The use of Botox and dermal fillers to help treat facial wrinkles and sagging skin carries certain risks. Allergic reactions, pain, and swelling are common, and more serious side effects can occur. Facial rejuvenation acupuncture stimulates the body’s own production of skin-supporting collagen instead.
An Interview with Gudrun Snyder
Gudrun Snyder is the founder of Moon Rabbit Acupuncture in Chicago. We spoke to her about the procedure.
Many people have a fear of needles. How do you ease those fears when a patient schedules a session?
One of the most common questions we receive is “does acupuncture hurt?” The short answer is it depends, but overall acupuncture should not be painful. First, it is important to know that acupuncturists use hair-thin needles that are 30 to 40 times thinner than anything you would experience at your physician’s office.
I usually show our most apprehensive patients what the needle looks like, and they immediately breathe a sigh of relief, exclaiming “I had no idea the needles are so tiny!” They are so thin that some patients report not even feeling them go in. That said, everyone has a different sensitivity to touch and pain. Most likely, when you get acupuncture, you will feel it, but it shouldn’t hurt. Often people feel a sense of calm once the needles are inserted, and some even fall asleep!
Tell us how a typical facial acupuncture treatment works.
Cosmetic acupuncture, aka facial rejuvenation acupuncture, works by stimulating the body’s natural production of collagen. Similar to microneedling, it creates microtraumas in the skin and triggers the body’s natural healing response. This starts a cascade of biochemical reactions that result in increased blood flow, as well as increasing collagen and elastin. Wrinkles are often created by a decrease in this collagen and elasticity and by the chronic overuse of certain muscles in the face.
Often, we have a facial expression that we make that is uniquely our own, whether it be smiling more on one side than the other or furrowing the brows. Cosmetic acupuncture relieves the tension of these overused muscles—so instead of freezing them like Botox, it relaxes your face. All of this combined helps achieve a more youthful, glowing appearance.
At your first appointment, you will meet with your acupuncturist to discuss your health concerns and wellness goals. Depending on your skin care goals, current skin situation, and age, your treatment will be between 30 and 60 minutes. Primarily we treat fine lines and wrinkles, scarring, and minor to moderate acne. In general we recommend multiple sessions—ideally 10—that are relatively close together (one time per week or biweekly) to achieve the best results.
At every cosmetic acupuncture treatment with Moon Rabbit we also treat your overall well-being goals. Because, as we all know, beauty really does come from within, and when you aren’t feeling your best, you can’t look your best. The treatment is completed with either jade rolling, gua sha, or face cupping accompanied with the application of a facial serum chosen for individual needs.
How long do the effects of facial rejuvenation acupuncture last?
The effects are cumulative, so the more you do it, the more lasting results you will see. Some people report up to five years of lasting change after their initial 10 sessions, with only monthly or seasonal tune-up sessions.
After the first treatment, the results will be subtle and you should expect to see an improvement in skin tone, texture, and overall glow due to improved circulation. As you progress in your treatments, you may notice a reduction in fine lines, puffiness, and, as a bonus, better sleep and overall health.
In an ideal world we like to see you twice a week for a total of 10 sessions. I have patients who report incredible results by coming for every-other-week sessions ongoing. One patient (a former Botox lover) even reported that when she went to get additional Botox, her injector said she didn’t need anything done. All due to acupuncture and her ongoing wellness and beauty routines!
What are the risks associated with conventional cosmetic procedures?
So many women (and men!) are feeling the pressure to have a youthful appearance, thus the surge in Botox, fillers, and other facial treatments and plastic surgery. There are many risks associated with injections, chemical peels, and other beauty treatments. I leave it up to the medical experts who work with these systems to discuss in detail what the specific risks are, but as an Eastern medicine doctor we look at beauty holistically and try to offer an alternative to some of the more risky treatments that are available.
Are there side effects from facial rejuvenation acupuncture?
The wonderful thing about facial rejuvenation acupuncture is that it addresses wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness, but it does not have the relatively more risky side effects associated with Botox, fillers, or surgery.
The most common side effect for facial acupuncture is bruising. This usually resolves within a few days. Additionally, unlike Botox or fillers, cosmetic acupuncture is not a quick fix. You should not expect to see drastic changes in your appearance after your first treatment. The idea is to create small changes over time that lead to long-term changes in your skin and body’s health.