If you have a backyard, you might know about lawn aeration (stick with me). This involves using an aerator machine to pull small cores of soil out of the ground every three inches or so in a grid pattern. The holes that are left behind allow water and oxygen to permeate the root zone, helping grass grow stronger.
The same principles are at work in micro-coring: During a procedure, your doctor uses a micro-coring device with hollow needles to poke thousands of tiny holes in your skin, suctioning away the removed "core" of the tissue as it goes. Yikes, right? But fear not: With the use of local anesthesia, experts say, the procedure is relatively painless.
"This technology was created as a result of research into how nearby skin tightens and contracts when little portions are removed," says Hardik Doshi, MD, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Long Island, New York. "The skin's natural healing processes kick in to close those holes," resulting in a tighter, smoother appearance. You might be thinking, Isn’t that what microneedling does? Kind of.
"It's reasonable to infer a similarity when you hear the words 'micro' and 'needles,'" says Dr. Doshi, "but micro-coring technology is entirely different from microneedling." Both treatments use microneedles to pierce the skin and kickstart collagen production, but micro-coring has the added benefit of removing dermal tissue, rather than displacing it — the idea being, this should make room for the skin to shrink and tighten.
Board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, says micro-coring is actually more similar to fractional laser treatments, which use heat to create microscopic holes in the skin. But with micro-coring, he says, “you get that same result without the need for heat, or the resulting thermal injury," or the often crusty burn-recovery process that comes with it.
The micro-coring Ellacor system, developed by medical technology company Cytrellis, came on the scene just last year, after being approved by the FDA in 2021. Since its launch, micro-coring has made headlines as a "nonsurgical facelift alternative." And while it can remove some excess skin (up to 8% in the treated area), our experts say it's not comparable to a traditional facelift.