Adding to the under-the-radar vibe is that Mr. Nguyen works out of a small, dark treatment room in Aqua, an underwater cycling studio in TriBeCa. My mind was luxuriously blank for 50 minutes as he washed my face using his own charcoal-based face cleanser; he then rubbed with a facial oil and did lymphatic drainage massage to get rid of water retention and puffiness. He has soft, strong fingers that move quickly and precisely around the eyes and jawline. When he wasn’t massaging me, he was kneading me or doing rolling motions or using tiny facial cups.

Every once in a while he would impart some wisdom, like “every pore is a sphincter,” or note that he was applying a face mask made with Manuka honey, and I would make some kind of affirmative noise and then go back to a place of wordless ecstasy as he worked on my skin. At the end he applied his own multivitamin serum and a cream, before massaging my neck and scalp and feet.

My fine lines were no longer visible, and my skin looked so good that a friend later asked me what highlighter I was using when I wasn’t wearing any makeup. But these were mere bonuses after the pleasure of the treatment.

As I was leaving, I told Mr. Nguyen I was about to fly to Asia and asked what I could do to preserve my skin during long-haul flights. “When you remember, just squeeze your skin to get the circulation going,” he said. “Massage is the youth serum in a bottle we’re all looking for.” I might believe him.

Traditionally (and perhaps more accurately), in Chinese medicine, facial acupuncture has been known as facial revitalization acupuncture (FRA). In America today, facial and cosmetic acupuncture has been called the injection-free face lift, the acu-face-lift, and facial rejuvenation. Facial revitalization acupuncture has been performed for hundreds of years (originally documented in 1279 AD) and has lead to profound improvement in skin health leading to healthier, younger looking skin. If you are searching for a holistic way to keep you looking and feeling younger, this revolutionary treatment is exactly what you need.

Properly performed cosmetic acupuncture has been clinically shown to help with the following:

  • Sun spots/splotchy skin
  • Skin Elasticity
  • Skin furrows and wrinkles
  • Tighter and firmer skin
  • Decrease facial swelling/edema

Facial and cosmetic acupuncture is much more than just a cosmetic procedure. With treatment, your skin will be healthier and more effectively fight against the natural aging process. It works in four specific ways:

  • Improves the flow of energy or “Qi” (pronounced chee)to allow for proper and more efficient healing and function throughout the entire body.
  • Improves circulation to the skin of the face which leads to faster recovery and creates a younger, glowing look.
  • Stimulates proper protein production of elastin and collagen resulting in full, firm, supple skin.
  • Improves muscle tone to reduce wrinkles and deep lines in the face associated with aging.

Dr. Kevin A. Imhoff, D.C. is a certified acupuncturist with over 5 years of clinical experience and expertise. He studied cosmetic and facial acupuncture under Dr. Joseph Carter and Dr. Jon Sunderlage and continues to research the most effective techniques to ensure you receive the best care for your particular concerns.

Based on your specific concerns, your history, and your physical examination, Dr. Kevin will establish the best treatment protocol to suit your needs. Because every patient is different and has different needs, no two treatment plans will be exactly the same.

To schedule your initial consultation and evaluation, call us at (217) 391-5446 or request an appointment here.

If you have questions, feel free to contact us heretext us by clicking here.

  • Insurance and Cost
  • Side Effects and Cleanliness
  • Before and After pictures
  • What to Expect from Facial Acupuncture

206k likes – View Post on Instagram Oh just relaxing…

Did you just glaze over that statement and suddenly hear a DJ scratch upon reading “acupuncture” and “facial” used in the same sentence? Yup, that was my initial reaction too. However, cosmetic acupuncture is in fact, not even a new trend at all. The practice has been around for centuries. So why are we only hearing about it now?

Maybe it’s because some of our favourite celebrities started touting needles in their faces on their Instagram pages fairly recently.

Before anything else, what is acupuncture and how does it actually work?

Acupuncture – you’ve most definitely heard about it. We’re talking about the ancient Chinese practice of having needles placed in strategic places around the body to relieve pain or stress. The practice traces their origin to about 2,000 years age and is supposedly able to bring balance in the flow of your energy or life force. Traditional Chinese Medicine claims that the body is simply a balance of your yin, yang and life force. This energy or life force is otherwise known as chi or qi (pronounced as ‘chee’). Any imbalance in those forces is believed to result in what our body translates as discomfort or pain.

The aim of acupuncture is to rebalance your energy to boost your wellbeing. Acupuncture has been used to treat migraines, relieve headaches, decrease anxiety, increase fertility, ease tooth and back pain, relieve sinus congestions, and aid weight loss.

During the treatment, needles are typically placed along what acupuncturists call vortex points or acupuncture points, which run along energy lines that act as pathways between energy points called meridians. When done by a professional acupuncturist, the insertion of fine needles in specific points along the meridian energy lines, stimulates the muscles, nerves, and connective tissues. So imagine this: every time a needle is inserted into an acupuncture point, the area is stimulated to increase blood flow and cell regeneration.

Cosmetic acupuncture, facial rejuvenation acupuncture, or facial acupuncture uses the same traditional practice to activate energy points in the face. You’re probably sitting there thinking,

“But how can needles inserted into your face help rejuvenate your skin?”

