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Looking ten years younger doesn’t have to involve Botox or plastic surgery. As relationship Therapist Tamra Mercieca discovers, the restoration of our youthful appearance could be just a few pinpricks away.

The lure of healthy vanity has seen a rise in the number of people using Cosmetic or Facial Acupuncture to iron out wrinkles and fine lines. Even Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cher are said to be among those turning back time with these natural “facelifts”.

But spiking the face with disposable, hair-thin needles to half the physical manifestations of ageing, is not new. It was Chinese physicians who recognised the link between optimum health and physical beauty, and began practicing what we call dermatology, some 5,000 years ago.

NATURE’S BOTOX

We all know beauty is more than skin deep, and Oriental Medicine trainer Mary Elizabeth Wakefield says that’s why Cosmetic Acupuncture is so effective. “Treatments are organic, and focus on the entire body by regulating one’s flow of energy or ‘qi’, and addressing the ‘energy blockages’ that might be causing the problem.”

“The face is simply an extension of energetic pathways of the acupuncture meridians through the body. Digestive issues for example, can be reflected in the facial landscape around the cheek area, and may manifest as redness or other forms of discolouration.”

Vivian Tam trained with Wakefield, and now specialises in cosmetic acupuncture in Melbourne. She says this age-old non-Surgical treatment works with the energy in the body to stimulate cells in the face. “The needles wake up muscles that have loosened and sagged, and relax muscles that are overly tight, causing pulling of the delicate facial skin.”

“Fine lines begin to disappear, deep lines get smoother, and broken capillaries improve, as do skin conditions such as acne and rosacea, all without the use of drugs, surgery or electrical stimulation,” says Tam.

From a consumer standpoint, one of the most attractive features of cosmetic acupuncture is its cost, which is a fraction of most other forms of cosmetic enhancement. “It is a relatively pain-free procedure that involves no swelling or recovery time, and an excellent choice for those who want to reclaim their radiance from the inside out,” says Tam.

But it doesn’t stop there. Since facial acupuncture is based on time-tested principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a person’s overall health may also benefit. Insomnia can be corrected and weight gain controlled. Cosmetic acupuncture, after all, is a whole-body treatment.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Fine needles are placed in the face, neck and around the eyes. Since muscle groups are addressed as well as acupuncture points, the face lifts itself, via the acupuncture points, through the muscles’ toning and tightening action. The needles also stimulate blood and circulation, which improves facial colour.

The needles are finer than those used in traditional acupuncture treatments, are more gentle and cause virtually no pain. Wakefield says she takes the ‘less is more’ approach. “We do not stick hundreds of needles into the face; each treatment is tailored to the individual’s needs.”

The treatment also incorporates Chinese herbal masks, poultices and moisturisers. Jade rollers, which enhance blood circulation, remove the fine lines and age spots, and prevent premature aging, are used to massage moisturiser into the skin.

TREATMENTS

Vivian Tam says while everyone is different, she generally notices an improvement in skin colour and tone after the first treatment. “The increased glow to the complexion is a result of the qi and blood flow to the face.”

“Cosmetic acupuncture generally happens over ten to fifteen sessions that last between 60-90 minutes. People with sagging tendencies, such as double chin and jowls, may require up to 20 sessions, by which time the patient should look and feel five to fifteen years younger.”

“Each session adds to the benefits already gained in the previous session, and if properly maintained with a healthy lifestyle, the result can last a few years. Botox on the other hand, only last for a few months, and when it fades, your skin returns to its original state.”

POISONOUS INJECTIONS

Not only is Botox a temporary fix, the Botulinum toxin is the most virulent poison known to mankind, and despite the approval by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, the long-term effects of repeated injections have yet to be ascertained.

One study reported in Science News, shows that just one Botox treatment is enough to impair emotional responses and the inability to interpret facial expression. The toxin not only prevents the normal function of the muscle, it also impacts the neurochemical response in the brain.

Wakefield says there is nothing even remotely toxic about facial acupuncture, as it works with the facial musculature to enliven the face and bring it back to its intrinsic state of being. “After a treatment, the face looks natural, soft and younger, helping the person look well-rested, and will feel better overall.”

Wakefield believes our faces are meant to express the reality of the inner life of our souls, and consequently, the face is the most emotive part of the body. “It is meant to be ‘embalmed’ in the pursuit of an artificial appearance of youth.”

MIRACLE SKIN CARE

Jojoba oil has been used by the native people of the south western United States for generations to treat burns and skin sores, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that is discovered by the cosmetic industry and according to the University of Wisconsin, is now included in close to 300 products.

Tam says she uses Jojoba on her clients because it mirrors the oils produced by the skin and scalp. “It tricks the skin into believing it’s produced enough oil, which helps balance out oil production. Jojoba actually cleans out the pores by breaking down and dislodging built up oil and debris, making it extremely effective for people with oily skin and even acne.”

Wakefield says Jojoba is effective in treating crow’s feet and dryness around the eyes also lines and dryness on the upper lip. “I recommend applying it to the face every evening, as it is readily absorbed and beautifully hydrates these delicate areas.”

Part of the beauty of cosmetic acupuncture facelifts is their accessibility; they take about as long as manicure. Afterwards, there is no scar and no permanently surprised expression. It simply makes you look young and bursting with health. So if it was enough for the Emperors and Empresses of China, why shouldn’t it work for us?

For those wanting treatment with Vivian Tam, visit: www.cosmeticacupunctureclinic.com.au

OTHER TIPS TO KEEP YOUR SKIN YOUNG AND FRESH

  • Use natural organic products that are not carcinogenic. Always read labels.
  • Eat lots of leafy green vegetables and protein. Protein feeds the muscles.
  • Drink lots of water, at least 6 to 8 glasses a day.
  • Avoid excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays. Early morning and later afternoon sun is best.
  • Including walking, yoga and deep breathing exercises into your lifestyle.
  • Get a good night’s sleep, 7 to 8 hour is best.

Cosmetic Acupuncture is gaining popularity, and there is evidence that it works. A study published in the International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture showed that of 300 people who received facial acupuncture, 90 percent saw marked results after their first course of treatment.