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Is Cosmetic Acupuncture a Viable Natural Substitute for Botox?

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

I reclined in a comfortable chair and gazed at the wall of a turquoise-painted room, trying to unwind — but out of the corner of my eye, I could perceive a dozen tiny little needles protruding from my face. “Bizarre! Perhaps I should wear the eye mask,” I pondered. Instead, I snapped a self-portrait to see what cosmetic acupuncture looked like head-on. I sent the picture to my spouse, who replied, “YOU LOOK CRAZY!” Well, hopefully, that was just a temporary side effect of cosmetic acupuncture.

What Is Cosmetic Acupuncture?

You’re probably acquainted with acupuncture treatments for pain, sleep issues, and digestive problems. However, cosmetic acupuncture is distinct in that it purports to diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. The procedure has been nicknamed an “acu-face-lift,” emphasizing its focus on external appearance rather than physical well-being.

But can inserting a bunch of needles into your face genuinely have an impact on your skin? As I delved into the procedure, I became progressively more intrigued by this holistic approach to maintaining tight and plump skin (no surgery, no chemicals). Ever inquisitive about the latest developments in health and natural beauty and feeling acutely aware of the potential for wrinkles since turning 30, I resolved to give it a try — without intending to make a pun. I wanted to see what the procedure was truly all about and determine if it justified all the hype.

How Cosmetic Acupuncture Works

Right from the start, my acupuncturist acknowledged the supposed anti-aging effects of cosmetic acupuncture: “An acu-face-lift is the organic Botox,” he informed me with a grin as he began to insert needles into my face with remarkable speed.

Organic or not, needles are still needles, even if they are as thin as hair strands. Needles usually don’t bother me, but knowing that they were going into my face made me slightly apprehensive at the beginning. However, the procedure felt much less uncomfortable than the selfie made it appear.

Regardless of what you wish to accomplish with acupuncture, the process remains consistent: Needles are inserted into the skin at specific points in the body where vital energy is believed to flow (referred to as meridians), in order to enhance circulation, release blocked energy, and facilitate rejuvenation in the body, explains Josh Nerenberg, owner and acupuncturist at San Diego Cosmetic Acupuncture. In cosmetic acupuncture, the objective is to position needles around the face at pressure points to incite minor injury, which the body will respond to in order to heal, Nerenberg explains.

This minimal damage inflicted on the dermis is believed to stimulate the skin’s intrinsic repair mechanisms, encouraging cell regeneration, and consequently boosting collagen and elastin production.

More collagen and resilience in the visage equals reduced furrows and sleeker, more firmed skin. Reflect upon the procedure akin to the manner in which you generate minuscule ruptures in muscle fibers from exercise. Your physique responds to this novel trauma of power conditioning by mending and reconstructing the muscles employed to recover and return enlarged and more robust.

My Encounter with Aesthetic Acupuncture

After the needles were inserted into my visage, along with a few points on my physique to “soothe and purify other energy pathways,” I remained motionless for 30 minutes. When my time was up, the needles were swiftly withdrawn, and my therapy was concluded.

All in all, I discovered that aesthetic acupuncture is significantly less intrusive than what I imagine Botox would be. In comparison to Botox or other injectables, aesthetic acupuncture does not introduce any foreign substances into the body and, as mentioned, is believed to instead encourage the body’s innate resources in repairing signs of aging. It is also reputed to yield gradual, organic enhancements in contrast to those alternative, more invasive procedures. (Not to imply that those procedures aren’t valid options and that there aren’t alternative applications such as Botox for migraines.)

That being said, aesthetic acupuncture demands an investment of both time and money. A standard acu-facial program comprises of 24 sessions, with notable improvements noticeable by the tenth treatment and the results lasting for three to five years, as explained by my acupuncturist. It doesn’t come cheap: Prices fluctuate, but individual treatments at the acupuncturist I visited range from $130 for a single session to $1,900 for a 24-treatment package. To expedite results, cosmetic acupuncturists typically offer supplementary procedures that enhance the effectiveness of an acu-facial, including microneedling and nano-needling.

But is the cost justified? Does aesthetic acupuncture truly work? While some swear by its efficacy, concrete evidence is still lacking. Although one study discovered that aesthetic acupuncture “demonstrates promising outcomes as a therapy for facial elasticity,” further research is necessary to furnish us with more scientifically substantiated evidence regarding the procedure’s impact on facial tissue.

Proponents believe that aesthetic acupuncture also induces relaxation in visage muscles that tend to be consistently tense in our stress-laden world, encompassing tightened jaws and brow strain.

As for my perspective? Strangely enough, when I departed from the acupuncturist’s office that day, I felt as though I had a certain radiance. It was reminiscent of the sense of tranquility I experience after a massage or a meditation session — although I cannot determine whether this was due to the acupuncture or the fact that I was reclining for half an hour in the midst of the day (an infrequent occurrence for me).

Considering that I did not anticipate observable disparities in my facial appearance after just one session, it is difficult to ascertain whether a few more sessions would result in a reduction of fine lines. That being said, I did find the experience to be relatively painless and somewhat relaxing, prompting me to genuinely consider undergoing the treatment again.

If it diminishes the visibility of creases, excellent. However, even if it merely grants me solitude to realign my thoughts, I am fully committed.

Thank you for your input!