Each needle that is applied to your face will cause a positive micro-trauma in your skin. This positive trauma sends signals for your skin to increase the blood flow to the affected areas and naturally produce collagen. The increase in blood and oxygen to your face will not only help your skin repair itself, but many patients have found the treatment to be incredibly relaxing! I know… it sounds like absolute magical mumbo-jumbo, but by increasing blood flow to certain areas through acupuncture, the skin appears to look more youthful, radiant, and toned.

Apparently, the Chinese cracked the code thousands of years ago, that beauty really does start from within! They had created an acupuncture face lift before plastic surgery even existed. It is said that acupuncture was used on the Empress, the Emperor’s concubines, and the royal court. While acupuncture is not considered a text book science (it’s categorised as a pseudoscience), it’s longevity is testament to its success.

Worried about needles?

First of all, don’t imagine acupuncture needles to be the same size as the needles you use for sewing–nor are they even the same size as hypodermic needles you’ve probably encountered at the doctor’s office. They are about as fine as a single strand of hair. So it is not big at all!

Needles used for acupuncture are sterilised and are absolutely single-use and disposable. Reputable practitioners never reused needles on other patients.

How many needles do they use during the treatment?

An acupuncturist typically uses 40–70 needles on the face. However, the exact amount of needles needed for the procedure depends on each patient’s needs. Needles are placed along facial acupressure points to target specific areas of need. For patients with more wrinkles, acne, or other problems; expect to have more needles.

How long does a session go for?

Typically, a session will last about 45 to 90 minutes however; each clinic has its own packages that not only include facial acupuncture but a full body treatment too.

Must I have a full body acupuncture session or can I just have it done on my face?

Although there are clinics that solely do facial acupuncture, plenty of practitioners encourage a full treatment starting from the body and then the face. Professional acupuncturists claim that this is mainly because the procedure is redirecting energy to affected parts. If only the face is treated, there will be too much concentrated energy in one area. Not only that, body acupuncture treatment aids in the effects of your overall appearance. Remember it’s all about the balance of your energy flow!

When do you start to see results?

Clinics claim cosmetic acupuncture or ‘face acupuncture’ benefits can be seen after 10 – 12 sessions. However, patients have claimed to see improvement in their skin as soon as a week or two after their first session.

How long do results last?

Results may last years with regular maintenance treatments. Maintenance treatments are recommended to be done every 4 to 8 weeks for the best results.

What are the benefits of cosmetic acupuncture?

There seems to be a whole shopping list of benefits from cosmetic acupuncture, which says a lot about this treatment!
Check out these Before and After Photos below

Cosmetic acupuncture is perfect for ageing skin. Since those micro-traumas help your skin produce collagen and elastin, skin will look more filled out and youthful. Bid goodbye to fine lines and watch deepened wrinkles soften.

Acupuncture is said to minimize the appearance of sagging skin, which will come in handy for those pesky jowls! However, let’s not forget that nothing ages a person more than puffiness and darkness in the under eye region but this treatment aids in diminishing and brightening those problems too.

In terms of your skin, your complexion is said to appear more hydrated and radiant as it is moisturized from within. Patients can expect improved skin texture and colour that your skin will look as if you’ve mastered that no-makeup makeup look.
Troubled with acne? Is facial acupuncture for acne a thing? Yes, cosmetic acupuncture might be the answer you’ve been looking for. The treatment is said to reduce or eliminate acne, scarring caused by acne, and possibly affect hormonal imbalances that cause acne.

It has become an absolute game-changer as a natural alternative to invasive procedures in terms of anti-ageing treatments. Acupuncture for wrinkles seems an awful lot less invasive than Botox or fillers.

Why cosmetic acupuncture?

For people who fear invasive procedures, long downtimes from surgery, cosmetic acupuncture is the best safe option for you. There will be no downtime from recovery, no bandages, no swelling, and best of all no expensive stints at the hospital. Results from cosmetic acupuncture seem more gradual and natural so you can relax knowing you won’t look like you’re suddenly made of plastic.

Where do you get it done and what does it cost?

Here are a few clinics we’ve found to give you an idea of what packages and price points there are:

1) Cosmetic Acupuncture Clinic Melbourne

$ 98 for consultations and skin assessments without acupuncture treatment

$ 180 for consultation and skin assessment, facial acupuncture treatment, body acupuncture treatment for a total of 75 minutes
$ 130 for return consultations, facial acupuncture treatment, and body acupuncture treatment for a total of 45 minutes

Pros: The packages include body acupuncture too!

2) Zhong Centre & Dr. Abbie Cosmetic Acupuncture

$ 150 for consultation and cosmetic acupuncture treatment

Pros: Discounted packages if you pre-purchase a certain amount of treatments

3) LifeForce Health Solutions

No listed pricing; potential clients must book an appointment for a consultation

4) Joanna’s Day Spa

$ 160 for cosmetic facial rejuvenation package for a 90-minute treatment

$ 10 additional for initial consultations

SEE ALSO: Schapelle Corby address cosmetic surgery rumours

What Is Cosmetic Acupuncture?

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I have actually been trying out facial acupuncture myself with a professional acupuncturist! I have always wanted to find a natural alternative to other anti-ageing cosmetic treatments and in my opinion, facial acupuncture is working wonders for me. But so many of us may not know much about this treatment or whether it’s right for us, so I worked with our lovely friends at Health Space Clinics to put together some answers to your FAQs.


Me at the clinic with a face full of needles… you can’t quite see but I have actually got tiny needles in my forehead too!

