What cosmetic acupuncture does, says Aubrey-Miller, is "stir the energy pot." Moving energy through the body, with needles not only in the face but also the feet, legs, arms, head, and ears, stimulates collagen production and brings blood to the face.
Aubrey-Miller's recommended course of treatment is 12 to 16 weeks, with monthly maintenance treatments after that. "It's something useful to do for yourself," she says, and you don't have to worry about recovering from surgery or side effects such as bruising or nerve damage. For many of her clients, it's also a mini-vacation of sorts. "For many people, this is the only quiet time they spend on themselves. Usually, once the needles are in, they just fall asleep for 30 minutes."
Cosmetic acupuncture is not a cure-all, Aubrey-Miller emphasizes. "How you live your life will impact what your face looks like," she says. "You can't correct a bad lifestyle with needles."
Another nonsurgical facelift is also attracting attention. The PanG nonsurgical facelift is a series of office-based treatments that apply radiofrequency energy, high voltage galvanic electric current, and high frequency ultrasound to produce "facelift-type" effects on the soft tissues of the face and neck. It takes 20 treatments over 10 weeks to produce these effects, says R. Stephen Mulholland, MD, of Toronto. "This is like body building for the face," says Mulholland.
Mulholland admits that the treatment offers only about 30% of the effect of a conventional facelift. "You're getting a lift effect," he says. "But for best results, you would still want a facelift."
Can't Do It All
Rhoda Narins, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, says she thinks acupuncture has its place, especially as a pain reliever. But she doesn't believe in it as a replacement for cosmetic treatments such as surgery, Botox injections, and the like. "Acupuncture doesn't stop the muscle movement that creates lines," she says. "Botox does." Nor can acupuncture tighten or "fill" the skin as surgery or injectable fillers such as Restylane can.
Too many "extreme makeovers" on television are leading many of us to believe that a new look is a no-muss, no-fuss proposition. "That's just not the case," says Narins. "Changing your appearance is not something that should be taken lightly."