Jun Xu, M.D. Lic. Acup. Hong Su, C.M.D. Lic. Acup.
Tel: (203) 637-7720
Acupuncture and Facial Rejuvenation
Like most people in Western countries, Michelle, a 50 year old woman, loved to sun bathe for many years. She gradually discovered that her skin appeared to have an increasing amount of dark spots as she began to age. She also complained of deeper wrinkles appearing on her upper lip, in the corner of her eyes, side of her mouth and nasolabial folds deepening with constant dryness of the skin that lacked shine. She also had difficulty falling asleep, remaining asleep without interruption, experienced fatigue, constipation, on and off hot flashes, irregular menstruation, lived a stressful life, and experienced cold limbs during the winter and in air condition rooms. She would like to try acupuncture and Chinese herbs to reduce her facial dark spots, wrinkles, and improve the quality of her facial skin.
In order to understand the formation of hyperpigmentation and wrinkles, we have to understand the skin structure and related modern research.
The hyperpigmentation, i.e. dark spots, is the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased melanin. The dark spots are the results of excessive sun exposure usually found on the hands and face; hormonal changes associated as pregnancy, menopausal changes and ingestion of birth control pills; genetic factor, such as freckles or drug reaction. Sometimes, acne vulgaris (severe acne/pimples) also leads to hyperpigmentation.
Wrinkles typically appear as a result of aging. Wrinkles are accelerated by habitual facial expressions, aging, sun damage, smoking, poor hydration, and various other factors.
Skin consists of three layers:
- The outermost layer is the epidermis, which is made up of mainly dead, hardened skin cells that protect the body from outside elements.
- The next layer is the dermis, which contains a kind of tissue called collagen, as well as fibers and elastin that gives skin its elasticity.
- The innermost layer is the hypodermis, which is made of mostly fat that absorbs water to make the skin tissue nourished.
Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by an excess production of melanin by melanocytes at the epidermis. Besides the above mentioned causes, UV lights are the main reason to stimulate melanocyte activity; therefore, it is necessary to avoid excessive exposure to sun.
Wrinkles form in the epidermis and dermis. As we age, skin loses its ability to defend itself against the sun, smoking and the environment.
- The outermost layer of cells divide more slowly in older skin, making the epidermis thinner and lack the ability to hold moisture, which leads to fine lines in the skin’s surface.
- Deeper in the skin, the dermis, collagen and elastin break down and weakens the skin’s supportive structure. Skin then looses its elasticity and the ability to stretch and spring back into a firm position.
- During this time, fat starts to disappear from the skin’s deepest layers, the hypodermis, which leads to sagging.
Together, these effects create deeper wrinkles, such as frown lines and furrows. In fact, 90 percent of the premature skin ageing wrinkles is from excessive exposure to the sun, not from the normal process of aging. 50 to 80 percent of skin damage caused by the excessive sun exposure occurs in childhood. Therefore, good sun protection should be a habit developed early on and applying sunscreen before going outdoors can help reduce wrinkles.
Another cause of premature skin aging is smoking. Smoking damages the skin’s collagen which causes inflammation and leaves telltale lines around the mouth. Smokers are five times more likely to have wrinkled facial skin than non-smokers.
Air pollution, smog and toxins in the air can also wreak havoc on your skin by breaking down vitamin E, a necessary vitamin for your skin’s health. Genetics also play a role in skin health because it can determine when you’ll begin seeing crow’s feet around your eyes and laugh lines around your mouth.
How does Chinese Medicine treat patients with dark spots and deep wrinkles?
Chinese Medicine treats each patient as a whole person. Maintaining good skin isn’t just about beauty. It is also a health issue. More and more people pay attention not only to the wrinkles and dark spots but to their health. It is called life extension science or anti-aging medicine. Skin quality changes as the body’s health increases.
The Chinese approach to beauty has always been identified as being within. In other words, beauty stems from what’s on the inside. As early as the Sung Dynasty (960AD-1270AD), Acupuncturists have employed rejuvenation practices for the Empress and other court subjects. The Chinese realized that by using the body’s inner qi (internal energy), and manipulating its channels, it may be used to initiate the healing processes and improve facial appearance.
Chinese Medicine treatment consists of the following parts:
- Whole body treatment: In order to maintain the balance of Yin-Yang in the body. The pulse will be maintained to identify any excess or deficiency of internal organs, such as the liver, kidney, heart, spleen and lung.
- Facial treatment: Chinese method focus on the layer of dermis, improve collagen and elastin production, increase muscle tone and dermal contraction by inserting needles to directly stimulate the productive cells of dermis.