Along with loads of other healthcare professionals, accredited acupuncturists are part of the Health Space Clinics practitioner team. Health Space has over 15 clinics across Sydney and is still growing so that you can access practitioners close to home. They offer all kinds of integrated health care services – everything from acupuncture to infrared sauna! I have actually been going to my local Chinese medicine acupuncturist but you can also try cosmetic acupuncture through these amazing Health Space Clinics!

What is facial acupuncture?
Cosmetic Acupuncture is the use of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture points and techniques to stimulate the muscles and skin of the face and body to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, discolouration, bags under the eyes and sagging skin to name a few.

How did it originate?
Cosmetic Acupuncture is not a new development with evidence of its practice being traced as far back as the Warring States and Han Dynasty in China. The Chinese interest in skin enhancing medicine encompassed both herbal preparations and acupuncture points located on the face. The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion was one of the most influential books written on acupuncture and introduced the nine types of needles including one specifically for the skin. The text also explores facial complexion and hair quality as a reflection of internal disharmony.

The Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644) saw further progression of cosmetic interest with the publication of Li Shi Zhen’s Materia Medica which listed unique requirements for specific facial features as well as issues of complexion and wrinkles. The jade roller is also said to have originated during this period. Western interest in Chinese Medicine was sparked in the 1970’s and knowledge of its benefits and scope of treatment has continued to expand. This has now encompassed the field of cosmetic acupuncture and facial enhancement.

How does it work? (How many needles are used, where do they go on the face, and how deep?)
Cosmetic acupuncture works by increasing blood circulation to the face as well as stimulating cells to produce more collagen. When the body lays down collagen in the areas of wrinkles it gives the effect of filling them in.

Needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points on the face to a depth of 1mm-5mm depending on the location. The use of needles in the deepest part of the wrinkle is also a popular technique to increase collagen production at the site. The number of needles varies depending on the patient’s specific areas of concern and overall skin appearance and can range from 12 – 100 needles. The needles used in cosmetic treatment are extremely small and some, called intradermal needles, are inserted using tweezers.

What are the benefits?
The benefits of cosmetic acupuncture are improved circulation to the face, increased oxygenation of the tissues, removal of toxins and relaxation of the muscles. Acupuncture also helps to engage the parasympathetic nervous system which has an array of health benefits.

Who should get facial acupuncture?
Anyone is a candidate for facial acupuncture. Some of the best results are seen on reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Other conditions commonly seen are rosacea, dry skin, acne, scarring and dark circles beneath the eyes.

Does it hurt?
The techniques applied to the face are gentle given the delicate nature of the skin. You can expect to feel a dull ache from some of the acupoints, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine is referred to a ‘de qi’.

How long does it take?
Each session allows an hour, needles are retained for between 25-40 minutes.

Are there any side effects?
A side effect can be bruising just like in traditional acupuncture. There are a lot of capillaries (the smallest blood vessels) in the face so we take extra care with even finer needles to avoid bruising but it sometimes can happen over the course of treatment. We minimise the effect by using a cold compress for a short period of time when we notice an area that may bruise. Another great side effect (or non-side effect) is no permanently surprised expressions!

Do I need to avoid any skin care products afterwards?
No but during a course of treatment, your practitioner may want to evaluate your skin products to see if some more natural things can be suggested.

How often should you get it? Is it a once-off or long-term treatment?
The goal is stimulate blood circulation in the face with acupuncture as it flushes out toxins from your skin. Better blood flow brings more oxygen and nutrients to your skin and helps your skin produce collagen, which can help reduce wrinkles. We suggest to get a good boost, clients should do 10 treatments over 5 weeks. Periodic maintenance treatments are suggested as well as proper hydration and clean eating.

Can I do facial acupuncture myself at home?
It is not advisable as bruising is more likely, possible damage to nerves surrounding the eye and the issue of clean and safe use and disposal of needles that are intended to be used one time.

Can I get body acupuncture as well for other skin concerns?
Yes! Many people don’t know that acupuncture and herbal medicine use a diagnostic approach to understand skin concerns in an eastern framework that can change symptoms such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.

How is it different to dermal rolling?
Dermal rolling is similar to acupressure in that it stimulates blood flow by putting pressure on the surface. Practitioners of acupuncture may also use dermal rollers but they will use it with the knowledge of channel flow and location. Acupuncture is one step deeper as it is not just on the surface of the skin and can more powerfully stimulate blood flow in these channels.

Are there any celebrities who use facial acupuncture?
The term “acupuncture facelifts” comes to mind…reportedly used by Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cher!

But it doesn’t stop there! I also spoke to Dr. Vivian Tam, creator of our bestselling Zilch tablets, who is also a cosmetic acupuncturist!

Apart from anti-ageing benefits, what else can cosmetic acupuncture be used for? Is it good for acne?
Yes, external needling works on the skin level itself, so if you have active acne, the needling increases bloodflow and movement to promote the healing process and reduce inflammation. Treatment can also be targeted at stubborn acne from the root cause, such as hormones. Acne scars can also be targeted through cosmetic acupuncture, which encourages the skin to renew and regenerate tissue by promoting collagen production.

Cosmetic acupuncture is also used to treat tense muscles in the face related to stress and anxiety, targeting facial muscles in the forehead and frown lines. It can also be used to treat other conditions such as Bell’s palsy.

