You may think that using acupuncture for cosmetic purposes is a modern-day trend, but it is not so. Acupuncture—as well as other modalities of traditional Chinese medicine—have been used for appearance enhancement as long as it has existed (Pan, 2021). Chinese elite turned to traditional Chinese medicine practitioners with requests to make their youthful appearance last longer, and the practitioners obliged. And since their clients could pay well, the acupuncture practitioners put much effort into finding effective ways to use acupuncture for cosmetic purposes. They used acupuncture, nutrition, herbs, therapeutic exercises, tui na, gua sha, and everything else that may help them to slow down the aging process, and over the thousands of years accumulated significant knowledge and experience. Nowadays, more people can afford and want to spend more time and money on taking care of their appearance than they did in the past, and the popularity of cosmetic acupuncture has been growing in the United States as well as other countries (Shin & Lim, 2018).
Because traditional Chinese medicine, whose part is acupuncture, is a holistic method, the goal is to identify the type of imbalance among the organ systems that an individual has in the lieu of diagnosis and then to restore the optimal balance using specific point combinations or herbal formulas in the lieu of treatment. When the balance among the organs is restored and maintained, the person’s physical appearance should become as good as it can naturally be. Oftentimes, combining acupuncture, tui na, herbal medicine, and possibly gua sha lead to better outcomes than each modality can alone. Modern technological advances allow acupuncturists to increase the effects of specific factors, such as precise stimulation, with or without electricity.
Despite being around for thousands of years, cosmetic uses of traditional Chinese medicine have changed over time, and these changes have been particularly dramatic in acupuncture. Archeologists discovered that the earliest acupuncture needles were made of stone, and they were particularly thick. During the Qin and Han Dynasties, Chinese had improved their smelting technology and began manufacturing needles from bronze, then from iron, gold, silver, and other metals (Zhu, Li, Yang, & Liu, 2021). The thickness of the needles began decreasing, but nowadays acupuncture needles have become thinner than they could have ever been. In fact, those needles that are used for cosmetic purposes are slightly thicker than a hair, and acupuncturists actively search for new ways to make cosmetic acupuncture even more effective.