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What is Cosmetic Acupuncture?

 

At the Sean Barkes Clinic we offer a range of cosmetic treatments through the use of proven Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) techniques.  All treatments are non-surgical and may include acupuncture, Chinese massage, cupping, heat therapies and herbs.  Over the past few years in the UK, prescriptive approaches commonly called “Facial Enhancement Acupuncture”, ” Facial Revitalisation Acupuncture” or simply “Cosmetic Acupuncture” have become popular. We have sent our clinicians on specialist courses to learn these techniques. However, after years of experience we have found that a more holistic approach, treating the patient from the inside out is more effective in the long-run. In the context of Western therapies cosmetic treatments are typically considered to be facial treatments that reduce the signs of aging; however, many skin and body  problems can be treated with TCM offering relief from discomfort and improving personal appearance. The following are some of the more common disharmonies that fall within the category of cosmetic treatments treated with TCM:

  • Dark rings below the eyes
  • Cellulite
  • Thin wrinkly skin
  • Dry hair with dandruff
  • Obesity
  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Dull lifeless hair
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Acne rosacea
  • Dull skin
  • Alopecia/hair loss
  • Psoriasis
  • Hanging puffy skin
  • Eczema
  • Urticaria/itching
  • Large and heavy breasts
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Vitiligo
  • Small breasts
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Swollen face
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Prickly heat

The Chinese have long understood that beauty is not only skin deep but also that it is influenced by the internal health and harmony of our bodily elements. Cosmetic acupuncture (Mei Rong as it is known in China) is recorded as being in use from the fifth century BC and is based on the same roots as TCM.

All cosmetic TCM treatments, whether local acupuncture for the face to reduce the signs of aging or local techniques that help with weight loss or breaking down cellulite, will include constitutional treatments and lifestyle/dietary advice. This holistic approach harmonises the body enabling the local cosmetic treatments to work more effectively and giving an overall improvement in internal, external and psychological health. For instance after constitutional treatments and manageable lifestyle changes it is common for patients to report that they have more vitality in themselves and their skin, and many other benefits such as, improved sleep, happier frame of mind, more even body temperature, fewer headaches and better digestion.

For those not familiar with TCM, two important concepts are; that of Qi (sometimes spelt Chi and pronounced ‘chee’) and balance or harmony of the Yin & Yang elements. Qi has many interpretations but in the context of this discussion it is taken to mean the vital energy or force that circulates around the body in defined channels. When Qi is deficient or its free flow is inhibited we eventually become ill and further disharmonies arise. The judicious use of TCM treatments such as acupuncture can tonify Qi and remove these blockages. When there is disharmony of Yin & Yang then pathology will eventually manifest; for example, a deficiency of the Yin cooling essences will lead to an imbalance with the Yang warming essences, this can cause spontaneous hot flushes and night sweats. TCM treatments help redress the imbalance and harmonise this temperature imbalance.

Treatment and Duration

The precise sequence and type of treatment will vary depending on exactly what is being addressed and the constitution of the patient. However a typical facial treatment to address lifting and fine lines would begin with the clinician consulting with the patient to get a picture of their constitution, general health and what they would like addressing. The clinician then assesses which acupoints and TCM therapies will be most beneficial and discusses the treatment principles, methods, reasoning and anticipated number of sessions with the patient. Then with the patient’s consent the treatment is administered.

All initial consultations require a 1½ hour appointment and most facial cosmetic treatments require subsequent visits of 1½ hours. Subsequent visits for less time consuming treatments may be for 1 hour.

The total number of treatments varies depending on many factors.  However, a typical course of treatments to address face lifting and fine lines would require 8 sessions. Subsequent top up or booster treatments can be given at intervals to suit, but not more frequently than one per month.

Can anyone have Cosmetic Treatments?

Generally anyone can have TCM treatments (cosmetic treatments at the Sean Barkes Clinic are always based on the TCM treatments), however, there are some exceptions or cautions for patients with certain conditions or on particular types of medication. A full list of contraindications will be given to you prior to your initial consultation and any areas of concern can be discussed with your clinician.

Most diseases and disharmonies can be addressed with TCM treatments, some respond easily and quickly and some can respond slowly requiring many sessions, it depends on the condition and the patient’s constitution.  Your clinician will always be open and honest with you, letting you know the prognosis and likely number of sessions required, and your case will be revaluated at each session.

There are some conditions that may not be suitable for treatment, particularly in cases of facial cosmetic treatment, for example, deep lines or severe blemishes may not respond well, or fine lines and lifting in someone who smokes is not likely to be successful. In cases like these or whenever appropriate your clinician will advise that TCM is not suitable and often suggest an alternative therapy or specialist.

What does it feel like?

The first thing to mention is that Acupuncture treatment is not at all like having an injection; the needles are very fine (some needles used for CA are no more than 6mm long, and 0.14mm in diameter) and in the hands of a properly qualified clinician can penetrate the superficial layer of the skin without the patient feeling anything at all. Subsequent to this there may be a dull ache or tingling sensation, which is a sign that the patient’s Qi is responding to the needle. Most patients, in fact, find acupuncture deeply relaxing!

Does Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture Work?

A 1996 report in the International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture showed that among 300 Chinese patients treated with cosmetic acupuncture 90% had noticeable effects following one course of treatment. These effects included improvement in skin texture, colouring, reduction in wrinkles and increased skin elasticity.

Results vary from patient to patient, depending on their state of health, age, lifestyle and so on, but results such as these are possible with cosmetic treatments.

Is it Safe?

TCM including acupuncture is a very safe form of treatment and cosmetic TCM is no different. All of the needles used are sterile and disposable, and as with all of our other activities our cosmetic treatments are regulated by the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC, www.acupuncture.org.uk), who ensure the highest standards of hygiene and training. BAcC registered Acupuncturists will have the letters MBAcC after their name guaranteeing that they have achieved a rigorous degree level standard in TCM and acupuncture, and are fully insured to practice. At the Sean Barkes Clinic Facial Cosmetic Treatments are administered by qualified clinicians who have undertaken a postgraduate course in cosmetic TCM treatments.

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