A Natural Approach to Skin Care
What is Cosmetic Acupuncture?
Cosmetic Acupuncture, or Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is the practice of inserting tiny needles (0.12mm in diameter) into the layers just beneath the skin’s surface, as well as into the facial muscles that are responsible for producing facial expressions (mimetic muscles). A mixture of superficial (<1mm) and deeper needling (up to 5mm) are used to gain the best results from the various mechanisms that occur in the skin in response to the various needling techniques.
A special, spring-loaded needle injector is used to deliver the needle to the desired location on the face with accuracy and maximum comfort.
Acupuncture is a drug-free and natural skin-care option that has been shown to promote skin health, and may help to reduce the signs of ageing. While one of the aims is to promote your skin’s vitality to help retain its youthful look, acupuncture can also be used in the treatment of skin conditions such as acne and acne scarring, atopic dermatitis, urticaria, pruritus and eczema. There is no botox used and no harmful chemicals, just the innate healing mechanisms of your own body. Most patients experience little to no pain, and leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.
See below for more about how it works and what it can treat.
HOW IT WORKS
Collagen is the prime determinant for skin appearance and the main component of the extracellular matrix in mammals (1). It is produced and secreted by fibroblasts and is responsible for skin’s tensile strength and stability of the dermal tissue and blood vessels (2).
Use of micro needling (between 0.5mm to 1.5mm deep) has been shown to increase collagen production as a result of the physiological cascade of wound healing in response to the extremely mild trauma (3). This process has been found to take place up to 0.6 mm into the skin at the border between the epidermis and the dermis (4).
Micro needling of the skin has been found to promote the production of collagen, the most important factor for skin appearance.
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INCREASE IN HYDRATION
Moisturising of the skin is recognised as a primary means of anti-aging skin care, and important factors of skin moisture include water content, oil content and natural moisturising factors within the structure of the skin (5).
Results of a preliminary study indicate that one of the ways cosmetic acupuncture produces its effects may be by increasing the water and oil content in the superficial layers of the facial skin (6). It may also reduce levels of skin dryness by reducing heat produced by increased resting muscle tone that occurs as we age (7).
Cosmetic Acupuncture can increase the water and oil content of the skin and reduce levels of skin dryness.
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BENEFITS MUSCLE TONE
In youth, mimetic (facial) muscles possess a curved contour due to underlying pads of fat that also acts to provide fluid motion and support for the facial muscles (8). It is this contour and curvature that determines specific characteristics of facial muscle contraction that presents outwardly as a youthful facial expression (9).
According to MRI, the facial mimetic muscles gradually straighten and shorten as we age, and this may be a direct result of repeated muscle contractions over many years that dissipates the underlying supporting fatty tissue and contributes to increased resting muscle tone and rigidity of facial appearance (10). Cosmetic Acupuncture may help to improve facial elasticity by restoring healthy tone to the mimetic muscles, and surrounding supporting muscles of the head and neck (11).
Cosmetic Acupuncture can help to improve the elasticity of facial muscles and reduce the rigidity of resting muscle tone.
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ACUPUNCTURE FOR CHRONIC SKIN CONDITIONS
For centuries, Chinese Medicine was used to treat a wide range of skin conditions ranging from eczema, acne, psoriasis, alopecia and many others (12). While throughout this time is was understood that disease was caused by a disruption in the body’s energy (Qi) and vital substances (Yin/ Yang and body fluids) (13), modern research now provides a more intrinsic understanding of the mechanisms behind acupuncture and skin health.
Acupuncture may be used as a primary form of treatment, or in conjunction with treatment or medication prescribed by your dermatologist.
Research suggests that acupuncture can be an effective form of treatment for acne (acne vulgaris) (14, 15) by helping to reduce inflammation and the appearance of skin lesions and scarring (16)
Inflammatory Skin Conditions
A number of clinical trials compared within systematic reviews have shown that acupuncture can be beneficial for the treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema), urticaria (hives), pruritus (itchy skin)(17) and reducing skin itch in itch-related skin conditions (18).
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
Research suggest that acupuncture is an effective form of treatment for reducing itch intensity in eczema (19). Acupuncture has been found to significantly reduce type 1 sensitivity (the immune response that causes eczema) itch in patients with atopic eczema (20).
A pilot study has found that acupuncture actually reduces the concentration of blood serum levels of allergy-related cells called basophils that release chemical mediators, such as histamine, that are involved in the inflammatory process (21).
Best results for the reduction of inflammatory markers in the treatment of eczema with acupuncture occurred at around 5 weeks (33 days) following 10 acupuncture treatments (22).
Treating any type of condition can take time, and this is particularly true when it comes to treating the skin. As every person is unique in the way that they respond to treatment, an exact timeline of results is difficult to predict, however a basic guide can be provided.
For general facial rejuvenation, immediate results may be seen in the hours and days following the very first treatment. This may present in the form of softer, more supple and hydrated skin; a reduction in tension due to the relaxation of facial muscles
For inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), urticaria (hives) and pruritus (itchy skin), it is common to gain some initial relief from itching and reduction in redness from the first treatment, with extended relief occurring with subsequent treatments.
The goal being to extend the period of relief between treatments to then reduce the frequency to as-needed maintenance treatments.
Course of Treatments
For optimal results, it is advised that patients receive 1 – 2 treatments per week in the first 3 – 4 weeks to gain momentum and boost the body’s response.
Ideally this is followed by once-weekly treatments for a following 4 – 8 weeks. A consistent treatment plan of 12 weeks is advised in order to gain the most effective results.
Maintenance treatments may be administered as-needed after this at 2, 4, 6, or 8 week intervals depending on your response to treatments.
This is only a guide as some patients may require less or more depending on how they respond.
A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING
How Skin Ages
Skin ageing is closely linked with changes in skin quality and surface texture, and functional parameters such as sebum composition, inherent repair mechanisms and the immune response that occur as a result of external influences and mechanical stress (27). Influences on skin ageing can be divided into two main categories: intrinsic and extrinsic ageing (28). All aspects of these influences lead to reduced structural integrity and physiological function (29). People usually have skin that reflects various stages of extrinsic ageing superimposed on their level of intrinsic ageing (30).
Intrinsic (chronological) Ageing
Nutritional deficiencies have been connected with cutaneous signs such as dermatitis, cheilitis (cracked lips), angular stomatitis (cracks in corners of the mouth), alopecia (hair loss), and depigmentation. Dietary factors such as higher quantities of antioxidants may help to reduce the effects of ageing.