Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture

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Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture

Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture

What is it?

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture (FRA) is the practice of inserting tiny needles (0.12mm in diameter) into the layers just beneath the skin’s surface, as well as into the facial muscles that are responsible for producing facial expressions (mimetic muscles). A mixture of superficial (<1mm) and deeper needling (up to 5mm) are used to gain the best results from the various mechanisms that occur in the skin in response to the various needling techniques.

A special, spring-loaded needle injector is used to deliver the needle to the desired location on the face with accuracy and maximum comfort.

How does it work?

Collagen Induction

Collagen is the prime determinant for skin appearance and the main component of the extracellular matrix in mammals (1). It is produced and secreted by fibroblasts and is responsible for skin’s tensile strength and stability of the dermal tissue and blood vessels (2).

Use of micro needling (between 0.5mm to 1.5mm deep) has been shown to increase collagen production as a result of the physiological cascade of wound healing in response to the extremely mild trauma (3). This process has been found to take place up to 0.6 mm into the skin at the border between the epidermis and the dermis (4).


Moisturising of the skin is recognised as a primary means of anti-aging skin care, and important factors of skin moisture include water content, oil content and natural moisturising factors within the structure of the skin (5).

Results of a preliminary study indicate that one of the ways FRA produces its effects may be by increasing the water and oil content in the superficial layers of the facial skin (6). It may also reduce levels of skin dryness by reducing heat produced by increased resting muscle tone that occurs as we age (7).

Facial Expression and Muscle Tone

In youth, mimetic (facial) muscles possess a curved contour due to underlying pads of fat that also acts to provide fluid motion and support for the facial muscles (8). It is this contour and curvature that determines specific characteristics of facial muscle contraction that presents outwardly as a youthful facial expression (9). According to MRI, the facial mimetic muscles gradually straighten and shorten as we age, and this may be a direct result of repeated muscle contractions over many years that dissipates the underlying supporting fatty tissue and contributes to increased resting muscle tone  and rigidity of facial appearance (10). FRA may help to improve facial elasticity by restoring healthy tone to the mimetic muscles, and surrounding supporting muscles of the head and neck (11).

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What else can it treat?

For centuries, Chinese Medicine was used to treat a wide range of skin conditions ranging from eczema, acne, psoriasis, alopecia and many others (12). While throughout this time is was understood that disease was caused by a disruption in the body’s energy (Qi) and vital substances (Yin/ Yang and body fluids) (13), modern research now provides a more intrinsic understanding of the mechanisms behind acupuncture and skin health. Acupuncture may be used as a primary form of treatment, or in conjunction with treatment or medication prescribed by your dermatologist.


Research suggests that acupuncture can be an effective form of treatment for acne (14) and acne vulgaris (15) by helping to reduce inflammation and the appearance of skin lesions and scarring (16)

Inflammatory Skin Conditions

A number of clinical trials compared within systematic reviews have shown that acupuncture can be beneficial for the treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema), urticaria (hives), pruritus (itchy skin)(17) and reducing skin-itch in itch related skin conditions (18).

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Research suggest that acupuncture is an effective form of treatment for reducing itch intensity in eczema (19). Acupuncture has been found to significantly reduce type 1 sensitivity (the immune response that causes eczema) itch in patients with atopic eczema (20). A pilot study has found that acupuncture actually reduces the concentration of blood serum levels of allergy-related cells called basophils that release chemical mediators, such as histamine, that are involved in the inflammatory process (21). Best results for the reduction of inflammatory markers in the treatment of eczema with acupuncture occured at around 5 weeks (33 days) following 10 acupuncture treatments (22).

How many treatments do I need?

Treating any type of condition can take time, and this is particularly true when it comes to treating the skin. As every person is unique in the way that they respond to treatment, an exact timeline of results is difficult to predict, however a basic guide can be provided.

For general facial rejuvenation, immediate results may be seen in the hours and days following the very first treatment. This may present in the form of softer, more supple and hydrated skin; a reduction in tension due to the relaxation of facial muscles

For inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), urticaria (hives) and pruritus (itchy skin), it is common to gain some initial relief from itching and reduction in redness from the first treatment, with extended relief occurring with subsequent treatments. The goal being to extend the period of relief between treatments to then reduce the frequency to as-needed maintenance treatments.

