Needling yet? Facial Acupuncture for Beauty, Youth and Vitality
Katarina Holewa, ND

The value of acupuncture in the treatment of dis-ease has been known for centuries, having been used in Asia since times BC. As naturopathic physicians, we recognize the substantial benefits provided by all forms of Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM)—not only acupuncture, but also Chinese herbs, medicinal foods, etc. Indeed, many of us utilize it in daily practice for a multitude of reasons, ranging from pain alleviation and hormone regulation, to stress management and insomnia.


One style of acupuncture that is becoming more popular in recent years in North America (though long-used in Asia), which is utilized by many acupuncturists and which some naturopathic doctors are starting to incorporate into their practices is facial/cosmetic acupuncture. This modality has been advertised and flaunted in the media in recent years as “The new facelift” and as an alternative to botulinum toxin injections. While these may sound like bold and possibly exaggerated statements, and while I’m not sure these claims are 100% accurate, I do believe that facial/cosmetic acupuncture has much to offer patients natural seeking treatments for common skin conditions, age-related skin changes, and general preventative dermatological care.

Several variations of facial and/or cosmetic acupuncture protocols exist, these names commonly being used interchangeably in the media. In reality, the different systems may vary significantly from one another. Some forms exclusively utilize tiny hand needles into specific points along the meridians on the face, while others may involve more invasive threading of longer needles through the superficial layers of the dermis in altogether different point locations (which may lie along the typical acupuncture meridians, or not). In either case, variability can increase further as individual practitioners frequently add their own flair to their protocols, such as incorporating jade and gemstones, massage, or herbal preparations (applied topically or taken internally by the patient).

Obviously, there exist both similarities and differences when compared with TOM acupuncture. In both cases, protocols may be focused on either the treatment of pathology, prevention of future dis-ease, or overall wellness and qi balancing.1 A practitioner might recommend facial/cosmetic acupuncture specifically for goals that might include improving overall skin health, treating any number of skin conditions (rosacea, acne, etc), reducing signs of skin stress and aging (wrinkles and sun spots), and delaying, overall, the aging process. Other differences may include the type of needles used, frequency and length of treatment, as well as any other personal variations the practitioner incorporates.1

Typically, needles are placed in specific points on the face, neck, around the ears, and along the hairline, most of which correspond to regular points along the meridians. These needles are working locally, bringing qi to the area and helping to disperse toxins and excess fluid that might have accumulated there.1 Points along the body will be added, with the intention of balancing hormones, eliminating toxins, and improving the overall balance and flow of qi throughout the body, as determined by the presenting case.1,2,3 The body points are critical to achieving positive results, as they are first and foremost helping to bring balance and smooth flow of qi to the body1 – and as we know, optimal beauty and health are impossible when the body is out of balance! Read More