And lastly…

I also just wanted to mention that if you think facial acupuncture is not for you, then don’t forget you can always try dermal rolling instead – it’s actually based on ancient acupuncture techniques!

Sources: Health Space Clinics, Dr Vivian Tam – Cosmetic Acupuncture Melbourne.

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I Tried Cosmetic Acupuncture to See What This Natural Anti-Aging Procedure Was All About

Photo: Nicole Crane

As I lay in a comfy chair and stared at the wall of a turquoise-painted room, attempting to relax, in my peripheral vision I could see a dozen tiny little needles poking out of my face. Freaky! Maybe I should put the eye mask on, I thought.

Instead, I took a selfie to see just what getting cosmetic acupuncture looked like head-on. I sent the photo to my husband, who replied, “YOU LOOK NUTS!”

You’re probably familiar with acupuncture treatments for pain, sleep problems, digestive issues, and even weight loss. But cosmetic acupuncture is different in that it claims to improve the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. With celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow touting the “acu-face-lift” procedure on social media, I became more and more interested in this holistic approach to anti-aging (no surgery, no chemicals).

Ever curious as to the latest in health and natural beauty, and feeling very aware of the prospect of wrinkles ever since I turned 30, I decided to give it a shot-no pun intended. I wanted to see what the procedure was really all about and determine if this would be my go-to way of combatting forehead wrinkles and crow’s-feet as I get older.

“An acu-face-lift is the natural Botox,” the acupuncturist said to me with a smile as he began to place the needles in my face at lightning speed.

Natural or not, needles are still needles, even if they are as thin as a strand of hair. Needles don’t usually freak me out, but knowing that these were going into my face still made me a little nervous at the start. But in truth, the selfie looked way worse than the procedure felt.

No matter what you hope to achieve with acupuncture, the process is the same: Needles are placed into the skin at specific points in the body where vital energy is said to flow, called meridians, to improve circulation, unblock “stuck” energy, and help the body to rejuvenate, explained Josh Nerenberg, owner and acupuncturist at San Diego Cosmetic Acupuncture. In cosmetic acupuncture, the idea is to place needles around the face at pressure points to evoke minor trauma, which the body will respond to in order to heal, says Nerenberg.

This minor damage created in the dermis is believed to encourage the skin’s own repairing mechanisms to stimulate cell re-growth, which subsequently increases the production of collagen and elastin. More collagen and elasticity in the face equals fewer wrinkles and smoother, more toned skin. Think of the process similar to the way that you create micro-tears in muscle fibers from exercise. Your bodies react to this new trauma of strength training by repairing and rebuilding the muscles worked to recuperate and come back bigger and stronger.

Once the needles were placed in my face, along with a couple of spots around my body to “calm and cleanse other meridians,” I lay still for 30 minutes. Once my time was up, the needles were quickly removed and my treatment was complete.

Comparatively speaking to Botox or other injectables, cosmetic acupuncture doesn’t put anything foreign into the body and is believed to instead stimulate the body’s natural resources to repair signs of aging. It’s also said to result in more gradual, natural improvements compared to more invasive procedures. (This isn’t to say Botox doesn’t live up to its anti-aging reputation or have other benefits.)

My acupuncturist tells me that a typical acu-face-lift program is 24 sessions, with significant improvements noticed around treatment 10, and the results last for three to five years. But the cost isn’t cheap: Prices vary, but à la carte treatments at the acupuncturist I visited range from $130 for a single session, to $1,900 for a 24-treatment package. To see results faster, cosmetic acupuncturists typically offer add-on procedures that increase the effectiveness of an acu-face-lift, including microneedling and nano needling. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About the Buzziest New Beauty Treatments)

But is the cost worth it? Does cosmetic acupuncture even work? While some women swear by its effectiveness, the proof just isn’t there yet. While one study found that cosmetic acupuncture “shows promising results as a therapy for facial elasticity,” more research needs to be done to give us better science-based evidence as to how the procedure works on facial tissue.

Supporters believe that cosmetic acupuncture also produces relaxation in facial muscles that tend to be chronically tense in our high-stress world, including tightened jaws and brow tension. (Related: I Got Botox In My Jaw for Stress Relief)

But my take? Interestingly enough, I did feel like I was glowing a bit when I walked out of the acupuncturist that day. I felt a little bit of the kind of zen I experience after a massage or meditation-but I have no idea if that can be attributed to the acupuncture or to that fact that I was lying down for half an hour in the middle of the day.

I didn’t expect to see concrete differences in my face after just one session, so it’s hard to say whether a handful more sessions would lead to a reduction in fine lines, but I did find the experience to be a pretty painless, somewhat relaxing treatment that I would definitely consider doing again. If it reduces the appearance of wrinkles, great. But even if it gives me some time alone to recenter myself, I’m all in.

  • By By Nicole Crane

Is Cosmetic Acupuncture The New Botox?

