The difference between Microneedling and MCA or Inkless Tattooing

What is Micro needling and what’s the difference between Microneedling and MCA (Multi-Trepannic Collagen Actuation) or Inkless Tattooing?

So what’s the difference between Microneedling and MCA or Inkless Tattooing?
Micro Needling for fine lines, stretch marks and scars is also known as Microneedling, Multi-Trepannic Collagen Actuation, (MCA) or Inkless Tattooing and probably many more terms are banded around.
Terminology has become a bit confusing but although a lot of companies and people say that ‘microneedling’ is not the same as MCA, at a fundamental level, it is!
I’m a big believer of keeping things simple!
All you need to remember is, all of these terms are actually a form of ‘Micro needling’, they are just delivered using slightly different methods.
All of these methods require ‘micro needles’ to puncture the skin in a very controlled way, creating small, safe injuries to the treatment area to stimulate the skin to make healthier cells. 

The differences are: the device that is used, how deeply the micro needles puncture the skin and how targeted the punctures are.

I have broken down the differences here to help with confusion that can occur, when looking for treatments.

‘Micro needling’

Any treatment where ‘micro’ (tiny, fine) needles are used to puncture the skin in a very controlled way, creating small, safe injuries to the treatment area to stimulate the skin to make healthier cells. 


  • Is a term usually used for a more cosmetic treatment to encourage the growth of collagen and elastin for lines and wrinkles on the face, neck and hands.
  • Cosmetic  Grade Treatment
  • Treatment areas- Face, neck, hands, any large area.
  • Treatment aims- ·Improved pigmentation · Improved texture· Smaller pores · Lifted and tightened skin.  Reduced hyperpigmentation such as for sun spots. It has been clinically successful in improving various complaints for almost all skin types and is a non-invasive treatment to help attain a smooth, rejuvenated complexion.
  • Device used– normally a derma pen, dermal roller (Derma rollers are used less now due to the needles entering the skin at an angle, which can cause more damage than necessary)
  • Needles used– normally a fractional needle that contains, either, 16, 20, 32 needles spaced out in a large round cartridge.
  • Skin Depth– Varies but usually 0.5 mm- 1.3 mm for face, 1mm- 1.5mm for neck and hands
  • Serums- Yes always,  but this depends on what is being treated. Often hyalauronic acid to add more hydration and plumpness to the skin and to reduce lines and wrinkles, vitamin C to lighten darker hyperpigmentaed areas, multi peptides, multi vitamins and minerals for general skin health and youthfulness. 
  • Number of sessions- between 2- 4 are usually required, 4-6 weeks apart.

A microneedle Cartridge with 32 needles








‘MCA (Multi-Trepannic Collagen Actuation)’ / ‘Medical Needling’ / ‘Inkless Tattooing’ / ‘Inkfree Tattooing’ / ‘Targeted Microneedling’

  • This is still a form of ‘micro needling’ but this technique is used to help resurface and soften the texture or tightness of scars or to plump and even out the texture of stretchmarks.
  • The method used is more targeted into the scar or stretchmark and often the surrounding skin is not treated. 
  • Medical Grade Treatment- due to depth.
  • Treatment areas- Scars and stretchmarks.

    Skin graft scar

    Before and after 2 sessions of medical needling to soften a skin graft scar

  • Treatment aims- ·Softened burn / skin graft scars · Improved appearance of stretch marks · Lifted and tightened skin.  To stimulate the skin to re-heal itself in a very controlled way so it produces more skin cells, more organised collagen and elastin and reorganises and removes excess tissue and cells, such as excess melanocytes, (Pigment cells)in the case of hyperpigmentation and knotted tight collagen fibres in the case of hard, raised or lumpy scars.
  • Device used– A tattoo machine, generally a rotary machine.
  • Needles used– normally a 1 point nano needle or a 3 micro needle.
  • Skin Depth– Varies -usually 1mm-2.5mm depending on the depth of scar tissue or the stretchmarks.
  • Serums- Yes always,  however, ONE TYPE DOES NOT FIT ALL. The choice of serum depends on what is being treated. Multi peptides, multi vitamins and minerals can be used as well as my favourite, exosomes and polynucleotides. (Although, polynucleotides need to be injected using a needle and syringe)
  • Number of sessions- between 2- 4 are usually required, 6-8 weeks apart.
  • Marketing confusion– Some companies market this technique as a ‘new’ or ‘ground breaking’ technique, however, for 13 years, I’ve treated scars in this very targeted way, with an array of amino acids and vitamin serums, as scars require a much more targeted specialised and often deeper treatment.
A tattoo needle cartridge

A tattoo needle cartridge

I find I refer back to my nursing experience and medical knowledge, every day, whilst working with clients skin. My nursing and scar treatment experience tells me when a scar or stretch mark needs a certain type of needle or machine speed and also when those variables need changing during a treatment and crucially, when the skin has had enough work and needs to heal.

Discount Packages-
Please note-£75 deposit per treatment within your chosen package, must be paid for at time of booking the first treatment. i.e. £150 deposit (for two treatments) to be paid at time of booking the first treatment.
Package balance must be paid in total, at the first treatment.

For more information on Microneedling prices and discount packages, click here.