A new study carried out by JAMA Dermatol has found that needling devices that prick the skin with 1mm or 2mm needles on a roller improved acne scars, according to both the patients and doctors.

The patients said the devices improved their acne scars by 41%. And dermatologists who were blinded to treatment procedures also reported a statistically significant improvement in scars treated with these devices, researchers said.

The treatment costs less than lasers and patients reported little or no pain, they reported online June 11 in JAMA Dermatology.

The trial did not include other treatments, so it is not clear how needling fares in comparison, but the study did appear to show a benefit, researchers say.

“Needling is so easy to undergo, and potentially so inexpensive, that even a modest benefit may be sufficient to make this a worthwhile treatment for some patients with limited budgets,” Dr. Murad Alam of Northwestern University in Chicago, who led the study, told Reuters Health by email.

In each of the 15 patients in the trial, half the face was randomly assigned to needling; the other half of the face received no treatment. Patients underwent three treatments, each spaced two weeks apart. Three and six months later, two dermatologists rated the scars of both the treated and untreated sides of the patients’ faces.

Compared to the scars at the start of the study, those treated with needling had improved significantly at six months (p=0.03) and not quite significantly at three months, as assessed by the global scarring grading system developed by Dr. Greg Goodman at the Skin and Cancer Foundation of Victoria.

When asked to rate the difference between the treated and untreated sides of their faces, patients perceived a 41% improvement.

Click here to read the clinical trial notes.