Facial acupuncture at Dr John Tsagaris’s clinic in Harrods, London

Dr John Tsagaris

Botox injections to erase facial lines are commonplace today but facial acupuncture, a treatment that’s been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is becoming increasingly popular as a natural alternative to plastic surgery and Botox. Acupuncture needles are a well-accepted treatment in the West for migraines or stress but facial acupuncture for aesthetic purposes is a more recent phenomenon. However, there are already dozens of clinics offering this service in London alone. Dr John Tsagaris, a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, was one of the first in the UK to offer facial acupuncture and is now one of London’s top practitioners in non-invasive aesthetic techniques. He combines the ancient traditions of Chinese medicine with new scientific medical insights to promote what he describes as “ageing well.” Dr Tsagaris’s methods have been praised by his loyal customers, including celebrity ones. Penelope Cruz in London’s Evening Standard recently described Dr John Tsagaris as “one of the best acupuncturists in the world.”

Cosmetic acupuncture by Dr. John Tsagaris

Dr. John Tsagaris

Using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Dr John Tsagaris uses acupuncture, specific bodywork, as well as herbal, supplement and lifestyle recommendations to help clients “age well” rather than to try to artificially hold back time. His signature treatment, “beauty acupuncture,” combines acupuncture with traditional facial treatments. Before the dozens of fine needles are applied to the face, the skin is prepared using Dr Tsaagaris’s own SkinPointEight products that cleanse and gently exfoliate. After the acupuncture, a SkinPointEight mask is applied and facial acupressure/shiatsu plus a derma-roller Chinese tool (that doesn’t include needles) is used to enable the ingredients in the mask to penetrate deeper.

Some products by John Tsagaris that he uses in his facial acupuncture treatments

Dr. John Tsagaris

So how does facial acupuncture actually work and does having at least 50 tiny needles inserted across the face hurt? The needles are incredibly fine so they make the slightest of painless pricks but what these tiny punctures do is cause the body to go into repair mode, increasing circulation and oxygen supply to the skin. The technique, inspired from traditional acupuncture, encourages production of newer, stronger collagen and elastin fibres resulting in improved firmness, elasticity, reduced fine lines and a healthier complexion and texture overall. This micro-wound healing response, unlike Botox, can influence the longterm health of the skin, working on more than just the superficial signs of ageing.

The main result people experience from facial acupuncture is a brighter, plumper complexion. The treatment does help to smooth lines and improve the firmness and volume of skin. But unlike Botox or dermal fillers, or a more extreme procedure like a facelift, facial acupuncture isn’t a quick, instant fix and more than one treatment is advised. An initial course of four treatments is suggested, once or twice a month with follow-up sessions to ensure maximum efficacy and long term results. Keeping in mind that a Botox treatment is an ongoing treatment as it only lasts a few months and involves injecting Botulinum toxin, it’s not surprising that a more natural treatment like facial acupuncture is becoming more popular.

Some products by John Tsagaris that he uses in his facial acupuncture treatments

Dr. John Tsagaris

In addition to facial acupuncture, Dr Tsagaris uses 20 minutes of LED (Light Emitting Diode) light therapy, backed up by NASA research, to activate skin cells and focus on skin’s cellular performance, to further enhance the acupuncture results. The treatment concludes with a short lymphatic facial massage with a special sonic device, followed by facial cupping to maximise the skin’s microcirculation and plumpness. The eye area is also gently treated with an eye massage tool and various serums and creams.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to Botox or seeking a treatment that will ensure you leave with a healthy glow and less fine lines (and who doesn’t want that?) Dr Tsagaris’s signature acupuncture facial is definitely worth considering. Dr Tsagaris moved his practice this year to the Harrod’s Wellness Clinic.

Facial acupuncture treatments start at £450 with Dr. John Tsagaris at The Wellness Centre, Fourth Floor, Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7XL

A Facelift Through Acupuncture?

By Regina Downing

Could sticking needles in my face make me look younger?

An acupuncture facelift seemed a bizarre idea. But at 48, I had become familiar with the signs of aging: drooping eyelids, sagging jowls, lines around my mouth. Fear of a “chicken neck” motivated me.

I’d looked into other options. A surgical facelift seemed premature, and the thought of bruising, pain, and an outlay of more than $10,000 led me to table that option. I also considered Thermage, a radio-frequency treatment designed to tighten and tone. But the cost—$2,000 to $5,000—dampened my interest, at least for now.

Someone I do business with—a woman who looks good—told me she’d had an “acupuncture facelift,” also called acupuncture facial rejuvenation. Although I was getting acupuncture for neck pain, I’d never heard of this.

Some may shy away from needles, but the ones used by acupuncturists aren’t scary. “They’re tiny flexible needles, as thin as your hair,” says Lauren McNeal, owner of Chesapeake Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Annapolis—the acupuncturist I saw. John Howard, who practices in Germantown, agrees: “If you blow on them, they bend.”

I liked that there would be no cutting into my face, no downtime, and none of the risks of a surgical facelift. At an average cost of $2,550—$125 to $300 a treatment—acupuncture facial rejuvenation seemed worth a try.

Yin Deficiency?

Which brought me back to the weirdness factor. Ask an acupuncturist for a diagnosis and you’ll hear terms like “liver heat” and “yin deficiency.” Needle placement can add to the confusion. One treatment for back pain calls for inserting three needles into the hands.

Acupuncture is based on a belief that the body’s vital energy, called qi (pronounced “chee”), circulates through 20 channels, or meridians. Branches of these meridians are thought to be connected to organs. An imbalance or interruption of qi is said to cause disease. By inserting needles at points where meridians come to the surface of the skin, acupuncturists seek to restore balance and energy flow through the body.

Although scientific research on acupuncture is in its infancy, it has been around for thousands of years. Until recently, the Chinese regularly performed major surgery using acupuncture as anesthesia.

