Is Facial Acupuncture the new Botox?

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

This alternative medicine treatment is said to help with anti-aging and even acne. Acupuncturists and dermatologists weigh in.

A typical facial acupuncture treatment involves about 40 needles in the face and 12 needles on the body, though that can vary depending on an individual’s skin goals. Needles are left in the skin for about 20 to 25 minutes. Singh added that the treatment is part of a holistic approach to healing, as it’s said to be able to address skin concerns as well as things like digestive issues or anxiety.

“It’s actually quite a bonus, because you’re getting a beauty treatment, but we’re also working through your inner body systems at the same time,” she said.

Like acupuncture, this treatment has been around for thousands of years, but in the past it was typically reserved for the upper echelons of Chinese society. Now it’s becoming more widely accessible.

With all that being said, it should be noted that this form of alternative medicine hasn’t been very widely studied, so hard scientific data is lacking.

To learn more about facial acupuncture ― including how and if it works for anti-aging and acne ― we spoke to Singh, as well as fellow acupuncturist Kacie Krecolowich, a registered acupuncturist and founder of Silk + Palm in Toronto, and dermatologists Dr. Hadley King, Dr. Samer Jaber and Dr. Loretta Ciraldo. Read on to see what they had to say about it.

How does facial acupuncture help with anti-aging?

Collagen production slows down as we age, which can lead to fine lines, wrinkles and a decline in elasticity. Facial acupuncture is said to help with collagen production, which would, in theory, help treat and prevent the signs of aging.

Here’s what acupuncturists say about it:

Krecolowich called facial acupuncture “a natural facial rejuvenation treatment” that involves inserting acupuncture needles into specific points on the face.

Essentially, the physical act of piercing the needles into the skin causes microtrauma to the skin, “which signals your body to send collagen to that area to heal,” Krecolowich added. She also said the microtrauma helps to encourage blood flow and increase healing speed, which ultimately gives a “glow” to the skin.

What about acne? Can facial acupuncture help?

Aside from its supposed anti-aging benefits, facial acupuncture is also said to help treat and clear acne, even of the cystic variety.

Here’s what acupuncturists say:

People have acne for different reasons, whether it’s a slow digestive system, hormonal imbalances or just using the wrong products, Singh said. There are two ways facial acupuncture can help, she said.

“If it’s more of an internal condition, we’re helping to balance out hormones internally with the body points,” she said, adding that acupuncture points are on “meridians,” or energy lines that are connected to the body’s organs. To treat skin conditions, acupuncture points are stimulated along the arms, legs and torso, according to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.

In a more physical sense, Singh and Krecolowich said that acupuncturists can also surround a breakout with needles to help with the blood flow and healing response in that specific area.

“When you’re putting needles around the breakout, your body has to think about that area more again, so it’s going to send more blood and more white blood cells to the area, which is going to ease the bacteria under the skin that’s also causing the acne,” Singh said.

Krecolowich added that surrounding the breakout can help shrink it or, sometimes, clear it up completely. The technique also helps to build back collagen where scars develop and help with hyperpigmentation, she said.

Here’s what the dermatologists say:

The idea of using facial acupuncture as part of a self-care ritual that promotes relaxation and peacefulness is something King believes is “very good for the body and for the stress levels.”

“Anything that’s good for stress levels is going to be good for health of the body, health of the skin and any skin condition that gets worse with stress, like acne,” she said.

Jaber was in agreement, saying he thinks acupuncture is helpful for decreasing inflammation and stress, which “could certainly benefit skin conditions like acne that are worsened by stress.”

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