When I was invited to do a series of facial acupuncture appointments, I’ll admit my first thought was, “I’m too busy to commit to a weekly appointment!” My next thought was, “I’m not getting any younger. What if it works?” See, facial acupuncture has been touted as a botox or facelift alternative. At 34, my first signs of aging are here, and even with a strict skincare regimen, a girl can always use a little more help.
What I didn’t expect from my appointments? Whole body care, stress relief, and a much needed check in with my well-being. Acupuncturist Melissa Tsai, L.AC., explains, “Facial acupuncture can be for anyone. The idea behind it is to treat the whole body, but with an emphasis on the face. Treatment not only improves muscle tone, but also improves circulation. Since puffiness and redness can make the skin look older, the increased circulation from acupuncture will help. People as young as their mid-20s can start getting treatment for preventative measures.” The needles also target existing lines to stimulate collagen, like a very specific version of micro-needling.
That age-old adage that beauty comes from the inside? That’s never been more true than in Chinese medicine. Melissa says, “Western modalities are great, but they are so specialized now that sometimes they miss the forest for the trees, so there's an organic need for more holistic medicine—people want a more general way to leverage the body's natural function to heal, and to stay healthy with lifestyle choices and diet, all of which Chinese Medicine emphasizes and supports.”
"Treatment not only improves muscle tone, but also improves circulation. Since puffiness and redness can make the skin look older, the increased circulation from acupuncture will help."
Melissa invited me to join her for a series of sessions at her Beverly Hills practice. She recommends 6-10 sessions, once a week, and then once a month after that for maintenance. After changing into a medical gown, I filled out an extensive questionnaire, answered Melissa’s questions about how I was feeling in my body, my specific concerns, and my stress levels.
Each week, after asking a few questions, looking at my tongue, and checking my pulse, she inserted very thin, single-use needles in specific acupuncture points and expression lines. She’d leave me alone to relax with spa-like music playing in a dim room, then returned to follow up with a gorgeous facial treatment using all natural skin care with an ice-cold jade roller or a gua sha tool. After, she would send me home with specific Chinese herbs depending on what was going on with my body.
It just so happened that we started these treatments at a time of very high stress for me. I was dealing with some family issues, and not doing a particularly good job taking care of myself. These sessions became an absolute lifeline. It was like visiting a doctor, nutritionist, therapist, and aesthetician all-in-one. A facial can feel like an indulgence, but this was head-to-toe, individualized care and stress management, with an extra focus on the skin. I left each week feeling lighter and more relaxed—and it showed on my face.[caption id="attachment_4478" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Before (with makeup on), and after (no makeup) 10 sessions of facial acupuncture.[/caption]
This is not a replacement for more invasive treatments, but between the focus on balancing my gut, reducing my anxiety, and stimulating my skin topically, I noticed an overall refreshed, healthy look. I don’t have deep lines to begin with, but the added circulation had an overall plumping effect that softened the appearance of expression lines, smoothed texture, and had a brightening effect on my tone. While not super dramatic, I felt wonderful and started getting lots of compliments on my skin.
Who is it for?
Anyone looking for holistic care with an emphasis on the face.
Who can’t do it?
Facial acupuncture is generally safe for everyone, but to be on the cautionary side, you should avoid it if you:
- are pregnant
- bruise very easily
- have high blood pressure
- severe acne
- have the flu or a cold
- have chronic headaches or migraines
- have major medical conditions like cancer or diabetes. (These patients should be evaluated closely and those conditions should be addressed first.)
What to look for in a practitioner?
Make sure the practitioner has a license in your state and specializes in facial acupuncture. Melissa adds, ”I think it's nice to find out what kind of products they use on your face—for instance, do they use anything with synthetic parabens or fragrance? Most of all, you have to feel comfortable with them.”
Learn more about Melissa Tsai at www.guideacupuncture.com