January 2006 >
The Acupuncture Facelift: Fact or Fiction?
The Acupuncture Facelift: Fact or Fiction?
Charles Yarborough, L.Ac.
Have you read the service menu at your favorite spa lately? If so, you
may have noticed a new and intriguing addition: cosmetic acupuncture.
Cosmetic acupuncture – also known as acupuncture facial rejuvenation or
acupuncture facelift - is finding its way into an increasing number of
full-service spas, and for good reason. This new modality can enhance
not only your physical appearance but also your overall health, giving
you a glow that radiates from deep within. While cosmetic acupuncture as
a spa feature is a somewhat new phenomenon, there are nevertheless
centuries-old records of it being used in the service of beauty. What’s
more, acupuncture’s ability to improve a variety of skin conditions has
now been documented in legitimate clinical studies. Its effectiveness is
no longer a question of hearsay or testimonials. Before signing up for a
course of facial acupuncture treatments, however, there are a few things
you should consider.
Is it really a facelift? The answer is an unequivocal no. Nor is it
intended to replace a facelift. Cosmetic acupuncture entails no
incisions, sutures or acid peels and it will not produce sudden, drastic
changes in underlying structures. In fact, the American Cosmetic
Acupuncture Association discourages the use of the term, “facelift” in
connection with acupuncture, as this creates unrealistic expectations
and, ultimately, disappointment. Remember, it took decades of stress,
sun damage and exposure to environmental toxins for your skin to reach a
state of crisis, and the damage will not be instantly undone. The remedy
cosmetic acupuncture may offer is the reduction or erasure of fine lines
and the softening of deeper ones. Additionally, patients may experience
the firming of jowls and a reduction in the size of under-eye bags. It
is not unusual for clients to report enhanced skin tone, increased
energy and eyes that sparkle.
But it doesn’t stop there. Since facial acupuncture is based on
time-tested principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a person’s
overall health may also benefit. Insomnia may be corrected and weight
gain may be controlled. Cosmetic acupuncture is, after all, a whole-body
treatment. In the Traditional Chinese Medicine view, a person’s face is
affected selectively by his or her internal organs. Facial features
reflect organic strengths, and as internal organs are fortified, one’s
face reflects the improvement. Besides addressing a patient’s condition
holistically, the practitioner will probably work locally, inserting
painless, ultra-fine needles into--and around--specific wrinkles, acu-points
or muscle points, depending on the technique employed. Techniques can be
Spartan or luxuriant, and practitioners will often incorporate herbal
poultices, moisturizers, pulsed light or essential oils into a
treatment. An imperceptible electrical current may also be passed among
Finding a Practitioner
Finding certified practitioners may be easier than you think. They are
listed by region at the website of The American Cosmetic Acupuncture
Association (www.AmericanCosmeticAcupuncture.com). Membership in the
ACAA assures you the acupuncturist is licensed and has studied facial
cosmetic technique with a qualified teacher (not all of them have). You
might want to avoid cosmetic acupuncture practitioners and teachers who
claim their technique is better than all others (they may offer
testimonials). There are simply too many talented practitioners in the
field for anyone to make such a claim ethically.
The practitioner you choose should be willing to provide you with a free
fifteen-minute consultation as well as an estimate of the cost and the
number of treatments required. A course of ten treatments is standard,
with periodic follow-up visits as needed. These sessions are labor
intensive and will be priced differently than customary acupuncture
treatments. Not surprisingly, if you are a smoker or sun-worshipper, you
will need to make a longer commitment in order to achieve results.
Depending on the technique used, there is a slight chance of minor
temporary bruising, although your practitioner may lessen the
possibility by starting your session with a homeopathic remedy.
If your features are tired, your eyes are baggy and your skin is without
luster, yet you do not feel the need for cosmetic surgery, then facial
acupuncture may be for you. The freedom from post-treatment downtime and
the experience of enhanced
Vitality contribute to the ever-increasing
popularity of this Asian art. If you are willing to try something
different and new, you may find that facial acupuncture is the perfect
partner in your quest for rejuvenation and renewal.
Charles Yarborough, L.Ac. is director of the American Cosmetic
Acupuncture Association (www.AmericanCosmeticAcupuncture.com) and of
Hamptons Health Circle in Pasadena, CA.