If you have ever been a patient of mine, you know that I call the acupuncture needles “pins.” I do that because needles have a bad connotation and acupuncture truly doesn’t feel like being poked for blood or for an injection. In fact, the acupuncture pins have a different structure from traumatic needles and therefore a different effect on the skin. If they really felt like needles, acupuncture would not be offered at spas and would likely not result in people falling asleep during treatments. Believe me, I hate needles too!
I care a lot about my skin and aging gracefully, but I have always just maintained it with proper skin care habits, products, and routine facials. However, as you get older, you naturally start to see changes in your face. It can be concerning, even scary! So, what can we do about it? What can we do without costing thousands, without torture sessions, and without serious risks?
Acupuncture is used widely in the cosmetic industry, for purposes ranging from eliminating fine lines, fading dark spots, and clearing skin, to firming abdominal sagging and reducing cellulite. In fact, this is the only cosmetic procedure that actually improves the health of the patient, and that is why I am so passionate about this technique. Many patients report improved digestion, elimination of mild depression and anxiety, reduction of night sweats or hot flashes, increased energy, and an enhanced sense of well-being. That’s is why I am so passionate about this technique.
(Image by Martha Lucas, PhD, LAc)
While there are different types of cosmetic acupuncture, my training is in the Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture System™ which is widely and safely used in many countries. Cosmetic acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny single-use acupuncture pins in specific areas of the face and body. In my clinic in Mesa Arizona, we aim to make it as comfortable as possible while you rest in a private room, listening to whatever music or audiobook you like.
How does acupuncture work to improve the face? When the pins are placed into the skin, it causes small micro-tears which then stimulate the production of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are cells that produce the proteins collagen and elastin. The body is comprised of 30% collagen – hair, nails, skin, joints, etc. As we age, we have decreased collagen production, which is one of the main reasons we get wrinkles.
How do we get more collagen protein in our body? Instead of eating a plateful of cartilage and ligaments, I prefer to drink bone broth or even easier, a powdered form of collagen you can buy. I look for collagen from grass-fed beef like Zint or Ancient Nutrition brands. They are virtually tasteless and can easily be dissolved into your coffee, juice, or smoothie. It absorbs even better in the body when taken with vitamin C. You can also buy collagen tablets, but it is unclear how easily the tablets dissolve and where they are absorbed in the digestive tract, so I prefer the powdered form.
The interesting effect of stimulating this extracellular matrix with the acupuncture pins, is that it creates a wide effect throughout the skin. This is why the acupuncture points chosen are in very specific locations on the face, often near muscle attachments.
How long do the effects last? The Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture System™ protocol involves at least 10 sessions, performed twice a week for 5 weeks. The results can last up to 3-5 years with proper maintenance. A monthly “tune up”, or at least three in a six-month period, is recommended to help maintain your results and more youthful appearance.
Besides the pinning part of the procedure, I will talk with you about skin care, nutrition, and supplements that will help you achieve and maintain the best results possible. I may also recommend herbal medicine formulas.
If you are interested in cosmetic acupuncture, I would be happy to show you more before and after pictures.
Erin West is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and licensed acupuncturist in Gilbert, Arizona specializing in pain and infertility. She loves sharing her passion for natural approaches to health through her online articles and at her clinic, Emend Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, at America’s Health Center on South Val Vista Drive. Call for an appointment at 480-788-1757.