At a conference in 1997 at the National Institutes of Health, the assembled physicians and practitioners agreed that acupuncture is effective in treating postoperative- and chemotherapy-induced nausea and pain following dental surgery. The panel also concluded that acupuncture might be effective in stroke rehabilitation and in the treatment of addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, low-back pain, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow.

Since getting my first acupuncture treatment for neck pain, I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject. I believe it is effective for some maladies. I met a man with crippling back pain who tried acupuncture in an attempt to avoid an eighth back surgery. Months later, he danced at his wedding. My mom, a migraine sufferer, found permanent relief after three sessions.

Acupuncture helped me with neck pain more than massage or chiropractic manipulation had. My neck pain now returns rarely. When it does, it’s less severe. My acupuncturist showed me how to deal with recurrences by applying acupressure to a spot on my ear. Another benefit: My blood pressure went down.

Facial-rejuvenation acupuncture was popular with Chinese emperors’ wives. In the past ten years there’s been more interest in this country. “It’s hot right now,” says Virginia Doran, a New York acupuncturist who developed the facial-rejuvenation protocol used by many in Washington. In 2002 Doran taught six courses in the procedure; in 2006 she taught 24.

Not all acupuncturists approve. Some think treatment should concentrate on medical concerns. Doran disagrees. “Vanity motivates people,” she says. “It’s a great way to get people into Oriental medicine. This way, people come back for more important things.”

Dr. Yiping Hu, of the Chinese Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic in Washington and Bethesda, says she does not offer facial acupuncture as a stand-alone treatment, but she is happy to work a little into treatments for other illnesses. “People come back and say, ‘My friends ask me what I did and tell me I look younger,’ ” Hu says.

“It’s Remarkable”

The woman who told me about acupuncture facelifts said her husband noticed a difference after a few appointments.

“It’s remarkable,” says Victoria Stewart of Annapolis, who had a full course of treatment three years ago and continues with a monthly booster. “My whole face just lightens up.” She says her skin is clearer and smoother, and fine lines are gone. “Nobody can believe my age,” says Stewart, who is in her late forties.

Doran, who says acupuncture can take “5 to 20 years” off the face, recommends an initial 12 treatments done once or twice a week. After that, some acupuncturists recommend booster treatments every month, while others say once every six months is sufficient.

Most acupuncturists will not perform the treatment on people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or migraines. And not everyone can tolerate the intensity. While acupuncture sessions for other ailments tend to last 20 to 40 minutes and involve 10 to 30 needles, my facial treatments took 90 minutes and, following Doran’s protocol, as many as 60 needles.

While I had found the treatments for my neck so relaxing that I often fell asleep, I did not have the same experience with facial acupuncture. Not that the needles hurt badly. But the face is more sensitive. Extensive facial needling tended to tense me up to the point my back would cramp up. Some acupuncturists use the topical anesthesia lidocaine to minimize any discomfort.

The explanation of how facial rejuvenation may work isn’t very clear. “Acupuncture has been shown to increase collagen production and aids in its dispersal thus helping to firm the skin and fill out wrinkles,” Doran writes on her Web site.

“Acupuncture promotes qi and blood circulation,” Hu says. “Increased circulation nourishes the skin, which keeps you looking younger.”

Doran says that by increasing circulation, treatments improve the complexion and tighten pores. “As the body ages, all your systems decline,” she says. “Acupuncture works on all your bodily systems, turning the aging clock back from within.”

Some physicians don’t buy it. They suggest that the needles simply irritate the skin and cause swelling, and this temporary swelling appears to fill in wrinkles.

Was It Worth It?

I decided to try it. I saw results after the first treatment.

My nasolabial folds—the creases between my nose and lips—seemed less prominent. After a few treatments, I noticed my eyes had lifted, my cheeks perked up, and the flesh under my neck didn’t look as loose. I feel I have a fresher face since I finished the 15 treatments, which took two months.

It’s not a dramatic change—it’s barely discernible in the photo accompanying this story. I’ve had the same reaction from those who see me in person: One friend said she liked the results, while another said she saw no difference.

“It certainly is a more subtle change than one would see with Botox or surgery,” says Stephanie Simmons, an Alexandria acupuncturist. “But I believe that there is an inner change that people feel.”➝

I believe acupuncture took a couple of years off my face. Would a couple of years be obvious to someone else? Probably not. I see it.

Since the acupuncture, I also started using Obagi skin products and retinol, at a cost of $350 for a two-to-three-month supply. I have to admit I’ve gotten more compliments on my skin since starting Obagi than I did after acupuncture alone.

Was acupuncture worth it? I had hoped for more. But when I look in the mirror, I’m not as startled by the rate of aging I see. On the road to wrinkle city, I feel as if I got out of the fast lane. After each booster treatment, I get an immediate lift. And while I have no proof, I credit acupuncture with also lifting my mood.

Is facial-rejuvenation acupuncture for you? That depends on your goals, your pocketbook, and the amount of time you have. My treatments, including three boosters, cost $1,350. It took 25 hours, not including travel. Thermage costs more but takes less time.

In any case, I felt better.
Finding an Acupuncturist

Almost all of the acupuncturists in Washington who do “facelifts” have been trained by Virginia Doran. To find graduates of her program, go to luminousbeauty.com/referrals.html.

