One of the most popular purposes of acupuncture nowadays not only in the United States but all over the world is cosmetic. This trend is not new, and for facial rejuvenation acupuncture was used the moment it appeared 2,000 years ago. But back then in China only the wealthiest used cosmetic acupuncture. In our time, however, acupuncture for facial rejuvenation has become available to anyone who wants or needs it, in the east and west. The only difference is, in the past the needles were made of bones, stone, or bronze, were quite thick, often dull, and caused a significant degree of discomfort—to say the least! But today, due to modern technological advances, the needles that acupuncturists use for face are made of stainless steel, are sharp, are much thinner than they used to be (they are only a little thicker than a human hair), and do not cause pain.
Traditionally, the acupuncturists would take their patients’ pulse, look at their tongues, and ask them lots of questions about their lifestyle as well as sleep and dietary habits. In fact, it may have seemed that the acupuncturists tried to treat everything but the face! The reason for such an impression was that acupuncture for facial rejuvenation was essentially a beneficial effect of the same natural medicine and traditional Chinese medical approach to restore and maintain the optimal balance among organs, thus keeping the entire organism in its best possible naturally-occurring health, which will manifest itself in the healthy look of the face. You must have noticed that when people are tired, sick, lack sleep, eat too much or too little, then their faces change in color, shape, or texture. Ancient Chinese tracked these changes in the face to specific organs and their functions, which are addressed during acupuncture treatment. This tradition is still maintained today, and acupuncturists typically try to regulate their patients’ organs so they would be in best balance possible, thus expanding facial acupuncture benefits far beyond the face. At the same time, acupuncture for facelift can also be effective, and for a faster result the two approaches can used together. For this reason, the needles are placed not only in the face but also in the extremities and the torso, but the exact point selection varies greatly, depending on the constitution of an individual patient and specific needs at the time of treatment (Doran, 2007).
Research has shown that acupuncture as facial rejuvenation treatment works primarily by increasing the blood flow to the muscles, skin, and connective tissues of the face, which leads to wrinkle reduction. Since blood contains all the necessary vital nutrients, hormones, oxygen and life force (qi), it will revitalize tissues that it infuses. Some studies, however, have found that there are other biochemical mechanisms, besides the increased blood flow, that occur during a acupuncture facial rejuvenation treatment. The treatment can also create a more healthy color, texture, and elasticity of the skin of the face, which is partly due to collagen and elastin proteins induction that occurs because of needling into the more superficial dermis (Kingston, 2016). In addition to diminishing fine lines and wrinkles, acupuncture for facial rejuvenation can also reduce age spots, increase moisture, decrease puffiness under eyes and of the entire face, increase facial tone, tighten pores, and improve elasticity of the facial muscles (LaCova-Bhat, 2017). And other than occasional slight bruising, acupuncture carries virtually no risks or side effects (Doran, 2007).
What makes acupuncture stand out from other methods used for facelift is precision. Gua sha or acupressure, for example, can also increase the blood flow in the face, but only acupuncture can be used to address each wrinkle as well as even small regions within wrinkles. (While here we discuss only acupuncture, at the Advanced Holistic Center, we use other techniques along with acupuncture to help our patients achieve maximum results.)
Acupuncture is natural medicine, and its effects are cumulative and continue to progress throughout the course of treatment. Moreover, because of the traditional Chinese medicine’s holistic angle, patients can expect overall rejuvenation, not only of their faces (Doran, 2007). Traditionally, acupuncture relies on complex methods of Five Elements and Zang Fu organs for establishing a differential diagnosis for each individual patient. These methods have been refined and blended with the relevant scientific discoveries in China as well as other countries, and at the Advanced Holistic Center, we try to do our best to use the most effective and reliable methods available—ancient as well as recent but often combining the two—for our patients (Adkins, 2013). The treatment benefits may include elimination of some wrinkles and decrease in length and depth of others, decrease of facial puffiness and acne, improvement of facial muscle tone and skin texture with tighter pores, and decrease of sagging around the eyes, cheeks, chin, and neck (Barrett, 2005).
Undergoing facial rejuvenation in NYC or Miami can be challenging, considering the long hours that many New Yorkers and Miami residents work and the 10 to 60 acupuncture sessions recommended for optimal results (Emami Razavi et al., 2019; Doran, 2007), and in order to help our patients overcome these and other challenges, the Advanced Holistic Center is conveniently located near the subway in New York City and works longer hours than many other acupuncture clinics that offer cosmetic acupuncture in NYC.
Finally, let’s look at the most important issue that anybody who is considering having a face-lift using acupuncture: what will the face look like if compared with the western methods? Botox and collagen injection tends to make the face look like a mask. Of course, if only small areas of the face were injected, the results are not as mask-like as they are produced by larger areas, but the effects that traditional Chinese medicine produces are much different. The face will look more real, and the facelift occurs more gradually. While the wrinkles are rarely gone, they do become less visible, and the face usually looks healthier. At the same time, the results vary among individual patients. While some respond really well to the treatment, and their appearance becomes much younger, other patients have only modest improvement. These differences have also a lot to do with various innate qualities, which are difficult or even impossible to modify non-surgically. People who know the TCM facelift well typically begin their treatment by coming in for therapy 3–5 times a week for 3–4 weeks, but then, once they achieve the look that they want, they come in about once a week to maintain their appearance. In any case, we strongly recommend the classical approach, in which the entire body is treated holistically, and the face is additionally—rather than exclusively—addressed.