Do you have little (or not so little) lines on your face like elevens or crows? feet or smile lines that you wish you didn’t have, especially at your age? Many of us do, whether it is due to sun damage, hormones/medication, stress, poor lifestyle choices like smoking, or poor nutrition; and many of us want to get rid of them.

Getting rid of fine lines and the beginnings of sagging skin is not a quick process, and there is not really a ?one stop shop? you can go to where you go in with them and come out on the same day without them. Of course there are cosmetic doctors? offices and medi-spas that offer chemical injectables like Botox and some of the dermal fillers made of hyaluronic acid or collagen; but these are not permanent solutions and they are not without risk.

They also do nothing to address the reasons the lines are there in the first place. Take a very stressed out businessperson for example. This person has some deep elevens between the brows as well as horizontal forehead expression lines. The injectables may ?erase? these lines for awhile, but they are doing nothing to reduce the stress that probably contributed to the cause of the lines in the first place.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a cosmetic procedure that improved the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helped prevent new ones from forming by promoting relaxation and increasing overall wellness? Fortunately, cosmetic acupuncture can help you achieve all of these goals.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as well as other Asian healing practices that has been practiced with success for thousands of years. Acupuncture is performed by a licensed and board-certified acupuncturist inserting very fine needles into various chi (qi) points along the meridians (pathways) of the body. Acupuncture is a holistic healing method that considers the overall health of the person: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. When any part of this overall picture becomes out of balance due to factors we can or cannot control, blockages can form at the chi points which can lead to health problems. Inserting these needles into the various points can help release these blockages.

Cosmetic acupuncture?can help treat existing malaise, prevent future health problems, relieve stress, relieve pain, and re-balance the whole body and overall health of the person.

Even the Western World has started to recognize and realize the benefits of acupuncture. There are many scientific studies underway to ?measure? its success alone or in conjunction with other therapies to treat or prevent certain diseases and conditions. Also, it is one of the few alternative/complementary healthcare practices that is regulated by the FDA.

What is Cosmetic Acupuncture?

Cosmetic acupuncture uses traditional acupuncture methods to specifically treat the many chi points on the face. In TCM, as well as in Ayurveda, different areas of the face correspond to different organs and systems of the body. The way that lines, puffiness, or wrinkles appear on the face are clues to what is going on internally; specifically if there are any blockages, toxic build-up, or if an organ or system is not functioning optimally.

The theory is that inserting the needles into these various chi points will also help unblock/re-balance the corresponding organs or systems; and in doing so will resolve the lines/wrinkles on the face.

In addition, there speculation as to whether or not the insertion of the needles may trigger the cells in the dermis (deepest layer of the skin where most skin aging occurs) to produce more collagen and elastin, therefore giving a plumper, smoother, more youthful look to the skin. Whether or not this happens is something that makes sense theoretically, but is constantly being debated by doctors (not surprising).

Cosmetic acupuncture can be practiced on its own, or in conjunction with microcurrent, which delivers small amounts of electrical current into the skin via the needles with the intention of stimulating facial muscles to ?re-train? them when they start to sag. The efficacy of this addition to the procedure is also something that is being debated by doctors.

Similarity to Wull Stone Therapy and Facial Reflexology

Wull Stone Therapy (WST) is an Asian healing method that I am certified in. Acupuncture is one of the healing methods that WST evolved out of, and many of the points of the body we treat with WST are the same of those treated by acupuncture (and Reiki as well). Facial WST is done for the same reasons with the same goals as cosmetic acupuncture; as is facial reflexology.

The facial chi point ?maps? used in cosmetic acupuncture, WST, and facial reflexology are very similar:

Facial WST map


Facial acupuncture map


Facial reflexology map

Due to the fact that the acupuncture needles are so much smaller, they offer a more exact manipulation of the chi point, and can also enter it from different angles, so I would assume that the results would be better than those from WST or facial reflexology.

Does cosmetic acupuncture?hurt? Is it safe?

The needles used for acupuncture are so fine that people rarely feel the needles themselves. Each person?s overall experience will be different depending on his or her individual condition at the time of treatment, like reflexology, WST, or Reiki. Some people feel energized like they want to go run laps after the treatment, while others become so relaxed that they want to take a nap. Many people report feeling uplifted and peaceful as well.

Acupuncture is a much safer option than cosmetic injectables, since there are no chemicals or other ingredients being put into the body. However, like any other cosmetic procedure or healing treatment, it must be performed properly by a well-trained and licensed professional. Since needles are being inserted into the skin, proper infection control and sharps disposal procedures must be strictly adhered to. As previously mentioned, this is an area of alternative medicine that the FDA does regulate:

“The FDA requires that needles be sterile, nontoxic, and labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only. Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA, in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. Still, complications have resulted from inadequate sterilization of needles and from improper delivery of treatments. Practitioners should use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient and should swab treatment sites with alcohol or another disinfectant before inserting needles. When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs.”

So if you are considering cosmetic acupuncture, just like any other invasive procedure, you need to do your homework. Look for a board certified licensed professionals who has great word-of-mouth referrals.

How soon will I see results? Is it expensive?

Since everyone is different, everyone?s results will be different. Like microdermabrasion and chemical exfoliation, cosmetic acupuncture is done with a series of treatments to start (usually 10 treatments), which is then followed by monthly maintenance treatments. ?Sessions take up to 90 minutes each, which means the 10-session initial treatment recommended by the American Cosmetic Acupuncture Association requires a commitment of about three hours per week for five weeks.?

To maximize results, a good anti-inflammatory diet that also facilitates consistent detoxification is recommended, along with proper usage of topical skin care products. Your acupuncturist will have more information about how you can maximize your own individual results.

Like any other cosmetic procedure, acupuncture is not cheap; and it is rarely covered by insurance. However, unlike other aesthetic or cosmetic procedures, it does have its own health benefits and is a form of alternative medicine, for which some insurance companies either partially reimburse or offer discounts on services. Contact your insurance company to see what, if any coverage or discounts they offer. They might also have a list of preferred providers.

The actual price of cosmetic acupuncture will vary depending on where you live and how many acupuncturists happen to be practicing in your area, but generally the initial 10-session ?course of treatment costs between $1,000 and $1,500, after which patients are encouraged to continue monthly maintenance sessions at about $125 to $150? per session.

I plan on trying this?

Since I have already enjoyed results from WST and facial reflexology, I have a good feeling about cosmetic acupuncture. Since I have started taking great care of my skin from the inside out and outside in, I don’t have too many lines yet (thankfully!). However, I haven’t always taken care of myself as well as I do now, and like everyone else, I have to work to manage my stress levels. I have already decided that cosmetic injectables are not for me, so I think cosmetic acupuncture would be a great option for me when I feel I need to incorporate a stronger treatment into my regimen.

If the thought of injecting neurotoxins and synthetic chemical fillers into your face does not appeal to you, but you want something that packs a little more punch than Frownies to smooth out your lines, then maybe cosmetic acupuncture is for you.

If any of you already get or have already had cosmetic acupuncture treatments I would love to hear about your experience! Please share your thoughts with me and your fellow readers in the comments.

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*Image 1 from Totality; image 4 from RisingPianoFire; image 5 from BC Complementary Therapies; image 7 from Kaizen Healing Arts.

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