Cosmetic acupuncture uses fine needles on the face with the goal of reducing wrinkles, and contributing to a youthful appearance. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice of inserting and manipulating small needles into certain points on the body for various health reasons. While cosmetic acupuncture has been practiced for centuries in China, it has more recently become popular in the West as an alternative to cosmetic surgery.
People choose cosmetic acupuncture over other facial rejuvenation techniques because it does not involve any foreign chemicals, such as the botulinum toxin used in Botox, or the solution used in a chemical peel, and it is less invasive than plastic surgery. Cosmetic acupuncture also carries less risk than other procedures. It is meant to work by stimulating the production of collagen under the facial skin, filling out wrinkles and plumping the skin. It has also been reported to give the skin a brighter appearance and improved texture, and even to brighten the eyes.
Cosmetic acupuncture is also said to promote general health and well being beyond the appearance of the face. Acupuncture is said to work by balancing energy flow in the body, and therefore is believed to have wide-ranging effects, even if used for a limited purpose. Acupuncture meant to promote collagen production in the face may therefore help reduce insomnia or weight gain. On the other hand, acupuncture cannot produce drastic cosmetic changes such as those seen with a chemical peel, because the procedure itself is not as drastic.
Like other applications of acupuncture, the benefits of cosmetic acupuncture are not corroborated by modern Western science or medicine, and some claim that they are merely placebo effects. Most people who try cosmetic acupuncture report satisfaction with the results, according to surveys. Its drawbacks include the cost, which can exceed that of other options, and the time required for a session, which can reach 90 minutes. Also, the results of cosmetic acupuncture are not permanent, so upkeep is required.
Acupuncture is an invasive procedure, as the skin is penetrated, and therefore carries some risks. When performed by a well-trained practitioner, however, it carries much fewer risks than traditional surgery. Common risks are rare, minor, and temporary. They include bleeding at the insertion site, minor bruising, and dizziness. In very rare cases, if the practitioner is improperly trained, nerve injury can result, and disease can be transmitted through unsterilized needles.