In our previous post about microneedling safety & efficacy (collagen induction therapy) we mentioned one particularly troublesome product designed to be used during a microneedling session that contains secretions of snails. We even posted pictures of what an allergic reaction to snail proteins needled into skin looks like. Well, it didn’t take long to hear about other cases. The following contains a message we received from Ann (named changed) who kindly gave permission to publish her pictures. As you can see, a snail-derived “growth factor” product is prone to producing very dramatic allergic type skin reactions.
I chose to have a microneedling with RF (radio frequency) treatment to help fill and smooth some fine lines and old acne scars. My Aesthetician recommended the dual treatment and has received them herself. To prepare for the treatment, my skin was double cleansed and a numbing cream was applied. My Aesthetician only wiped the cream away in each area she treated, but did not fully remove. The microneedle unit had 25 tiny needles and with the added heat from the RF it was fairly tolerable along the sides of my face where she started. As she progressed towards the midline of my face and around my eyes, it became uncomfortable, so she adjusted the settings. She covered my whole face and décolleté.
Immediately after the treatment she washed my skin and applied hyaluronic acid and cooled my skin. Then she applied a snail growth factor serum. My skin was rosy, almost looking sunburnt as expected. I was told this would be the reaction for the next 2 days, a moderate sunburn. The next morning I washed my skin with the cleanser they provided and applied a bacitracin and zinc ointment. I looked and felt just as expected, warm and red. By that evening I noticed bumps were starting to rise as if inflamed from the needles. My forehead was the worst, but also where my area of most concern was for receiving the benefit of the treatment. The next morning (day 2) I cleansed and applied the growth factor serum my Aesthetician recommended and the bacitracin/zinc ointment over the top. By mid-day the bumps were becoming hard like braille, I was starting to itch and there were areas where my skin was weeping a clear/yellowish fluid. This was not the minimal downtime I expected. By that night I wanted to claw my skin off I was itching so bad!
The next morning I called the clinic and it was determined by the Medical Director that I had an allergic reaction, was prescribed a steroid to treat the inflammation and was assured I would be fine. Because they had applied several different topical products, they said it would be impossible to know exactly what caused the reaction. I then researched microneedling reactions and came across barefacedtruth.com. What the doctors had posted was a concern with the growth factor serums, not so much the treatment. I then learned that the biggest concern was from nonhuman sources of gf. I immediately looked at the box of growth factor serum I purchased and the 1st ingredient was snail secretion. I had my answer!
Once on the medication and after applying topical hydrocortisone for several days, the itching was a bit better, but my skin was so dry. I started applying coconut oil and my skin quickly became more calm and hydrated. It took about a week and a half for the bumps to go down and most of the itching to stop. At 2 weeks out I’m still a tad pink, but I have that Irish skin and can stay red/pink for awhile.