Cosmetic acupuncture: what is it, does it work, the risks


  • Like traditional acupuncture, “cosmetic acupuncture” involves inserting tiny needles into the skin.
  • Also called facial rejuvenation acupuncture, it is believed to stimulate collagen and thus reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Although it does not replace Botox and lasers, it can be a great addition to your overall wellness routine.

You are probably at least somewhat familiar with acupuncture – you may not know exactly how it works, but you know what it is, right? However, the term “cosmetic acupuncture” may have you scratching your head. As the line between Western and Eastern medicine becomes more blurred, we are seeing increased interest in techniques that are new to us but not to the rest of the world, such as acupuncture. More people than ever are open to exploring new ways to harness their health and wellness.

Like traditional acupuncture, cosmetic acupuncture – aka facial rejuvenation acupuncture – involves the insertion of tiny needles into strategic points on the skin, except the traditional technique targets overall health, the cosmetic version focuses on the facial rejuvenation.

Below, an East Asian medical doctor and dermatologist explain more about the trend that recently hit the United States, including whether it actually works.

What is acupuncture ?

As we mentioned, acupuncture involves inserting very thin needles – we’re talking about 30 times thinner than the needles you encounter at a doctor’s office – at strategic points on the body. “Most people believe that acupuncture only treats pain; however, it has a myriad of other uses, including general well-being, stress management and fertility support,” Gudrun said. Snyder, an East Asian medical doctor and founder of Moon Rabbit Acupuncture, at POPSUGAR.

Depending on whether you follow more Eastern or Western medical practices, acupuncture is viewed slightly differently. “From an Eastern perspective, acupuncture is a technique for balancing the flow of qi, or energy, that circulates through the meridians of your body,” says Dr. Snyder. “By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture restores balance to overall health and well-being.”

However, from a Western perspective, acupuncture is said to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue to reduce pain and tension. “From a biochemical point of view, research results have demonstrated that acupuncture stimulation causes a release of endorphins, serotonin, enkephalins, γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA; a neurotransmitter major brain inhibitor), norepinephrine and dopamine,” says Dr. Snyder.

What is cosmetic acupuncture?

Now that we’ve laid the foundation, let’s dive deeper into cosmetic acupuncture, also known as facial rejuvenation acupuncture. According to Dr. Snyder, it works by stimulating the body’s natural collagen response, similar to microneedling. “Through the insertion of needles into the skin, microtraumas are created which can stimulate collagen production to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles,” said Ramya Garlapati, MD, dermatologist and certified makeup artist based in Los Angeles.

“This triggers a cascade of biochemical reactions that lead to increased blood flow, as well as an increase in collagen and elastin,” says Dr. Snyder. “Wrinkles are often created by a decrease in collagen and elasticity and the chronic overuse of certain facial muscles.”

It is also believed that cosmetic acupuncture can help relieve tension in overused muscles. “Instead of freezing them like Botox, it relaxes your face,” says Dr. Snyder. “All of this combined helps achieve a more youthful and glowing appearance.”

This is not to say that cosmetic acupuncture replaces Botox, microneedling, lasers, or any other cosmetic surgery treatment, for that matter. “There is limited clinical data to support these cosmetically beneficial claims with cosmetic acupuncture,” says Dr. Garlapati, adding, “It would not be as effective as these other cosmetic procedures in reducing fine lines and wrinkles and overall skin rejuvenation. the skin”.

However, if you are someone who does not want to do invasive procedures, facial rejuvenation acupuncture can be a great less invasive alternative for you to achieve some of the same benefits while enjoying health and well-being. -being of the whole body.

What to expect during a cosmetic acupuncture treatment

First step in trying cosmetic acupuncture: you need to find a certified and licensed acupuncturist. Once you have found someone to perform your treatment, you will want to meet with them to discuss your concerns and wellness goals.

Keep in mind that facial rejuvenation acupuncture is not a one-size-fits-all type of treatment. “The effects of cosmetic acupuncture are cumulative, so the more you do, the more lasting results you’ll see,” says Dr. Snyder. Treatments typically last between 30 and 60 minutes each, “depending on your skincare goals, the current condition of your skin, and your age,” says Dr. Snyder. “In general, we recommend multiple sessions – ideally 10 that are relatively close together (once a week or every two weeks) for best results.”

Although every location is different, at Moon Rabbit your acupuncture treatment ends with jade rolling, gua sha, or facial cupping.

Potential Risks of Cosmetic Acupuncture

If you want to try cosmetic acupuncture, the treatment is relatively low risk. Mild soreness, pain, bleeding, and bruising at the needle insertion site are all possible short-term side effects. “People who have bleeding disorders or take blood thinners should avoid this procedure,” says Dr. Garlapati.

Can you get cosmetic acupuncture along with other aesthetic treatments?

Current Botox and laser enthusiasts may be pleased to learn that you can try facial rejuvenation acupuncture alongside many of your existing aesthetic treatments, because “the overall mechanism of action for results potential is different between the two procedures,” says Dr. Garlapati. That said, you don’t really need to do everything. “Adding cosmetic acupuncture to these procedures wouldn’t provide much additional benefit in the overall results,” she says.

TLDR, cosmetic acupuncture can be ideal for those looking to tap into overall well-being while naturally boosting collagen – just be sure to manage your expectations for your treatments.


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