ONE OF THE most well-known applications of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and a pain relief method utilised worldwide is acupuncture. Now the 5,000-year-old practice has evolved into a procedure for ageless wrinkle-free skin. It’s advocates include Meghan Markle and Gwyneth Paltrow. Known as Cosmetic Acupuncture, the treatment is hailed as "Better than Botox". Recently, as a result of stress, my skin was as bad as it gets, so I booked an appointment with Dr John Tsagaris, a leading TCM specialist and physician to find out for myself.
Unlike Botox or fillers (which I never tried either), beauty enthusiasts see Cosmetic Acupuncture as an all-natural, non-toxic treatment promising to smooth and refine the skin to reduce the visible signs of ageing. Inserting fine needles into specific trigger points on the face stimulates collagen production to promote the creation of new skin cells, improve circulation, tighten muscle tone, increase the volume of elastin, and enhance radiance. It also claims to counteract acne, uneven skin tone, puffiness, blemishes, and sagging skin.
For mature skin, Cosmetic Acupuncture focuses on 'supporting connective tissue, circulation and detoxification of the face' to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and deal with the underlying causes of facial blemishes.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), homoeopathy and acupuncture are centuries-old techniques that have been the answer for many people who distrust Western Medicine. Although it does not have scientific proof, acupuncture is, to many, a necessary form of healing and rejuvenation.
The practice is based on the belief that an energy, "life force" or QI – pronounced "chi" – flows through the body in channels called meridians. Acupuncture has crossed the line between East and West and is used widely in pain clinics and hospices to treat pain and musculoskeletal conditions. It is now so widely recognised that it is widely available in GP practices and within the NHS.
TCM has many accepted healing treatments ranging from general pain reduction to improving fertility and alleviating nausea. It is no longer confined to internal wellness; acupuncture has evolved and successfully transitioned itself as a go-to treatment in aesthetic beauty.
Tsagaris said, 'No matter who you are when your body gets to a certain age, you realise your body is a little more tired, and you don't spring back as quickly as you used to in your twenties and thirties.'
It begins with an overall health Q&A, tongue observation, pulse and facial structure, and check to help identify what's happening in the body; digestion, lungs, and liver function. 'Our organs are vital in premature ageing if they're not working optimally. Tsagaris uses fine, sterile needles inserted at specific sites around the face and body. After inserting the needles, he 'fine-tunes' them, individually probing the skin with each needle to intensify or release the stimulus it evokes on each part of the face.
Toward the end of the treatment, he did some cupping - an ancient healing therapy that uses a suction force to pull the skin upward. Tsagaris said, 'It boosts the effects of the acupuncture, giving the skin a healthy, radiant glow, improving skin tone and texture naturally – working from the inside out.'
Does it work?
How a face responds to a needle depends on the individual skin type. Research shows the mechanisms that acupuncture conveys in the face create meaningful results.
How long does cosmetic acupuncture last?
The effects last up to 3-5 years after a course of 10 treatments, with maintenance.
Is facial acupuncture Better Than Botox?
Cosmetic acupuncture, unlike Botox, can influence the long-term health of the skin rather than just the superficial signs of ageing.
To conclude, I wouldn't say I enjoyed the treatment because I'm not too fond of needles. Most people feel minimal discomfort during the insertion of the needles. I did feel them, so it was not pain-free for me but it was tolerable and I would happily do it again because of the visible positive results. Especially when my builder looked at me and said, 'Have you shaved or done something to your face because you look so much younger?'