LOS ANGELES (KABC) --At 50, Julianne Sanchez says the little dark spots that come from sun exposure bother her. She jokes that the spots make her feel like a giraffe.
As a way to rid herself of the dark marks, Sanchez is trying microneedling, a dermatological procedure that reduces the appearance of brown spots, wrinkles and acne scars. A device evenly lays down microscopic punctures that encourage the growth of collagen.
While an office procedure costs about $200 to $700 per session, Sanchez is learning to do something similar at home with a dermaroller she purchased online for $20.
Sanchez's dermatologist, Dr. Shirley Chi, at the Center of Advanced Dermatology introduced the inexpensive device to her.
"It's kind of like doing a laser treatment or a microdermabrasion treatment all rolled into one where you're exfoliating, allowing better penetration of medicine and also stimulating collagen production. It's a good concept," Chi said.
The small device is tracked with hundreds of tiny needles that puncture microscopic holes into the skin. The rolling is controlled by the user, so there is no need for a numbing agent.
Sanchez said using the dermaroller is painless.
"It doesn't burn, it doesn't hurt. It just feels tingly," she said.
But Chi warns that using the dermaroller at home is not for everyone.
"You can be left with a little discoloration and that's something that you have to be concerned about, which is why I think you should probably talk to your doctor before you purchase one of these," she said.
How the roller is used depends on a doctor's advice and the condition of each person's skin. Dr. Sarmela Sunder of Persky Sunder Plastic Surgery advises applying the dermaroller thoroughly once a month to remove fine lines and wrinkles.
Chi recommends using the device two to three times per week to help medicine better penetrate the skin. But experts note that home results can vary depending on how much pressure is used.
"It's not even in terms of treatment. So you may not see a great result because you're applying it too lightly. I might actually be hurting my skin because I'm applying it too firmly," Sunder said.
To get optimal results at home, doctors recommend rolling the device along different areas of the face horizontally, vertically and diagonally. Less pressure should be applied to the more delicate areas of the face such as the area around the eyes.
For 21 days, Sanchez used the dermaroller twice a week along with a whitening agent at Chi's office. The results make her feel more confident in her appearance.
"That was my goal," she said. "To look the best that I can at the age I am."