During my last vacation in South Africa, my arm and shoulder practically seized up and the holistic healer that my friends sent me to promptly stuck some needles in me. It was my first (and only) experience of acupuncture and I was quite excited and curious about the procedure and whether it would have any effect. It turned out to be an astonishing success; with just one treatment, several weeks of growing discomfort and restricted movement were eliminated. So when someone on Twitter sent us a message about cosmetic acupuncture I wasn't totally skeptical.
I decided to do some research on acupuncture as an alternative to syringes and knives, but finding truly objective information proved harder than hunting needles in haystacks. The naysayers often make sweeping statements dismissing the whole practice of acupuncture as tantamount to nothing more than snake oil. Journalists often find plastic surgeons who are only too willing to rubbish the idea of an acupuncture face lift. Acupuncturists, on the other hand, claim that they can prick away sagging jowls, fine lines and bags under the eyes.
To deal with the naysayers first. I agree with them that the mumbo-jumbo about meridians, qi and channels is vague and implausible. Nonetheless, the anecdotal evidence of results, such as reduction of pain, is compelling (like me with my arm) and the World Heath Organization endorses acupuncture for over 20 conditions. As for the cosmetic surgeons, they are not likely to endorse something that would put them out of business. But, does that mean I'll be swapping my microcurrent facials for needles? Probably not.
For a start, I can't really see how acupuncture would, as it is claimed, stimulate collagen. Acupuncture needles - thankfully - do not cause the kind of punctures that, say, a dermaroller would and therefore the skin isn't being traumatized into producing new collagen. Similarly, there is nothing that I've found that could plausibly explain how gravity defying jowls are created. And even the proponents of the procedure admit that it works better on 30-somethings.
Having said all that, there are a couple of aspects of the treatment that could be helpful. We all carry tension in our faces, perhaps by clenching our jaws or squinting with every anxious thought. If needles can help certain muscles relax, continuous sessions may have some impact on fine lines. Secondly, the procedure could stimulate circulation and help the skin look clearer. Hmm, it might be worth a shot after all.
If anyone has tried cosmetic acupuncture, we'd love you to tell us about your experience.