In a society obsessed with looking younger, it should come as no surprise that many are gravitating towards a more natural and “non-invasive” approach to having a youthful appearance. One of these approaches includes facial acupuncture.
While facial acupuncture has been around for centuries, with the first evidence of its using dating back to 50,000 years ago, it has gained popularity in recent times, often quipped as the natural alternative to Botox and fillers. When it comes to beauty maintenance, I tend not to invest a lot of time or money into it. However, with natural treatments and remedies, I am more inclined to try them. I did my research on facial acupuncture but truthfully I didn’t believe the benefits would be noticeable or external. I decided to give it a try, having very low expectations. I do acupuncture for my back and knee, so approached it no differently.
I booked a session through my naturopath, Dr. Erica Grenci (see link below for her contact information). I was shocked that after the first session, I noticed a significant difference in my skin. My skin tends to lose the luster in the winter so I was ecstatic that in the days following the session, I had a natural glow. Additionally my skin started to feel much tighter and free of any acne. Of course I booked another session a few weeks later and again the same results- my skin has been looking the best it has looked in years! I should add that in the last couple of months I’ve been more conscientious of taking care of my skin with a daily and nightly routine, a massive step up from washing my face in the shower and wearing moisturizer, if i remembered.
This then begs the question- what is facial acupuncture?
Facial acupuncture is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It incorporates extra fine gauge disposable needles inserted into the head, face and neck for facial anti-aging and facial rejuvenation 1,2. Anti-aging begins at the cellular level. Therefore, these needles are used to stimulate the skin cells by improving the “qi” circulation, and in turn this increased the production of collagen. Collagen is part of the connective tissue that keeps the skin firm and supple. Additionally, facial acupuncture may diminish fine lines and wrinkles, reduce age spots, decrease dark circles, clear acne, tighten pores, and improve elasticity of facial muscles.
It is important to remember a few things about facial acupuncture, including the managements of your expectations. The acupuncture points are chosen by a naturopath or someone licensed in the field. They choose these points based on the patient’s ageing process or health imbalances. This type of practice focused not just on the body, but utilized the mind, body and spirit connection. Furthermore, it compliments living a healthy lifestyle so nutrition, exercise, water intake, medication etc can all play a role in skincare. Your skin is the largest organ!
The scientist and researcher in me is unable to conclude this piece without providing some evidence based data on facial acupuncture. It doesn’t surprise me that there isn’t a significant amount of peer reviewed trials that explicitly demonstrates the effectiveness or even ineffectiveness of facial acupuncture. As is the norm with many alternative and complimentary studies, more rigorous research needs to be done. There is, however, some literature that shows a benefit to facial acupuncture.
A systemic review of any published data on the topic was done by Shin et al in 2018, specifically focusing on the effects and use of acupuncture for cosmetic purposes 4. The group reviewed 150 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 66 single-armed prospective trials done on cosmetic acupuncture. Of relevance, they noted 2 RCTs and 5 single-arm trials. Majority of these studies reported positive outcomes in terms of wrinkles, improvement to the skin, self-assessment to facial elasticity, all with tolerable safety. However, they concluded that the methodology of such trials should be more rigorous and more RCTs with standardized interventions are needed in order to provide sufficient evidence to support the effects of cosmetic acupuncture.
There is one study of note that shows the benefits of facial acupuncture. It was conducted in Korea whereby participants received five treatments over the course of 3 weeks. Their moire topography patterns (aka facial contours and measurements) was compared between various time points, and it was noted that there was a significant improvement to facial elasticity after facial acupuncture 3. While this is a small scale study, and the literature is lacking for more concrete evidence, it is still indicative that there can be a benefit from using facial acupuncture for skin rejuvenation.
Despite an abundance of peer reviewed evidence based literature, there is no doubt for me that there is a benefit to facial acupuncture. I would recommend, however, that before engaging in these treatments, you consult with your health care practitioner.
Dr Erica Grenci’s Contact :
- LaCova-Bhat, L. Facial acupuncture and facial rejuvenation. International Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine 2017; 6 (6): 205-207.
- Doran, V. An introduction to facial revitalization acupuncture. European Journal of Oriental Medicine 2007; 5(5): 4
- Yun et al. Effect of facial cosmetic acupuncture on facial elasticity; an open-label, single arm pilot study. Evidence based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/424313
- Shin et al. Acupuncture for cosmetic use: a systemic review of prospective studies. Journal of Cosmetic Medicine 2018; 2 (2):76-84.