To date, the surgical delay of skin flaps is the most common and reliable method that increases skin flap survival. In this study, we aimed to increase skin flap viability using pre-conditioning by microneedling. Seventy-two Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into control, surgical flap delay (SFD), and four microneedling groups (7 or 14 days of preconditioning with 0.5 mm or 1 mm needles). Modified McFarlane flaps were raised on the back of rats. In Group I, a caudal pedicled skin flap was raised and the flap survival rate was assessed on post-operative day 14. In the SFD group, a bipedicled flap was created and after 14 days of surgical delay, all skin flaps were raised. In the microneedling groups, 0.5 mm or 1 mm needles were used for 7 or 14 days. The flap survival rates of all microneedling and SFD groups were significantly higher than the control group. The plasma levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) did not significantly differ between groups, but the VEGF level of skin samples in the SFD group was higher than the control group. The vessel counts of all microneedling and SFD groups were statistically higher than the control group in all skin samples taken before raising the flaps, but skin samples taken 14 days after raising the skin flap did not show any difference between groups. We showed that preconditioning by microneedling can be used to improve the viability of critical ischemic skin flaps at a level similar to surgical delay. (c) 2020 British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.