Facial acupuncture creates tiny wounds on the face. The body responds by repairing them and this improves the overall condition of the skin. Acupuncture facials can deliver better long-term results than botox at a lower cost and less risk. Botox, however, delivers quick results whereas facial acupuncture needs more time to work. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know.
Acupuncture is a well-known form of traditional medicine. It started in China but is now widely practiced around the world. The original guiding theory behind acupuncture was that it could be used to realign the body’s energy flow or “qi”. Modern science now links its benefits to the stimulation of key bodily systems particularly the central nervous system.
Over recent years, acupuncture has been increasingly recognized for its beauty and wellness benefits. These two benefits essentially go hand-in-hand. In other words, your skin looks better because its overall condition has been improved.
This means that, despite the marketing, facial acupuncture isn’t just “cosmetic acupuncture”. Acupuncture facial rejuvenation (AFR) is a more accurate description. In essence, facial acupuncture creates “positive micro-traumas” on your facial skin. Your body responds by repairing these and this repair process rejuvenates your skin.
What to expect from a facial acupuncture treatment
There are basically two ways to approach facial acupuncture. One is to have a regular acupuncture treatment ending with the face. The other is to have an acupuncture treatment for the face alone. Which one is right for you depends partly on your worldview and partly on your goals.
If you view acupuncture as a combination of energy healing plus science-backed healing, then you might want to have a full-body treatment ending with the face. This will stimulate and balance the flow of energy throughout your body. Treating the face alone could lead to an energy imbalance. This could manifest itself in conditions such as headaches.
If, on the other hand, you’re all about the science, then it’s fine just to go for a pure facial acupuncture treatment. You might, however, still want to consider having a full-body acupuncture treatment. The reality is that most of us have persistent, minor issues with our bodies and bodily acupuncture can help to put them right.
Either way, once the practitioner comes to the face, you can expect them to make about 40-70 punctures. If you just want a cosmetic treatment, the average is about 50 punctures. It can take several sessions for results to become noticeable. You should allow 5-10 weeks assuming weekly/twice-weekly treatment. After that, however, a monthly session will generally be enough to maintain your gains.
The pain factor
Acupuncture genuinely isn’t painful. The needles are long but they are very thin and sharp so they basically glide into your skin. You’ll feel them enter. It’s a bit like being tapped on the face. You won’t, however, feel the same sort of discomfort you can feel with some injections. Remember, needles may look broadly similar, but they’re actually very different!
It’s advisable to speak to your doctor about acupuncture if you’re the sort of person who bruises or cuts easily. Bruising can be a side effect of any form of acupuncture. The good news is that it only happens rarely. What’s more, when it does happen, it tends to be very mild and heal quickly.
You’ll probably be quite surprised at how relaxing a facial acupuncture session is. It’s usually really easy just to zone out and let the therapist do their work.
Facial acupuncture versus microneedling
Facial acupuncture offers a broader range of benefits than microneedling. The headline benefit of microneedling is that it stimulates collagen production. Collagen is one of the key building blocks for the skin. The body’s ability to produce it decreases with age. This means that, the older we get, the more important it becomes to boost our body’s collagen levels.
You can boost your collagen intake through diet and/or supplements. This is, however, generally tied to eating meat products. If you want a meat-free option then you generally need to look for collagen-boosting treatments like microneedling. Increasing collagen levels benefits the overall condition of the skin, smoothing fine lines and reducing hyperpigmentation and (acne) scarring.
AFR does boost collagen (and elastin) levels but generally to a lesser extent than microneedling. It also stimulates your circulatory and lymphatic systems. The circulatory system carries nutrients around your body. The lymphatic system is the body’s cleaning mechanism. In other words, facial acupuncture is more of an all-around treatment than microneedling or microdermabrasion.
You will see some of the same benefits. For example, you’ll typically see a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and acne scarring. The improvements may, however, take longer to become visible. On the other hand, you can also expect to see broader improvements in the condition of your skin and the underlying muscles, particularly around the jawline.
Facial acupuncture versus botox
Facial acupuncture and botox can achieve similar results but they work in opposite ways and at very different speeds.
Essentially, facial acupuncture is about stimulating the body’s systems. In particular, it speeds up energy flow, circulation, and lymphatic drainage and boosts the production of collagen and elastin. As a result, it improves overall muscle tone and reduces wrinkles and lines.
Botox is about freezing muscles with the result that there is a reduction in the flow of energy, blood, and lymph to the injected area. It has no impact on the production of collagen or elastin. Freezing muscles causes them to relax and this smooths out sags, wrinkles, and lines.
In other words, facial acupuncture works by addressing the cause. Botox works by addressing the symptom. Facial acupuncture generally needs time to deliver meaningful results. You then need to continue with periodic treatments to maintain those results. Botox delivers results instantly. They do, however, wear off over time and hence need to be topped up.
Facial acupuncture can be used in combination with botox. Typically, you’d have facial acupuncture when you were almost ready for your next botox treatment. Then you’d use botox to “top up” the facial acupuncture. Over time, you may be able to decrease your use of botox or even eliminate it.