My patients often ask me if acupuncture is as good as anti-wrinkle injections for reducing lines and wrinkles. Although I have done a lot of reading I wanted to find the answer regarding the effects of acupuncture and other facial rejuvenation modalities from an eastern point of view. So I tried them out myself through a series of treatments at the Kamalaya Wellbeing Sanctuary in Koh Samui, Thailand.
First of all, lets understand how traditional (western) anti-wrinkle injections work. Botulinum toxin in small diluted doses, when injected into the belly of a contracting muscle will reduce the signal for the muscle to act, therefore easing its muscular pull (this pull of the skin being what eventuates into wrinkles). We use tiny caliber needles of about 0.1 to inject up to 15-20 points, on the face. We inject into the superficial fibres of some of the large muscles of the face, frontalis (forehead) and corrugator (frown muscle). Treatment is repeated at 3-4 months for longevity.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of hundreds of tiny needles of a caliber about 0.2-0.25 again in muscle bellies with the aim of unblocking stagnant energy build ups, and allowing the flow of energy described as ‘qi’. This allows increased blood flow to the area of the needle insertion, and increases muscle tone. Many treatments are required, and the people I spoke to mentioned a certain ‘glow’ post treatment.
So what does it feel like? Well during my treatment I found it was slightly painful much like anti-wrinkle injections, and then a tingle, which I almost sensed was a release of the blocked energy and an increase of blood flow. After about 20 mins the needles are removed. I had small pin point bleeding in areas, but no real pain, I did however feel a sense of calm, and I felt like my whole body had a treatment, as opposed to just a facial treatment. I did experience a headache afterwards, which is also very common post toxin injections, and a small bruise that lasted for a few days. After a few days I haven’t yet noticed a reduction in my wrinkles, but I suspect more treatments are needed. Rather than anti-wrinkle injections, I would compare it more to the micro-needling devices that we use that cause tiny dermal injuries via insertion of hundreds of small needles, ultimately causing regeneration of collagen and therefore smoothing wrinkles.
I recommend this treatment as a way to promote energy flow and overall wellness. Compared to anti-wrinkle injections, more than one treatment would be required to derive noticeable results. Overall, anti-wrinkle injections will provide faster (and perhaps more effective) results in reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Stayed tuned for my next blog which focuses on Dien Chan Reflexology for the face (administered by a London based Acupuncturist, Alex Scrimgeor). This treatment originates from Vietnam and is known to stimulates inner health and well being.