some time before the technology finds its way across the world. On the other hand, microneedling has been around for years, and almost all established non-surgical cosmetics practitioners provide the treatment. In fact, it's one of the most popular treatments in our clinic, especially when combined with stem cell growth factors.
We are still in the early stages of this skin-tightening and wrinkle-smoothing treatment. But the studies and reports of results from patients already using it are promising. As always, we at Dr Aesthetica closely follow all developments in the non-surgical cosmetic treatments space and will continue to report our findings.