It is advised that patients receive 1 – 2 treatments per week in the first 3 – 4 weeks to gain momentum and boost the body’s response, followed by once-weekly treatments for a following 4 – 8 weeks. A consistent treatment plan of 12 weeks is advised in order to gain the most effective results. For this reason, I offer blocks of 6 or 12 treatments with a higher discount provided with the more treatments you purchase in one go.

Maintenance treatments may be administered as-needed after this at 2, 4, 6, or 8 week intervals depending on your response to treatments. This is only a guide as some patients may require less or more depending on how they respond.

Are there any adverse effects?

Acupuncture is considered a safe form of treatment when administered by a registered and experienced acupuncturist. As the concentration of blood vessels is more abundant in the skin of the face, there is always the chance of bruising and minor bleeding. While this is uncommon, it is important that you inform me if you have a history of easy bruising or bleeding so this can be taken into consideration in your treatments.

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How Skin Ages

Skin ageing is closely linked with changes in skin quality and surface texture, and functional parameters such as sebum composition, inherent repair mechanisms and the immune response that occur as a result of external influences and mechanical stress (27). Influences on skin ageing can be divided into two main categories: intrinsic and extrinsic ageing (28). All aspects of these influences lead to reduced structural integrity and physiological function (29). People usually have skin that reflects various stages of extrinsic ageing superimposed on their level of intrinsic ageing (30).

Intrinsic (chronological) Ageing

This type of ageing occurs gradually over a person’s life and consequently these changes occur slowly and are difficult to notice on a day-to-day basis. Intrinsic skin ageing is characterised by unblemished, smooth, pale(r), drier, less elastic skin with fine wrinkles and can only be seen in quite old age (31). This type of ageing occurs within the tissue itself as a result of genetic and hormonal influences which lead to a number of different physiological factors such as:

  • A gradual reduction in skin cells such as dermal mast cells and fibroblasts
  • A gradual decline of skin proteins, elastin and collagen
  • Alteration in the structure of how the skin is shaped
  • A gradual decline of nutritive blood supply to the skin
  • How the health of internal organs affect the skin
  • Oxidative stress


As we age, our skin’s ability to maintain its integrity naturally declines. This occurs as a result of the natural decrease in the replicative ability of cells as we age (cellular senescence) and is directly related to the maximum number of cell divisions somatic cells are able to perform (33). Each time a cell replicates, a small portion of the telomere on the end of the chromosome is lost which in turn affects the cell’s capability to function efficiently (34). After a certain number of cell divisions, telomeres become critically short and the resulting DNA loss can result in the complete loss of cell function (35). It is understood that cell regeneration in the epidermis (the most superficial layer of skin) is halved in the time between our 20’s and 60’s, and this factor also contributes to a deterioration in wound healing capacity in old age (36).

Extrinsic Ageing

This type of ageing is predominantly affected by environmental factors such as diet, smoking, chemicals and air pollution, trauma, and most importantly, ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure, otherwise known as photo-ageing (37). Over 80% of facial skin ageing is due to low-grade chronic UVR exposure which can result in rough texture and coarse wrinkling, a loss of elasticity, and sallow complexion with mottled pigmentation (38).

UVR from the sun makes up a total of 5% of the total solar light spectrum (39) and usually consists of UVA (>95%), UVB (~5%), and UVC (40). While UVC is the most hazardous to skin, it is absorbed completely by the ozone layer and atmosphere (41). The actual ratio of UVA and UVB rays that reach our skin is determined by geographical positioning, season and time of day (42). UVA rays penetrate the skin’s surface to the underlying dermis, damaging the connective tissue and increases the risk of skin cancer (43). UVB only penetrates the superficial epidermis which may result in tanning, sunburn photocarcinogenesis (light derived cancer) (44).


Nutritional deficiencies have been connected with cutaneous signs such as dermatitis, cheilitis (cracked lips), angular stomatitis (cracks in corners of the mouth), alopecia (hair loss), and depigmentation. Dietary factors such as higher quantities of antioxidants may help to reduce the effects of ageing.


