Celebrities always know what’s hot in the world of anti-aging treatments and, this week, they’re excited about facial acupuncture.
A-list celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery and Madonna all swear by what is being described as a holistic alternative to Botox, claiming cosmetic acupuncture helps them look younger while boosting their health and well-being.
As an anti-aging treatment, facial acupuncture employs the techniques of traditional Chinese medicine coupled with modern-day science. The goal is to restore the balance of energy which flows throughout the body, while increasing the production of natural collagen in the skin.
It might not be ideal for the needle-phobic, however, since it does require the temporary insertion of several acupuncture and dermal needles to achieve the highest level of skin rejuvenation.
But those who’ve tried this centuries-old yet cutting-edge procedure say it’s worth it, and that it gives the skin a youthful glow while reducing the appearance of stubborn facial wrinkles. It has also been claimed that an acupuncture facelift can help treat acne, dark circles, dark spots, age spots and a myriad of other common skin conditions.
The best part? It’s 100 percent non-surgical.
What Is Cosmetic Acupuncture?
There are over 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, all of which — according to traditional Chinese medicine — are connected by 20 pathways called meridians. These pathways contain conduct energy — also known as “qi” — between the surface of the body and internal organs. Placing needles in the body is thought to help restore the yin-yang balance in the body, treating everything from depression and allergies to bone disease and high blood pressure.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s also believed that your face has the capacity to act as a mirror for what’s going on inside your body. For instance, facial changes such as wrinkling around the eyebrows may be connected to liver problems, while wrinkling around the mouth may be associated with the spleen.
Since the belief is that physical appearance is closely linked to a person’s overall health, it’s no surprise that acupuncturists have developed methods of addressing cosmetic concerns and general health issues simultaneously.
A more modern twist on these ancient techniques involves the use of acupuncture needles to boost collagen production, in much the same way as microneedling or laser treatments. When an acupuncture needle is inserted into specific points on the face — especially in areas which have experienced an excessive loss of collagen — the disruption in the skin tissue causes the body to respond by sending collagen-building cells to the area. This is a great solution for those who want an anti-aging treatment that will address frown lines, crow’s feet and other wrinkles the natural way.
If you’re looking for a way to boost your overall health and well-being while enjoying cosmetic benefits at the same time, this effective treatment may be something you want to consider.
The Benefits of Facial Acupuncture
- Wrinkle Correction — Cosmetic acupuncture can help promote collagen synthesis by way of a chemical reaction in the cells, which helps to address fine lines and wrinkles.
- Plumping Power — This treatment targets facial muscles and encourages blood flow, which can increase the transmission of nutrients and oxygen to the skin, creating a more filled-out appearance courtesy of greater levels of collagen and elastin. As a result, redness, dark spots, age spots and more are eliminated.
- A Smooth Complexion — Additionally, cosmetic acupuncture is highly touted for its amazing capacity to leave behind a smooth, glowing complexion. This occurs because through acupuncture the skin cells receive the proper level of oxygen and nutrients delivered through increased blood cells to correct problem areas.
- Scar Reduction — There is evidence to suggest that cosmetic acupuncture and other microneedling procedures can be effective as a holistic method to treat scars.
Side Effects, Recovery, and Results
Depending on which facial areas require treatment, during your first acupuncture session you can expect to have between 20 to 25 needles inserted into the surface of the skin. If you’re interested in a beautifying acupuncture treatment, you’ll likely receive fewer needles to target problem areas around the eyes and mouth.
Most patients report that cosmetic acupuncture is painless, while others have experienced slight stinging sensations, mild pain or discomfort. Each facial acupuncture session should last between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on your particular concerns.
As far as recovery goes, it doesn’t get much better than this. Cosmetic acupuncture patients report minimal side effects and virtually no downtime. Minor bruising at the injection site is possible, as is mild discomfort, but most patients are able to return to daily life immediately following the procedure.
This is one more reason why it has long been popular in China and Korea, and why some A-list celebrities prefer it to Botox, cosmetic surgery and laser treatments.
Some treatments, such as AcuFacial — half-facial, half acupuncture — may integrate other skincare treatments to prepare the skin before needles are introduced. For example, New York-based Shellie Goldstein Associates uses face cupping, microcurrent, dermarolling, ultrasound, microdermabrasion and LED light therapy to address underlying issues before using cosmetic acupuncture to boost collagen.
According to Shellie Goldstein, one of the leading worldwide experts on cosmetic facial acupuncture, this double-duty treatment can simultaneously stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage, improve muscle tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, all while giving the face and eyes a radiant glow.
Facial Acupuncture Vs. Botox: Which Works Better?
Just like Botox, cosmetic acupuncture is not meant to be an immediate or long-term cure-all. While many people report immediate results, for others it can take several treatments before achieving a visibly significant improvement in skin appearance and texture.
Most specialists recommend at least five sessions of facial acupuncture for the best results and, as with Botox, additional maintenance treatments are highly encouraged. Many devoted cosmetic acupuncture patients receive maintenance treatments every four to six weeks, whereas results from Botox injections can last for up to four months.
Finally, where each acupuncture facelift session costs between $100 and $300, Botox runs from $300 to $1,000 per session.
By way of scientific proof, there is evidence to support the efficacy of both cosmetic injectables and facial acupuncture. One 2013 study concluded that “facial cosmetic acupuncture showed promising results as a therapy for facial elasticity.”
With that being said, facial acupuncture doesn’t quite stack up to Botox or Restylane in terms of treating deep wrinkles in one specific area. It is most effective when used to improve the overall look, texture, elasticity and glow of the skin.
Botox injections are often administered alongside facial acupuncture, but doctors advise patients wait at least four weeks after their last Botox session before having acupuncture.
Facial Acupuncture Vs. Other Non-Invasive Facial Treatments
You probably know that there are an incredible variety of non-invasive facial rejuvenation treatments on the market — from prescription collagen-boosting creams and essential oils to dermal lasers — that can help relax and tighten facial muscles while improving the skin’s appearance.
Much like Botox, many estheticians and acupuncturists recommend doubling- or tripling-up on treatments for your specific issues.
For example, you may consider pairing a chemical peel or laser treatment with cosmetic acupuncture if you want to address deep wrinkles and creases while also boosting collagen production.
Starting out with Facial Acupuncture
The two primary administrators of cosmetic acupuncture are acupuncturists and estheticians. According to Darren Starwynn, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine based in a Mill Valley, California, acupuncturists are more likely to yield positive results than estheticians, an ironic claim considering estheticians are trained in facial rejuvenation specifically, whereas acupuncturists concentrate on general physical health and well-being.
Deciding whether or not to see an esthetician or an acupuncturist comes down to personal preferences — if you’re interested in traditional acupuncture while you receive cosmetic acupuncture and also want to address physical ailments, then you should see a traditional acupuncture practitioner.
If your primary concern is cosmetic, then you should see an esthetician and inquire further about supplementary treatments like skin injections and microdermabrasion. No matter where you opt to go for treatment, you can expect to enjoy both physical and mental benefits from your acupuncture experience.