Mary Elizabeth Wakefield—who was taught by Doran—is another well-known trainer. While most who have taken Wakefield’s program practice on the West Coast, you can find local acupuncturists at chiakra.com/referrals.htm.

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General Treatment Points in Cosmetic Acupuncture

admin | October 24, 2011

General Treatment Points in Cosmetic Acupuncture

A Du 20, P 6, An Mian points – for calming.
B Liv 3, Liv 5 – against nervousness.
C Sp 10, UB 17 – for cooling Blood-heat and purifying Blood, against pruritus.
D Lu 5 sedation, Sp 9 – points to descend dampness (diuretic).
E UB 13, LI 4 – points to disperse dampness (increase sweat).
F UB 20, St 40, UB 39 – points to circulate dampness.
G Sedation of LI 2, SI 8 and TW 10, needle UB 62 – points to disperse heat.
H LI 4, St 25, TW 6 – points to improve elimination (against constipation).
I Lu 1, K 10 and Sp 3 – points to improve nutrition and moisture to the skin.
J Ren 17 – master point for respiratory organs, used also for the skin.
K Wind elimination points
GB 20 – for head and face
UB 12 – for Lungs, back and skin
SI 12 – for shoulder and arm
GB 31 – for hip and leg
Ba Xie – for hands
Ba Feng – for feet.

Fig 5.5 Wind eliminating points.

Fig 5.4 (A) Points to nourish and moisturize the skin; (B) points against constipation.

Fig 5.3 (A, B) Points to circulate, eliminate and disperse dampness.

Fig 5.2 (A) Points to purify and cool Blood-heat

Fig 5.1 (A) Points against nervousness; (B) tranquillizing points.

The points listed above and shown in Figures 5.1 to 5.5 are generally used rather symptomatically, without much analysis. They are still very useful and employ different methods to disperse dampness from the three warmers; different ways to cool the body, dissimilar ways of elimination and for calming the person.

For example, if the dampness is in the skin, points for dispersion and circulation (F) are often used. Points for descending are used when there is dampness of the internal organ – the Lung.

The constipation points LI 4, St 25 and TW 6 (H) are used not only to regulate the stools, but also to improve elimination (of sebaceous secretions, of emotions, of menstruation) in general, and are great points to create a clear complexion.

Points Sp 10 and UB 17 (C) are used against allergies and itching. They are excellent in the treatment to cool heat in Blood, which is also good for acne, carbuncles and folliculitis and such surface inflammations of the skin. These are points which are used in almost every skin condition to purify the Blood and skin.

Points to disperse heat are mainly to sedate heat in the fire and metal elements, and UB 62 is the cardinal point of the Yang Motility (Yang Qiao) meridian, which cools the body. Points Lu 1, K 10 and Sp 3 (I) are a combination of points to cool, nourish and moisturize the skin. When combined with regular drinking of water and nutritious food, these points can bring about a metamorphosis of the skin. If I was treating someone with thin and dry skin, I would use these points at each session.

Ren 17 (J) is the master point of the respiratory system. If we include the skin, we have three lungs. This point is important for skin problems. As this is a dangerous point and should be given subcutaneously, one has to decide which way the needle should point. If it points in the direction of the energy flow of meridian, it will increase the yin of the skin and respiratory organs, and if it points against the direction of flow, it will reduce the yin in the skin and lungs (see Figures 5.1 to 5.4 ).

The wind elimination points are used against irritating symptoms such as itching, aversion to wind or cold on the skin. These points are invaluable in the treatment of allergic reactions – for example sneezing, asthma, urticaria – and in all diseases with wandering or suddenly appearing symptoms such as headaches, rheumatism and skin lesions. Just needle the wind-eliminating point in the affected area and if you know it is a wind–heat symptom (most skin problems are), use the wind elimination sedation needle technique (se e p. 79); if it is a wind–cold symptom, then use wind elimination tonification technique (see Figure 5.5 ). 1

Tags: General Treatment Points

Category: Cosmetic Acupuncture

Cosmetic Acupuncture: How Does It Really Work?

While cosmetic injectables are as popular as ever, there are holistic facial rejuvenation alternatives out there too, and we get a lot of questions on cosmetic acupuncture in particular. Does it really work? Is there bruising? Do you go to a regular acupuncturist? We reached out to two of our favorite acupuncturists in NYC to get the full scoop: Shellie Goldstein of Hamptons Acupuncture and Debbie Kung of Kung Acupuncture.

First off, how does cosmetic acupuncture work?

Shellie Goldstein gives us a deep dive: “Collagen is one of the major proteins and building blocks of skin tissue, and over time it breaks down. When you insert an acupuncture needle into the surface of the skin at the area of the collagen loss, the needle creates a mild trauma in the skin. The skin then sends in all the collagen-building and repair cells to repair the ‘trauma.’ Just like when you hurt or scrape yourself, the body’s natural ability to heal kicks in. So by strategically placing the needles into areas where there’s collagen loss, you can trigger the production of more collagen.”

Debbie tells us to think about cosmetic acupuncture “as a reset button for your face and neck.” It not only improves circulation, but the creation of new collagen also results in “softening of wrinkles, face-lifting, an even tone, softening of fine lines, and less crepiness.” Debbie adds that “from a traditional Chinese medicine viewpoint, this procedure tonifies and lifts qi; nourishes yin, essence, and blood; strengthens digestion; and helps build post-natal qi resulting in youthful radiance in the face.”

