Does cosmetic acupuncture actually work?

Everything you need to know about the celeb-approved skin treatment

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / April 02 2019

You’ve probably heard of (or maybe even tried) acupuncture for pain relief, but what about an acupuncture face lift? Because if you haven’t heard of it, you soon will. Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian all swear by the technique as a natural alternative to cosmetic injectables.

Cosmetic acupuncture, also known as facial acupuncture, is a non-invasive treatment that involves inserting tiny needles into the skin to boost blood circulation and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. It may sound scary, but it can actually create an instant lift over time, erase fine lines and wrinkles, and even help acne. What’s more, this scientifically-proven technique is completely natural, safe and relatively pain-free.

We spoke to Doctor Vivian Tam (CM), founder of Cosmetic Acupuncture Melbourne and Zilch Acne Formula, to find out more about facial rejuvenation acupuncture.

What’s involved?

Cosmetic acupuncture usually starts off with a consultation, where your skin specialist will assess your skin and discuss your concerns. Dr Tam says your overall health and wellbeing is also assessed in order to determine any internal health imbalances. “We believe whatever is happening internally is reflected by the external appearance,” says Dr Tam. 

“We then move onto doing some gua sha massage (using a jade beauty tool).” Ultra-fine painless needles are then used on facial acupuncture points, which are selected depending on your specific skin needs. “You then lie down and relax for 20-25 minutes to let the needles do their magic - this is super relaxing,” notes Dr Tam.

What are the benefits?  

While traditional acupuncture is used to treat a variety of concerns such as weight loss, back pain, anxiety and even fertility issues – face acupuncture benefits are just as broad. The technique can address everything from ageing and acne, to pigmentation and uneven skin tone

“Benefits of cosmetic acupuncture include softening of lines and wrinkles, lifting sagging, boosting collagen in areas that have lost firmness and volume, brightening and evening out the complexion, reducing pore size, and boosting hydration. It can also help with acne and skin conditions, scarring and hyperpigmentation.” Yep – it’s pretty much THE treatment for good skin.

How does it actually work? 

According to Dr Tam, there are three levels at which cosmetic acupuncture works as an anti-ageing treatment – she calls them her "triple threat" against anti-ageing. “It works on targeting weakened and drooping muscles to tighten, lift and tone. Secondly, it works on the soft tissue level, stimulating collagen and elastin production to soften lines and promote firmness. Thirdly, the needles help boost blood circulation to the face, helping promote oxygenation to the cells, resulting in a glow from the inside out.”

“The insertion of the totally painless ultra-fine needles causes a ‘microtrauma’ in the local area, signalling the body’s healing cells (fibroblasts) to start a process of collagen and elastin production to ‘repair’ the area,” explains Dr Tam. “The increase of density of collagen and elastin in the local area helps with loss of volume and firmness in the face.” It’s like the Chinese medicine version of microneedling. 

What size are the needles used in the procedure?

Not a fan of needles? No worries! Dr Tam says these needles are “So, so tiny!” – meaning you shouldn’t experience too much discomfort or pain (if any) during the treatment. “The needles are a thickness of 0.10 - 0.16 of a millimetre! At Cosmetic Acupuncture Melbourne, we use a specialised facial needle from Japan - the best you can buy.”

Is there any downtime involved?

The other good news beside the no-pain part? There’s no downtime involved, so you can get back to work or your daily routine straight afterwards. “Your skin may be a little flushed but that disappears within half an hour, and you can put your makeup on straight away and go out. There is a risk of bruising with any type of acupuncture, but bruising is very uncommon and only very slight if it does happen,” says Dr Tam. 

How long does it usually take to see results?

Results can be seen immediately, and the changes will become more significant with further treatments. “You should notice results with hydration and glowing and brightening at one to two sessions, and more significant anti-ageing changes (firmness, softening of lines etc.) at about four to eight sessions,” says Dr Tam.

“Weekly sessions are encouraged, followed by maintenance appointments once results have been achieved,” she says.

Who is a good candidate?

Facial acupuncture is suitable for everyone! Whether you’re getting facial acupuncture for acne or acupuncture for wrinkles, the treatment offers skin rejuvenation benefits for pretty much anyone who is looking to improve their skin – no matter your skin type. “We have patients that are in their 20s wanting to look after their skin and do preventative anti-ageing, and obviously we have those in their later years wanting to look after the skin in the most natural way possible,” says Dr Tam.

How much does it cost? 

Prices will vary based on location and expertise, but a quality treatment will start around $180 for the initial treatment. “At Cosmetic Acupuncture Melbourne, initial sessions are $180 for 75 minutes, and return sessions are $136 for 45 minutes,” says Dr Tam.

Looking for more info on how to rejuvenate your skin? Check out some of the latest high-tech skin treatments to get better skin, fast.

Have you tried cosmetic acupuncture before? Let us know your experience in the comment section below.

Main image credit: Getty

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.