Skip to content

Controlled Injury: Here’s what it really means, and how you can benefit from it

Browse by

By: Dr. Corey Hartman, Skin Wellness Dermatology

Microneedling, lasers, chemical peels, you name it. As a dermatologist, just about every cosmetic treatment I do besides injectables is considered “controlled injury.” 

But what’s the real meaning of this buzzword? Is there science behind it? Are there proven benefits? Some may think controlled injury is just another fad, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Here’s what you need to know about controlled injury, the significance of the word “controlled,” and most importantly, how your skin can reap the benefits. 

Controlled injury: What does this buzzword really mean? 

To put it simply, with controlled injury, you’re using some sort of manipulation to alter or “injure” the skin in a way that’s meant to enhance it. This could be through:

  • Mechanical manipulation – i.e. micro-needling
  • Chemical manipulation – i.e. chemical peels
  • Heat manipulation – i.e. lasers 

The many proven benefits of controlled injury

The impact that controlled injury can have on the skin is very well known and documented. We know that all of the imperfections that we aim to correct, like fine lines, scars, or discoloration, can be improved by employing this tactic. And really, it’s the only way you’re going to make any significant change in the skin.

Here’s why.

The dermis, the deeper layer of skin where scarring takes place, is largely responsible for the skin’s texture. That means, in order to make a real difference in the texture of the skin, you have to do something that’s going to penetrate deeply enough. 

This is the same reason why creams can only have so much of an effect. They can’t penetrate as deeply, and they can’t interact with the skin in the same way, that say a needle can. 

But once you’re able to impact the dermis, you start to remodel the collagen, and that’s when you see improvement in texture, tone, and color – all the aspects that go into having “glowing skin.” 

The need to emphasize the “controlled” in controlled injury

Controlled injury can be sort of paradoxical. You need to impact the dermis, or the deeper layer of skin, but if you penetrate too deeply, you can cause more of an injury than you’re looking for, which can lead to permanent scarring.

Think about a chemical peel. A lot of those same agents we use with a chemical peel can cause burns if they aren’t carefully monitored, timed, and neutralized. If somebody were to pour hydrochloric acid on you, you’d get a heck of a chemical peel, but it would be a bit too much, right? 

Dermatologists and estheticians must ensure these agents are penetrating to a certain depth in the skin before neutralizing or reversing that effect from going too far. Every single aspect of the procedure must be controlled. 

Controlled injury and the importance of an experienced dermatologist

As you can see, the same things that can help you can also hurt you, and that’s why these things are so dangerous in the hands of people who don’t really know what they’re doing.  For someone who’s inexperienced, trying to impact the deeper level of the skin while respecting the upper levels can be tricky. The last thing you want is for someone to create more of a problem than what you started out with.

If you’re ready to reap the benefits of treatments that involve controlled injury, just remember, they’re easy to do – the nuance and the expertise comes from knowing how much to do and how long to do it.

Learn more about controlled injury from Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL

At Skin Wellness Dermatology of Alabama, we offer cutting-edge skincare and dermatology services to our patients in the Greater Birmingham area, including Hoover and Homewood. At our offices in Birmingham & Chelsea, AL, our certified dermatologists are here to listen to your concerns and offer the individualized, high level of patient care you seek. We believe in making care accessible and affordable, and we will go out of our way to accommodate your visit. Give us a call today at 205-871-7332.