Can you get cosmetic acupuncture done by any acupuncturist, or is there a special certification?

There is special training in acupuncture facial rejuvenation procedures, but not all practitioners who claim to know facial acupuncture have completed this training.

Debbie suggests going to a Licensed Acupuncturist who has specific training because it’s imperative that the person holding the needles has training on the anatomy of the face, its structure, and nerve endings. It’s important to talk to your practitioner about their training and experience.

So, how many needles are involved?

Shellie says a typical cosmetic acupuncture session involves 10-20 points on the body and another 10 on the face. So you can expect around 25 needles overall. “As your treatment progresses and as changes occur in the face and body, we change the treatment accordingly,” she tells us. “In my practice, we may also use a lot of microcurrent. You can place the acupuncture needles in the arms, legs, and torso, and use microcurrent on the face to treat every single muscle of expression. That way, you don’t need to use as many needles.”

Do you see results immediately?

According to Shellie, you will likely see a difference right away. But she reminds us that “the goal, however, is to have the results last for a long time.” That’s why cosmetic acupuncture is done in a series. “It’s really like taking your face to the gym,” Shellie says. “They’re muscles, they’re building collagen, and you have to work them regularly.”

Debbie also notes that results are dependent on your lifestyle and age. Expect results immediately, but remember that results can vary. “I like to also address diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes during sessions for full beneficial results,” she says. “We work with your individual needs to achieve your goals.”

Debbie also reminds us that acupuncture (whether regular or cosmetic) has other amazing “side effects.” “Weight loss, more energy, a better sense of well-being, and higher quality sleep are also common results,” she tells us. “That’s because we address not only the face, but the body as well.”

How many sessions are needed?

Our experts will tell you that you as with any skincare regimen, you need to commit to see long-term results. Shellie recommends doing a 10-session treatment twice a week for five weeks, consecutively. This schedule works well with your skin’s monthly renewal process. “After that, a monthly maintenance session is recommended for one year,” she adds. “Many of my clients are so happy with their results, they actually continue this facial rejuvenation protocol indefinitely.”

Are there risks of bruising?

Debbie recommends taking arnica or using it topically if you’re prone to bruising. “Because the face has so many nerve endings and blood vessels, there’s always a risk of bruising (though it will be minimal),” she explains. “The needles used on the face are specifically designed to be shorter and thinner in gauge. They’re applied using tweezers to get into the crevices and fine lines of the face. But we do take a history of bruising and the use of blood thinners into consideration.”

Read This Next

Here’s a look at the basics of general acupuncture.
Plus, what it’s like to get Shellie Goldstein’s signature AcuFacial.

Find Beauty And Wellness Experts

Read client reviews, book appointments, and get advice from the experts in Charlotte’s Book. Only the best cosmetic doctors, skincare gurus, nutritionists, and fitness and wellness professionals make it into our book.

What is facial acupuncture?

Cosmetic facial acupuncture uses the traditional Chinese medicinal technique of placing fine needles in certain areas of the body to boost the flow of energy (chi or qi). When done on the face, acupuncture practitioners say the treatments can reduce signs of aging. You may hear it called facial acupuncture or even an acupuncture facelift.

Practitioners say facial acupuncture needles can help stimulate collagen and elastin, which helps skin look more youthful and firm. They say you’ll see a reduction in existing wrinkles, a boost in firmness, and a smoother texture that can last for years. It can also help reduce puffiness, improve tone, and help with dark circles.

So is facial acupuncture effective? Many people who do it swear by it—88% of RealSelf members say it’s Worth It. Scientific research is lacking on acupuncture’s cosmetic effects, but one small but promising study published in 2013 showed that participants had an increase in skin elasticity after five treatments.

For facial rejuvenation, the acupuncturist inserts 40 to 70 thin needles into your face—a surprisingly painless process. The needles are typically left in the skin for 25 minutes. The idea is that they cause micro injuries, stimulating the healing process. During healing, collagen and elastin production kick into high gear. It’s similar to a microneedling treatment, another anti-aging procedure that stimulates collagen with tiny needles—except in that case, they briefly puncture the skin via a pen-like device or roller. Acupuncturists also say that the tiny needles give skin a boost in blood flow and better circulation, which means a more radiant complexion.

What are the pros and cons of facial acupuncture?

Pros

  • It’s not just a cosmetic treatment. Acupuncture has been proven to improve your overall wellness, so you may also experience less stress as well as better mood, sleep, and digestion, along with skin benefits.

  • It’s a natural way to stimulate your body’s own natural healing process. There are no synthetic fillers in these needles.

  • While the results build over time, many RealSelf members say that their skin looked brighter and more supple immediately after a treatment.

Cons

  • There’s very limited research to prove that acupuncture can address wrinkles, skin laxity, texture changes, and other signs of skin aging.

  • You’ll need multiple treatments to see results. Some RealSelf members have had as many as 12 treatments, over the course of five to six weeks.

  • Results are not as dramatic as those you’d see from other skin rejuvenation procedures, like chemical peels, lasers, and radiofrequency treatments.

It can be costly. Dr. Kris Reddy, a plastic surgeon in West Palm Beach, Florida, says in a RealSelf Q&A that acupuncture’s out-of-pocket cost can run as much as $100 to $150 a session.

Cosmetic acupuncture before and after

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