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Acupuncture has been a method of healing sports injuries and other ailments for centuries. But what about those pesky acne scars or wrinkles that you can’t seem to get rid of?

Registered acupuncturist Amrit Singh has the scoop on cosmetic acupuncture, and why it could be the solution to all of your skincare problems.

How does it work and what can it treat?

Cosmetic acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s natural production of collagen. Once the tiny needles are removed from the face, the body processes this as a type of “micro trauma” and it needs protein to rebuild the skin, which is called collagen. This treatment is effective because you’re training the collagen where to go and in this case, directly to your face. When you take collagen supplements, which are helpful, it will distribute to where the body needs it the most – bones, cartilage, muscles & tissue first. With cosmetic acupuncture we are training that collagen to come to the face first!

When you break the body’s skin barrier, it triggers the body’s healing response to send red blood cells and white blood cells to the area. When we use needles to do so, the micro trauma created also requires a protein to repair the “damage” and that protein is collagen. So YES! You can produce your own collagen, but your body isn’t just going to do it for you, you need something to stimulate it – cue the facial needles!

What are the long term effects?

This cosmetic treatment is an extension of traditional acupuncture. It’s said to naturally help make the skin look younger, smoother, and all-around healthier. And unlike injection procedures, facial acupuncture addresses not only signs of aging, but also the skin’s overall health. It works internally to optimize your health while simultaneously enhancing the appearance of your skin. Unlike Botox or dermal fillers, facial acupuncture isn’t a quick fix of any kind. The focus is to create long-term changes in the health of your skin and body, not short-term quick fixes. That means better collagen stimulation, a brightened skin tone, reduced jaw tension, and an overall softer appearance, on top of health benefits like reduced anxiety and tension. It can also get rid of acne scarring that you may have on delicate spots on your face as well. Acupuncture is a supportive treatment to overall health and anti-aging. You can get results quickly after a few sessions that will continue to last.

Does it hurt?

No! Acupuncture is not supposed to hurt. You might be picturing a syringe, but we’re using acupuncture needles, and they’re very different as they’re much thinner.

Facial needles vs. the ones used for sport injuries

The facial needles are very small and thin because the skin on the face is so delicate. On the body, the needles do tend to be a bit thicker, but we also might needle into the muscle a bit deeper as well to trigger localized healing and muscle recovery.

How long would you typically need to keep the pins in to see results?

Once the needles are in, we usually keep them there for about 20 minutes and that’s a full energy and circulation cycle in Chinese medicine. During that time people usually feel very relaxed and fall asleep!

Let’s get specific. Here’s how acupuncture can help specific areas:

Forehead

Many people begin to notice lines in the forehead during their first signs of aging and that’s due to an accumulation of facial expressions. Usually it’s the 11s, meaning the beginning of the eyebrow, and horizontal forehead lines, which in Chinese medicine are signs of excessive thinking and worry. We also do a point called yin tang which helps to regulate your hypothalamus and pituitary gland and is commonly referred to as the third eye, so it’s very relaxing.

Fine lines around the mouth

For many women, this is the second area of concern. They’re called naso-labial lines, or smile lines. The technique here is called threading the wrinkle, where we line up a few needles along the line to “fill” the area because we are stimulating collagen locally with each needle.

Facial scarring

Cosmetic acupuncture can help with facial scarring because we are basically “re-injuring” the area. Once an area on the body heals, the body will move on because it has so many other things to do – it’s not concerned with the appearance of the scar – even if we might be! So when we insert needles around scar tissue or acne scars we are telling the body to think about this area again and bring more collagen to it, which fixes it up a bit.

Is there anything that can be done in addition to acupuncture to enhance the results?

After cosmetic acupuncture, always finish with facial rolling. Rose quartz rollers help to cool the skin after and really train the collage where to go and shape the face. You can do this daily to yourself and it helps with smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, swelling and puffiness, and to drain your lymphatic system – it’s like foam rolling for the face!