Smoking is known to alter biological process in the skin which speed up the ageing process (45). Tobacco smoke extract has been found to impair the growth and proliferation of fibroblasts (cells that produce collagen) and leads to characteristics similar to those of much older cells (46). It is thought that tobacco smoke induces oxidative stress injury and compromises the activity of antioxidant defense (47). One twin study provided evidence that 10 years of smoking caused a difference of skin appearance by an increase of roughly 2.5 years (48).

Effects of consistent tobacco smoking on skin:

  • Skin typically has more prominent facial wrinkling, particularly around the mouth, upper lip and eyes.
  • Causes hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin) of the oral mucosa (mucous membranes of the mouth.
  • May cause changes in facial pigmentation and laxity (loosening) of tissues.
  • Can alter skin hue and reduce radiance (shown to improve when smoking stops).


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  8. Louarn, C, Buthiau, D. & Buis, J. “Structural Aging: The Facial Recurve Concept”, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Vol. 31, Issue 3 (2007): 213,  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00266-006-0024-9,
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  11. Yun, Y, Kim, S, Kim, M, Kim, K, Park, J & Choi, “Effect of Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture on Facial Elasticity: An Open-Label”, Single-Arm Pilot Study, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol 2013 (2013): viewed 21 February 2018, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/424313
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  15. Son, B, Yun, Y & Choi, I, “Efficacy of ah shi point acupuncture on acne vulgaris”, Acupuncture Med, Vol. 28, No. 3 (2010): pp. 126 – 129, viewed 8 March 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20813813
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  17. Ma, C & Sivamani, R, “Acupuncture as a Treatment Modality in Dermatology: A Systematic Review”, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 21, No. 9 (2015): 520 – 529, viewed 6 March 2018, www.ebsco.com, 520
  18. Yu, C, Zhang, P, Lv, Z, Li, H, Wu, C, Fang, G, Yuan, X, Zhang, J, He, W, Jing, X & Li, M, “Efficacy of Acupuncture in Itch: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Randomized Controlled Trials”, Evidenced Based Complementary Medicine (2015), viewed 8 March 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4430643/
  19. Pfab, F, Athanasiadis, G, Huss-Marp, J, Fuqin, J, Heuser, B, Cifuentes, L, Brockow, K, Schober, W, A, Konstantinow & Irnich, D, “Effect of Acupuncture on Allergen-Induced Basophil Activation in Patients with Atopic Eczema: A Pilot Trial”, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 17, No. 4 (2011): 309 – 314, viewed 9 March 2018, www.ebsco.com, 309
  20. Pfab, F, Huss-Marp, J, Gatti, A, Fuqin, J, Athanasiadis, G, Irnich, D, Raap, U, Schober, W, Behrendt, H, Ring, J & Darsow, U, “Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema – a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial”, Allergy, Vol. 67, No. 7 (2010), viewed 9 March 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20002660
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  23. Tobin, D, “Introduction to Skin Aging”, Journal of Tissue Viability, Vol.  26, (2017): 37 – 46, viewed 13 January 2018, www.sciencedirect.com, 37
  24. Tobin, D, “Introduction to Skin Aging”, 37 – 38
  25. Tobin, D, “Introduction to Skin Aging”, 38
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  41. Tobin, D, “Introduction to Skin Aging”, 39
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  49. Krutmann et al., “The skin aging exposome”, 156
By |2018-06-11T04:55:43+00:00June 11th, 2018|Categories: Acupuncture, Practice|0 Comments

About the Author:

Chris Fehres lives in Brisbane and holds a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in acupuncture. Chris completed his degree in 2015 at Endeavour College of Natural Health where he graduated with distinction and was awarded the medal of academic excellence for highest achievement Australia-wide for acupuncture. He currently holds positions at Endeavour College as a contract tutor for higher education and alumni representative for the Course Advisory Committees for both the Acupuncture and Biosciences departments, as well as having been chosen as the focus for their 2017 - 18 Graduate Stories write up.

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