Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Acupuncture Facelifts – Do They Really Work? January 5, 2012

In the quest to look younger many women turn to surgery, skincare products, and injections.  I’m all for looking your best because when you feel that you look good those positive feelings radiate out into the rest of your life.  The traditional Western ways to stay looking young involve injectable fillers, Botox, and even cosmetic surgery but it turns out that there are other ways to look younger such as trying facial acupuncture.

Personally, I am a very strong believer in acupuncture.  I have been going regularly to an acupuncturist for over a year and a half and love it.  I love acupuncture because it helps me with stress relief, PMS relief, and overall well-being.  Also acupuncture treats the body as a whole and does not separate emotional wellbeing from physical wellbeing.  I think a holistic outlook on health, including skincare health and beauty, is important.

What is Acupuncture?

Here is a great summary of what acupuncture is and how it works:

Traditional  acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of natural medicine that dates back  approximately 5,000 years. It has developed from careful observation of the  workings of the body and how the environment affects it. The principle behind the  medicine is to view and treat the body, mind and emotions as a single unit,  working on the cause of the illness, not the  symptoms. In many countries it is a primary form  of health care; in the hospitals in China it  is used directly alongside Western Medicine.
Here is a simple analogy to get a basic understanding of how our body is viewed in Chinese Medicine: Think of the body as a complex system of water pipes which need to be in good health for     everything to work smoothly. When a blockage develops in a pipe somewhere it affects the workings of the entire system and generates symptoms. This is akin to what happens when an injury or     disease affects our body. These “pipes” which run all over our body are called meridians. The “water” which flows through them is named Qi (Chi). The Chinese mapped out these meridians over the course of almost a thousand years. By inserting a needle into specific points along these pathways, the blockages can be removed and harmony returned to the body. Whilst  several research studies are being performed to explain how Acupuncture works  in a Western Medical Framework, these scientists have not yet been able to  explain how it works exactly; however, they have provided solid evidence that  acupuncture does in fact work very well.

The benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine are:

• Drug-free pain relief without the side effects

• Boosts the immune system against disease

• Treats the cause as well as the symptoms

• Effectively treats many common ailments

• An all natural form of Medicine

• A good form of maintenance and prevention

• Can prevent chronic conditions from further deteriorating

 (Source:  Traditional Healing Acupuncture Clinic)

Facial Acupuncture 

How exactly does facial acupuncture work?  According to Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, one of the leaders in practicing and teaching facial acupuncture in the US, facial acupuncture is:

… a safe, painless and effective treatment for renewing the face as well as the whole body. Fine lines may be entirely erased, deeper lines reduced and bags around neck and eyes firmed.

Fine needles are placed at a variety of acupuncture points on the face, neck and around the eyes to stimulate the body’s natural energies, or Qi. Since muscle groups are addressed as well the acupuncture points, the face lifts itself, via the acupuncture points, through the muscles’ toning and tightening action. The needles also stimulate blood and circulation, which improves facial color.



  • Improves acne (caused by hormonal imbalance)
  • Helps menopause, perimenopause, PMS and other GYN issues
  • Helps sinus congestion and headache
  • Improves hyper- and hypothyroidism
  • Reduces symptoms of toothache, TMJ, trigeminal neuralgia, and Bell’s palsy
  • Helps headaches (except severe migraine)
  • Treats diarrhea and constipation (most digestive issues)
  • Helps to eliminate edema and puffiness
  • Benefits eyes, ears and brain
  • Can help insomnia and dizziness
  • Helps depression and aids self-esteem


  • Improves collagen production and muscle tone
  • Helps reduce bags and sagging tendencies
  • Helps eliminate fine lines and diminish larger wrinkles
  • Helps reduce double chin and lift drooping eyelids
  • Improves metabolism
  • Tightens pores and brightens eyes
  • Increases local blood and lymph circulation
  • Improves facial color
  • Reduces stress and promotes total health and well-being

Short and Long-Term Effects of Facial Acupuncture

After the first treatment, one usually observes an increased glow to the complexion, the result of increased Qi and blood flow to the face. The person’s face appears more “open”, there is a clarity in the eyes (“clear Shen”), and the patient appears to be more rested; wrinkles start to lessen and the skin appears more toned.

A significant difference in their appearance can be ascertained following the 5th to 7th treatments; even more marked changes in wrinkles, skin tone, etc. The impression of relaxation and calm is more pronounced; they appear as if they have returned from vacation. Lifting of the jowls, neck and the eyes has begun and is usually noticeable. With continuing treatment, constitutional issues like digestive complaints have been ameliorated or subsided.

By the end of a series, the patient should look and feel 5-15 years younger. These results may vary slightly, depending upon how well the patient has taken care of themselves during the process, and afterward. At this stage, booster treatments provide ongoing support within a normal process of aging.

If you are interested in pursuing facial acupuncture as an anti-aging method be aware of the fact that there is quite an investment of time required to see results.  (This is true with any acupuncture treatments since Traditional Chinese Medicine works differently and more slowly usually than Western medicine techniques and medications).  Once again according to Mary Elizabeth Wakefield:

How Long is the Treatment?

Constitutional Facial Acupuncture™ involves the patient in an organic process, in which a series of treatments is necessary to achieve maximal effect. After an initial session, practitioner evaluates the patient’s response, and then can determine the number of follow-up visits that will be required:

After this evaluation, and taking into consideration other variables such as stress, diet, lifestyle, genetic inheritance, proper digestion and elimination, sleep, emotional balance, and age, the following durations of treatment are customarily recommended:

  • Usually 12-15 treatments;
  • 20 treatments for smokers or people whose skin tends to sag, i.e., who manifest jowls, “turkey wattles,” droopy eyes, etc.

It should be noted that age is not as crucial as might be estimated; an older patient with a healthy lifestyle may in fact have a better prognosis than a younger person who is prone to dissipate themselves.

Treatment Timeline:

  • 2 times a week (if possible), for 45 minutes to 1 hour; or
  • 1 treatment per week, 90 minutes

Maintenance Treatments:

Within the normal parameters of aging, the completion of a series of treatments should be effective. To ensure the persistence of the results, ongoing maintenance treatments are recommended:

  1. Every 2 weeks for 2 months following the completion of a treatment series, then once a month for an indefinite amount of time;
  2. Of course, the patient can also embark upon a subsequent series after a week’s respite

Cost of the treatments varies widely according to who you go to and where you live, but overall investing in this treatment could be less costly in the end than getting surgery or regular fillers and Botox (or both).

Of course not everyone is so gung-ho about facial acupuncture as an anti-aging cure-all:

Rhoda Narins, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, says she thinks acupuncture has its place, especially as a pain reliever. But she doesn’t believe in it as a replacement for cosmetic treatments such as surgery, Botox injections, and the like. “Acupuncture doesn’t stop the muscle movement that creates lines,” she says. “Botox does.” Nor can acupuncture tighten or “fill” the skin as surgery or injectable fillers such as Restylane can.

Too many “extreme makeovers” on television are leading many of us to believe that a new look is a no-muss, no-fuss proposition. “That’s just not the case,” says Narins. “Changing your appearance is not something that should be taken lightly.”

(Source:  Acupuncture: The New Facelift?  WebMD)

If you feel that you want to try facial acupuncture you can find an acupuncturist through Mary Elizabeth Wakefield’s referral list.

Further Reading (and lots of first hand accounts from those who tried facial acupuncture):

Photo from


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