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Can Cosmetic Acupuncture Really Be a Botox Alternative?

Cosmetic acupuncture, also known as facial acupuncture, is a non-surgical and non-chemical procedure aiming to stimulate blood circulation and enhance facial features and beauty. This cosmetic treatment originated from traditional acupuncture, part of Chinese medicine that helps treat headaches, body pains, and stress [1]. 

You can ask your practitioner to put some of these small and painless needles on your smile lines and you might see a difference after a couple of sessions. It is said to help the skin look younger, smoother, and all in all healthier. In addition, unlike injection procedures such as botox, cosmetic acupuncture addresses the skin’s overall health as well as signs of aging [1]: But can it really be a botox alternative? 

What Is Cosmetic Acupuncture?

Cosmetic or facial rejuvenation acupuncture entails inserting thin needles into specific points on the face to increase blood flow and stimulate collagen production, thereby improving the texture and appearance of the skin. In order to balance any internal disharmonies, points on the arms and legs are also used to avoid affecting the complexion and face. As a result, it adheres to the foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine and treats the individual holistically – body, mind, and emotions [2]. 

Facial acupuncture is mainly known to:

  • Help brighten the complexion and may help eliminate fine lines and wrinkles with results visible after a series of treatments
  • Reduce the bags under the eyes
  • Firm jowls
  • Eliminate puffiness
  • Lift droopy eyelids
  • Minimize double chins 

Other possible results include: 

  • Skin moisturization with increased local circulation of blood and lymph to the face 
  • Increased collagen production
  • Muscle tone and dermal contraction
  • Tightening of the pores 
  • Brightening of the eyes 
  • Hormonal balance improvement to help acne 
  • Stress reduction

While it does not produce the dramatic results of some invasive procedures, it may help the face look younger, healthier, and more radiant without the risks associated with those procedures [3].

How Does Cosmetic Acupuncture Compare to Botox?

What Is Botox?

Botulinum toxin type A, or Botox, is a prescription medication used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles by injecting it into facial muscles. Botox prevents muscles from contracting, resulting in a smoother and more relaxed appearance [4]. However, the effects are temporary and it cannot treat wrinkles caused by aging or sun exposure, nor can it reduce fine lines: it only works on dynamic wrinkles – smile lines and frown lines [3].

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The Effects of Botox Compared to Cosmetic Acupuncture

Botox usually takes effect between 24 and 72 hours after injection, with the maximum effect occurring between 1 and 2 weeks. Its effects usually last 3-4 months giving the face a more relaxed and smooth appearance when injected into the muscles that cause expression wrinkles [5]. 

Facial acupuncture, unlike injection procedures, addresses not only signs of aging and the smile and frown lines, but also the overall health of the skin. It works internally to improve your health while also improving the appearance of your skin [1]. Facial rejuvenation is not a quick fix. The goal is to make long-term changes in the skin and body’s health as mentioned in the results above, rather than short-term fixes [1]. 

According to one study, the majority of people saw improvements after just five sessions of facial acupuncture, but it is recommended that 10 treatments be received once or twice a week to see the best results. Following that, you can enter a “maintenance stage,” in which you will receive the treatment every four to eight weeks [6]. Later on, the effects can last up to 3-5 years [3].

Potential Risks and Side Effects

When it comes to Botox, there is a risk of paralysis of surrounding muscles and upper eyelid drooping. It only has a temporary effect and the more you get, the more you need to achieve the same effect; you may not be able to raise your brows or make other expressions [3]. 

Most people are safe to receive acupuncture treatments from a skilled, licensed practitioner who uses sterile, disposable needles. However, there are a few mild and insignificant risks and side effects to consider:

  • Soreness is quite common. 
  • Slight bruising or bleeding may also occur, particularly in people taking blood-thinning medications or who have severe blood disorders. These usually go away after a few days.
  • Deep-placement needles can occasionally cause internal injuries such as infections, collapsed lungs, and punctured lungs [7].

However, with all acupuncture, medical or otherwise, comes the following:

  • Potential bruising
  • Possible minor aches and pains in the hands and feet (around 24 hours)
  • Only minor infection risks exist because all needles are single-use and sterile [8].

Precautions

Cosmetic acupuncture is a non-invasive and safe alternative to traditional cosmetic treatments. It is critical, however, to only receive treatments from a licensed and qualified practitioner. 

Within the acupuncture session, the practitioners often finish by applying a serum or a moisturising cream to massage the face [9]. You can also implement, with the help of your practitioner, a skincare routine ideal for your skin and use Caudalie resveratrol lift, Valmont Prime Regenera, or Sisley Sisleÿa Radiance Anti-Aging Concentrate. It will help to give your skin the boost it needs, promoting a natural and radiant complexion after your cosmetic acupuncture session.

You should also inform your practitioner about any medical conditions or medications you are taking. You may experience minor redness or swelling at the needle sites following treatment, but this should go away quickly. It is advised to avoid alcohol and strenuous physical activity for the remainder of the day, as well as to drink as much water as possible to help flush out any toxins released during treatment [8].

Reference

[1] “What Is Facial Acupuncture? Skin Benefits, Cost, and Side Effects.” Healthline, 2 Mar. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/facial-acupuncture.

[2] “Facial (Cosmetic) Acupuncture Guildford Surrey – the Acupuncture Clinic.” Www.acupunctureme.co.uk, www.acupunctureme.co.uk/facial-acupuncture.

[3] “Cosmetic Acupuncture.” Renew Integrative Health, renewintegrativehealth.com/cosmetic-acupuncture/.

[4] “Botox Alternatives: 7 Wrinkle Treatments That Work.” Healthline, 6 July 2017, www.healthline.com/health/botox-alternative.

‌[5] “Botulinum Toxin Injections | the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.” Baaps.org.uk, baaps.org.uk/patients/procedures/4/botulinum_toxin_injections.

[6] Yun, Younghee, et al. “Effect of Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture on Facial Elasticity: An Open-Label, Single-Arm Pilot Study.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM, vol. 2013, 2013, p. 424313, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23983778/, 10.1155/2013/424313.

[7] “Acupuncture for Wrinkles: Benefits, Safety, and Results.” Www.medicalnewstoday.com, 27 May 2022, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/acupuncture-for-wrinkles.

[8] “Anti-Ageing Facial Acupuncture.” Ctchealthcare, www.ctchealthcare.co.uk/treatment/complementary/facial-aesthetic-cosmetic-enhancement-acupuncture/.

[9] Anna, Acupuncture by. “Acupuncture by Anna.” Acupuncture by Anna, acupuncturebyanna.co.uk/facial-acupuncture