WHAT IS FACIAL ACUPUNCTURE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
In simplest terms:
Facial acupuncture is the insertion of fine, filiform needles into select points in order to trigger a healing cascade and increase the cellular function of the skin and muscles of the face.
The goal of this “increased function” can be different things for different people. For some, it might be to break up the fixed tissue causing lines and wrinkles. For another, it might be to regain muscle function after the onset of Bells Palsy. For others still, it might be to tighten a jawline or increase cell turnover for a more luminous appearance.
So how does it work?
There are several mechanisms that come into play...
- Inserting fine needles into the skin causes just enough micro-trauma to initiate an acute inflammatory response. Unlike chronic inflammation (not helpful), this acute inflammation initiates positive body responses such as local vasodilation which brings more blood and resources to the area. It also activates our cleanup crew - the macrophages. Macrophages are large white blood cells that detect foreign or damaged tissue, engulf and digest it. This is particularly useful when getting rid of damaged tissue that causes hyperpigmentation. Micro-trauma also stimulates the production of wound healing proteins such as collagen. Unlike scar tissue that forms in response to a larger trauma, collagen fibers are arranged in an organized fashion and mature into healthy, functional skin.
- Micro-punctures help to break up scar tissue so that again, the acute inflammatory phase can kick-start cell renewal and clear away damaged (or not properly matured) tissue. Facial acupuncture needles are especially good at reaching inside the irregularly-angled border walls of box and icepick scars (almost impossible to reach with derma rolling or micro needling by the way. Best to use these modalities later on after those scars start to fill in).
- Facial acupuncture is based on the same principles as regular acupuncture. You would never just throw a bunch of needles in the face and forget about the rest of the body. Individually selected acupuncture points are used to support an individual’s overall health. Acupuncture can improve functions such as digestion, elimination, circulation, hormone balance, quality of sleep, etc. - all of which affect the skin. This modality works to truly nourish the face from the inside out, both locally and systemically.
- Acupuncture reduces stress, switching us over from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest and digest). This is really important as chronically elevated cortisol levels can disrupt hormones, reduce sleep, trigger more sebum (oil) production, slow wound healing, lead to chronic inflammation, and disrupt regular cell proliferation in the skin.
- Facial acupuncture increases blood flow to the skin and facial muscles. This brings more oxygen and nutrients to the area, bathing the cells with the resources they need to function properly. It also imparts that post-treatment glow and increased radiance.
- Acupuncture needles can stimulate the facial muscles. Increased blood flow and oxygen to the muscles along with the stimulation of the central nervous system can help enliven the muscles and prevent atrophy induced sagging. The same mechanisms of increased blood flow, oxygen, and CNS stimulation can also help relax muscles that are hypertonic such as in the case of jaw clenching or tension headaches.
These very specific mechanisms of action can be used to design custom treatments based on individual needs and goals.
One of my favorite aspects of acupuncture, however, is that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Facial acupuncture is a whole experience during which you should feel safe, relaxed, and cared for. It nourishes the mind, body, and emotions that nourish the face. Taking time out to honour your wellbeing and allowing someone else to care for you can be a treatment in itself!
To find out more about Facial Acupuncture, click here.
You can also book free, 15-minute consults with Christina.