Hollywood celebrities are turning to acupuncture practitioners for anti-aging treatments, stress reduction, infertility, and relief for their aches and pains.
A few years ago, Gwyneth Paltrow and then later Jennifer Anniston were spotted on the red carpet with cupping marks all over their backs.
Acupunture benefits are long established and widely recognised.
In 2003, after a review of controlled clinical trials, the World Health Organization officially backed acupuncture as a medical treatment, listing a range of conditions for which it has proven effective—from depression to rheumatoid arthritis.
Traditionally, ultra-fine needles are placed at strategic acupoints on the body to manipulate the meridian channel network, utilising and regulating the flow of the body’s vital energy, or chi.
Acupuncturist Jo Curle, who works out of Heaton Acupuncture Clinic, is a member of the British Acupuncture Council and is the Facial Enhance UK affiliate for Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Jo explains, “Facial enhancement acupuncture (FEA) is for anyone who is concerned about the effects of the aging process on their skin. If we think back to all the moments we have spent stressed, worried, or angry, they accumulate and slowly alter the look of a youthful face. Lines appear, jawlines, eyes and muscles sag.”
Collagen production starts to deteriorate from the age of 26 and skin is often first to show the signs of aging. Environmental factors and pollution also dull the complexion over time.
While botox is a toxin that might have harmful effects, FEA is gentle and non-toxic. A course of treatment takes several weeks to administer, allowing the body time between sessions to build collagen and rejuvenate on its own.
“As we know, anti-aging is not just about wrinkles; sagging in areas like the jowls and puffiness of the eyes can lead to a less youthful look. Using fine needles to gently ‘pin back’ areas, we can retrain muscles to tighten. Again, in contrast with botox, we are not freezing that area, but rather getting it to work again,” says Jo.
Facial acupuncture is a combination of three parts. First, ultra-fine needles placed on systemic points activate muscles in the face and neck to lift, improve tone and increase circulation of the blood and lymph.
This helps clear the complexion, reduce redness and give a youthful glow. Second, much smaller, micro-needles are inserted into frown lines and wrinkles, causing a micro-trauma that stimulates the body to produce collagen to gently fill out the line.
The needles stimulate the skin’s self-repairing mechanisms, bringing all its healing potential to the surface of the skin.
They increase oxygen flow, stimulate micro-circulation to nourish the skin, and accelerate cellular waste elimination. And finally, regular acupuncture points on the body are used to promote general health and reduce stress.
Regarding the pain factor, Jo says, “Some of the micro needles do have the potential to produce a small nip, but the result is worth it.”
Appointments are always booked in blocks of six or 10, as the treatment builds up as the body responds. Jo asserts that FEA “is not a facelift, we’re not simply pulling back muscles, the results accumulate over time. Consistency is key: An appointment once a week has a snowball effect as collagen returns to the area.”
The ideal age to begin FEA treatment is in the early to mid-30s, as you can get back the lift that your skin is starting to lack. Kim Kardashian once posted a photo of her face studded with 19 tiny needles as she professed a new love for facial acupuncture.
Adding a comment alongside her selfie, she reassured her fans that the ancient beauty treatment isn't as painful as it looked “oh just relaxing…” she posted.
The author is Head of the Department of Acupuncture, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi.