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Before we begin this post, we want to emphasize that we do not offer these services at the clinic. We've simply had plenty of patients ask us about them and thought we would explain cosmetic acupuncture and other needling techniques for beauty. If you ever see someone with needles in their face in our treatment room, it is for a pathological condition such as facial pain, numbness, or paralysis and not for purely aesthetic purposes.
Acupuncture is best known for treating ailments like pain, allergies, or anxiety, but there has also been interest in using needles to enhance beauty. Every time a needle is inserted into the skin, the body sees it as a microinjury and increases circulation to the area involved. This is beneficial for something like an old injury producing chronic discomfort, but it also has implications for skin health and aging. Cosmetic acupuncture and microneedling are two of the most popular techniques that take advantage of this response, and they are each fairly different.
Cosmetic acupuncture is more in line with traditional acupuncture, and a treatment often incorporates acupoints on other parts of the body that are known to correct the underlying imbalances contributing to issues in the face. (For instance, there are points that influence imbalanced hormones and points that clear excess heat, both of which can impact skin health.) There are various techniques within the field of cosmetic acupuncture - everything from threading needles within wrinkles to simply using points across the face - but in general they involve inserting small acupuncture needles into facial skin and muscle tissue to stimulate collagen production and improve muscle tone. In this way, skin regains elasticity and the face can appear firmer, leading to a more youthful appearance. The increase in circulation to the area can also help the body fight the bacteria involved in acne or flush out any toxins building up in a blocked lymphatic system.
Microneedling, on the other hand, is not an acupuncture treatment and can be done at a spa, dermatologist's office, or even at home! Instead of using acupuncture needles, those practicing microneedling use tools that look like rollers, pens, or stamps covered in very, very short needles. The tiny needles don't penetrate as deeply as acupuncture needles, but because there are so many of them on the tool, more microinjuries will be created in the skin, increasing circulation, stimulating collagen production, and improving the absorption of beauty products applied topically immediately after the procedure. In this way, microneedling also produces a more youthful appearance, but its utility is not just for the face. Microneedling can also be performed on other areas of the body to even out discoloration, fade certain types of scars, and even promote hair growth.
If you're going to try microneedling at home, there are a few things to keep in mind. The most important is always safety: Make sure that you're effectively sterilizing your tool! It should come with instructions on how to prep your skin and the needles, but if it doesn't, do some research on Google, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. Also, some experts say that because rollers contact the skin at an angle, they might create more stress to it than a tool with a flat surface would. (Because of this, we personally recommend the brand Banish. Plus we love that they have plenty of testimonials and tutorials, as well as a product line made with natural ingredients instead of synthetic chemicals.) Finally, remember that although the "injury" created in the skin is very, very small, it is still an injury that needs to heal. Don't be too rough with skin after a session and don't use your device more than the frequency recommended by the manufacturer, i.e. Banish advises its users to microneedle no more than once per week.
With either technique, results take time. Both treatments involve building up the skin over weeks to months, and both have the potential to produce an infection if not performed in a sterile way. However, compared to other aesthetic procedures, the side effects of cosmetic acupuncture and microneedling are usually minimal, limited mostly to slight redness and/or sensitivity for a day or so. Acupuncture has safely and effectively been used for centuries to wake up the body's natural healing systems, so bringing needles into the realm of beauty just makes sense in our book!
If you're interested in trying Banish, you can get $5 off your order by clicking here and entering "beachside" as a coupon code during checkout. We've chosen to become affiliates with them after using their products ourselves - the needles are not painful but feel more like pressing Velcro to the skin than anything - and wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone considering at-home microneedling.
Kathleen Ellerie is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.