Acupuncture for skin rejuvenation, also called cosmetic or aesthetic acupuncture, is gaining attention as a safe and healthy alternative to Botox, chemical peels, lasers, and other risky procedures.
How it works
Like other rejuvenation methods, the purpose of cosmetic acupuncture is to reduce the unwanted signs of aging, thus generating a more vibrant appearance. It involves the insertion of tiny acupuncture needles into the face, neck, and/or abdomen in order to reduce the appearance of lines, improve skin’s tone and elasticity, minimize discoloration, and fade age spots. The needles achieve these affects by stimulating fibroblasts in the dermis to produce more collagen and elastin.
Facial rejuvenation acupuncture provides other health benefits – it’s a 2-for-1 treatment!
I have been trained in the Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture SystemTM developed by Martha Lucas, L.Ac., Ph.D. The health benefits this system imparts are more than just cosmetic. It uses real acupuncture points located on several major meridians (energy pathways) that run through the face, neck, and trunk and connect with major organs such as the stomach, large intestine, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, and urinary bladder. Thus, patients receive much more than just an aesthetic treatment; they gain other health benefits as well. Many patients report progressive improvement in their sleep, digestion, levels of stress and anxiety, hormonal imbalances, and other areas as a result of receiving cosmetic acupuncture. This is medicine from the inside out, because your complexion reflects the state of your internal health. This is the only cosmetic procedure that actually improves the patient’s health! So it’s a two-for-one treatment.
Common effects of facial rejuvenation acupuncture:
· Muscle tone improves
· Puffiness around the eyes decreases
· Sagging skin becomes firmer
· Fine wrinkles lessen and in some cases disappear
· Deeper lines may level out
· Skin tone and the complexion’s luster improve
· The jaw line becomes more defined
· the appearance of scar tissue softens
· Age spots lighten
Reported health benefits experienced by recipients of Mei Zen Cosmetic AcupunctureTM:
· Better sleep
· Reduction of stress and anxiety
· Lessening of mild depression
· Improved digestion
· Improved hormone regulation (e.g., fewer hot flashes, night sweats)
· Fewer headaches
· Increased energy
What kind of commitment does facial rejuvenation acupuncture require?
With the Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture System,TM the number of treatments required to achieve one’s desired results depends largely on the recipient’s age, diet, hydration, lifestyle (e.g., exercise, smoking, drinking, sun exposure), and other factors that all affect the state of her skin. The average treatment package is 10 sessions; most people start seeing noticeable changes in their skin around the 6th treatment. The greatest effects are seen when treatments are scheduled twice per week (2 days apart), but weekly sessions are also effective. After the patient’s initial goals are achieved, follow-up treatments once per month are recommended to maintain the effects. At minimum, we recommend 2 treatments in 1 week every 6 months. One of the best times to do the protocol is in the fall, before the holiday season and new year! The length of time the effects will last is highly dependent on how well the patient cares for her skin and overall health through lifestyle habits.
What are the risks with facial rejuvenation acupuncture?
The most common negative side effect to cosmetic acupuncture is mild bruising, which will resolve. For this reason, it is best to schedule your treatment sessions prior to any major social events. It is also possible that an acupuncture needle will strike a nerve, causing some pain or numbness, although this is a rare occurrence and will also resolve with time. As with traditional acupuncture, you will be asked to sign an informed consent before beginning cosmetic acupuncture treatments.
Contraindications for receiving cosmetic acupuncture:
· History of migraine headaches (acupuncture can help resolve this first)
· Those with seizure disorders
· Those with uncontrolled hypertension (unmanaged with doctor’s supervision)
· Having had Botox or other facial procedure within the past 6-8 months
Who is not an optimal candidate for cosmetic acupuncture
· Those who suffer from chronic smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and/or excessive sun damage may not see optimal results from cosmetic acupuncture
· Blood-thinning medications will increase the chance of bruising/bleeding
How you can improve your results with cosmetic acupuncture
As with any other procedure, it is important to understand what is involved beyond just the insertion of needles. There are things you can do to ensure that you get the most benefit from this type of acupuncture.
· Two weeks before your first treatment, you should discontinue taking aspirin, vitamin E, fish oil, flax seed oil, ginger, or any other supplements that thin the blood, under your doctor’s supervision. People on blood-thinning medication are poor candidates for facial rejuvenation acupuncture because of the risk of bleeding and bruising.
· Eliminate alcohol for 48 hours prior to your first treatment and for the duration of the treatment course. It will adversely affect your results.
· Chronic cigarette smoking is also contraindicated for this procedure, not because of health risks, but because it is so damaging to the skin that the results will be nominal. An acupuncturist can assist you with smoking cessation before you begin a cosmetic protocol.
· Dietary changes. We all know that what we eat reflects on our skin. You will experience the best results if you exercise regularly, drink more water, get enough rest, and as best you can, eliminate salt, sugar, refined carbohydrates, poor-quality fats (cheap oils such as canola & soybean), and processed foods. Your practitioner will provide you with healthy dietary guidelines as part of your treatments.
· Topical facial care will also be addressed. For those who do not have a regular skincare routine, products will be recommended for your skin type. At minimum, you will be asked to use a mild cleanser, toner/elixir, serum, and moisturizer BOTH morning and evenings. Using a daily sunscreen is mandatory, even during the winter months.
Although cosmetic acupuncture will not give you results as dramatic as surgery, some patients do see significant changes in their appearance. Again, each patient’s response to the treatments is highly individual; some see results quickly, while other take more time. Your practitioner will keep careful notes on your progress, and will likely take pictures after each session as part of your file, so you will have documentation of the effects.
Not just for anti-aging
Facial rejuvenation acupuncture is perhaps one of the healthiest options we have for maintaining a youthful appearance. It is not just for anti-aging, however; it may also be used to treat facial rosacea and acne, as well as to lessen the effects of Bells palsy. There is also a protocol for the abdomen for women concerned about stretch marks and sagging skin. I can answer all your questions about this healthy, beneficial, and minimally invasive treatment.