This post may contain affiliate links.
Is cosmetic acupuncture something you’ve ever been especially intrigued by? I don’t know about you, but having someone stick needles in my face sounds a little too extreme. Despite most people’s initial reservations, facial acupuncture is a real treatment that real people pay money to have done. If you are a big fan of alternative medicine, I owe you a disclaimer: I’m very suspicious by nature, and I don’t tend to trust most alternative medicine practices.
In this article, we will find out exactly how facial acupuncture is supposed to work, whether it actually works, what kind of skin issues cosmetic acupuncture can fix or improve, as well as all of the little details and safety concerns you might be curious about.
Cosmetic Acupuncture Guide: Contents
- What Is Facial Acupuncture/ Cosmetic Acupuncture, and How Do They Differ from Regular Acupuncture?
- What Issues Is Cosmetic Acupuncture Supposed to Solve?
- How Does Cosmetic Acupuncture Work?
- What Is a Cosmetic Acupuncture Session Like?
- How Often Is Cosmetic Acupuncture Performed?
- How Much Does Cosmetic Acupuncture Cost?
- Does Facial Acupuncture Hurt?
- Is Cosmetic Acupuncture Safe?
- Who Can’t Have Cosmetic Acupuncture Done?
- Pros and Cons of Cosmetic Acupuncture
In general, acupuncture is a practice in traditional Chinese medicine, where extremely thin needles are inserted into the skin. It is primarily said to help with pain management and nausea, although some practitioners recommend it for almost every ailment.
There has not been enough research to show that acupuncture is effective for almost anything except some forms of nausea. Anecdotal examples of its efficacy do exist, but personally I’m skeptical.
Facial acupuncture uses even thinner needles, which are applied to the face (especially along areas that are starting to wrinkle). Cosmetic acupuncture refers to any kind of acupuncture that can improve one’s looks so it can include facial acupuncture, although needles can also be inserted into other parts of the body.
According to the proponents of facial acupuncture, it can seriously help with the following concerns:
• Acne and acne scars
• Redness and sensitivity
• Loss of collagen leading to facial wrinkles and sagging
• Facial puffiness
The only two I could see cosmetic acupuncture helping are facial wrinkles and dullness, although I suspect microneedling or using retinol would be just as effective. A combination of treatments might also be a good route to choose.
Some of the underlying logic for how cosmetic acupuncture works makes perfect sense. When the needles are inserted into the skin, they create microtrauma that stimulates collagen production and overall repair – not too different from the way derma rollers work. This can have a positive effect on a lot of different skin issues.
However, practitioners also say that facial acupuncture works to regulate hormones, which lead to acne, or helps with an irritated gut lining, which can lead to a few skin issues. Since acupuncture is (supposedly) associated with better sleep, stress reduction, and improved digestion, then all of those health benefits will also present themselves outwardly.
There is no research corroborating these kinds of claims, nor a potential scientific explanation, so I would take that with a grain (or a spoonful) of salt.
Once you arrive at the acupuncturist’s office, they will ask you some background questions about your skin and overall health. They might make some lifestyle suggestions, especially if they are trained in other health or alternative medicine fields.
At this point they will also decide where to apply the needles. While facial acupuncture means the needles will go into your face, cosmetic acupuncture might mean needles will be applied to other parts of the body.
They will have you lie down on a treatment bed, and may or may not sanitize your skin (it’s okay either way). They will put the tiny needles into your skin (no worries – you’re probably not going to feel them!), and leave them for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.
An acupuncturist may use as many as 50 needles on the face, and more on the body. If they turn the lights off and play some soft music in the background, you might even fall asleep! Once the treatment is over, they will remove the needles, and you’ll be good to go!
Normally the recommendation would be a cosmetics or facial acupuncture treatment once a week for a couple of months, followed later on by monthly treatments for maintenance.
A session can cost between $80 and $500, although usually you can purchase treatment plans that will make each session cheaper in the long run. Some insurance plans cover acupuncture treatments, so you can inquire about that as well.
The needles are so tiny that for the most part, the answer is no, it does not hurt. If it does, it is just a very minor discomfort.
Assuming you go to a well-trained professional, acupuncture should be pretty safe. The needles have to be sterile, disposable, and single use, and the acupuncturist should wear gloves or sanitize their hands.
There is some disagreement whether the skin itself should be sanitized beforehand or not, but it seems as though it is not mandatory as long as the skin is clean, and there are no open blemishes or infection near the area that will be acupunctured.
Assuming the acupuncturist takes all of the safety precautions, you shouldn’t worry. If, on the other hand, the acupuncturist does not take these safety precautions, you risk both smaller infections and more serious, blood-borne illnesses.
Not everyone is recommended doing cosmetic acupuncture, and these are the cases when you shouldn’t consider this beauty treatment:
• Anyone taking blood thinners
• Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding
• Other serious illnesses might require consulting a doctor first.
So let’s break this down into the positives and negatives to summarize, because on the one hand…
• It is safe.
• It doesn’t hurt.
• It’s affordable compared to some other beauty treatments.
• Might be covered by insurance.
• It sort of works for premature aging.
• A good chance to address a few health issues at once.
• There is no proof that it works for most skin issues.
• Other treatments are likely to be more effective.
So in my opinion? Unless your insurance covers it, save your money and time, and choose proven skin care solutions to fix your skin problems.
Have you tried cosmetic acupuncture, and think I’ve totally missed the mark? Are there any alternative medicine practices that you do think work as beauty treatments? Let us know!
Photos via @jacinaacpuncture, @karelleiralde