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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.”
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