There are twelve regular meridians and eight extra meridians in our body. The essence transformed from daily intake through our digestion system is carried to the face by normal meridians transportation. Healthy skin appearance includes: moisture, gloss, smoothness, and purity. It is supported by healthy organs and a normal functioning of body. Points selection is not only focus on the face but also other parts of the body as well.
Acupuncture is designed to free up chi, moving energy through the body. When the needles are applied to the face it stimulates production of collagen and elastin. By addressing other parts of the body in addition to the face, such as the feet, legs, arms, head and ears, acupuncture assists the body’s ability to balance yin and yang of organs by carrying blood to the face to support the “facelift,” and the skin becomes “plumped up” without side effects. Meanwhile, acupuncture corrects the bodies discomfort and illness, such as stress, disturbed sleeping, etc. It goes into the root of ageing not only by benefitting the skin but also slowing down the ageing process.
What is the advantage of an acupuncture face lift vs. a surgical one?
Acupuncture is not a replacement for a surgical facelift or botox injections. Acupuncture will not provide an overnight solution; the improvement is subtle and occurs over time. However, acupuncture face-lifts can be an excellent holistic alternative to a traditional surgical face-lift. With acupuncture, the underlying causes of aging are treated rather than masking the symptoms with a surgical face-lift and allowing further decay and dysfunction to continue within the body.
Treatment with herbs and acupuncture is not only substantially less expensive than a traditional surgical face-lift, but much safer. The treatment is risk free from potential dangerous side effects such as numbness, scarring, swelling, discoloration, and even disfigurement.
What are some of the advantages of acupuncture over botox?
Botox is a neurotoxin and among one of the deadliest known to man. Although it is diluted to control its potency, with frequent use, it is possible for systemic toxicity resulting from accidental injection. However, when used safely and supervised by a physician, botox may be an effective treatment for wrinkles. But not withstanding, acupuncture is safer and less expensive when compared to botox treatments.
Michelle’s symptoms are very common among the middle age women approaching menopause with various complaints of body discomforts, wrinkles, dryness, and dark spots on the skin. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs not only treat the root of skin aging, but also make the patient feel good.
By taking her pulse and collecting all the info including her diet, appetite, sleep, daily activity, digestion, urinary and bowel movement, and observing her tongue, Michelle was diagnosed of deficiency of Liver blood and kidney Qi, stagnation of Liver Qi and Blood, therefore, we took the following steps to help her.
Treatment principle: reinforce kidney essence, nourish liver blood, and remove liver qi/blood stagnation, promote meridian circulation, tone the facial muscles.
- Acu-points: distant point: Live 3, GB42, Sp6, K3, St36, Li11, Li 4, Lu 7, etc.
2. Local points: Cv23, 24, du 26, st 9, st 1,2,3,4. GB 1, GB9, Ying tang, dermal needle around wrinkle, line and dark spot, etc.
3. Ear point: shen men, sympathetic, liver, kidney, lung, etc.
5. Acupressure with rosehip/vitamin E oil followed by acupuncture treatment
Acupuncture: 30 minutes, once or twice per week, 12 sessions in six or eight weeks. Monthly maintenance after is suggested.
Herbs formula: once a day for at least three months.
- Daily suggestion:
1. Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water helps in detoxifying the body.
2. Keep a check on tea/coffee intake
3. Take coconut water daily. It replenishes the skin and fights hyperpigmentation.
4. Add antioxidant Vit.C and Vit.B complex supplements to your diet.
5. Use a homemade pack with curd/ lemon juice/ tamarind paste/ papaya pulp/pineapple juice. It helps to lighten the complexion.
6. Use sun screen spf15 above to prevent excessive sun exposures.
7. Use warm water to wash the face. Avoid using hot water that dries the skin.
8. Moisturize your face, neck and hands morning and before the bed time by add rosehip/Vit.E oil following by facial acupressure so that the skin does not dry but keeps supple.
9. Avoid facial exercises and consciously avoid using facial gestures. Keep the face relaxed as much as possible.
10. No smoking.
After three months of treatment, her skin became more delicate and fair, and there are fewer wrinkles, less sagginess, and a clearing of aging spots. As an added bonus, she says, there is an overall “rejuvenation” that she felt in her body.
Topical Treatments (For your information)
There are many ingredients that are believed to reduce sun damage, increase collagen production and exfoliate the skin. You can get many products that are enriched with ingredients such as
- Copper Peptide
- Tretinoin and other retinoids
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Alpha Lipoic acid
- Hyaluronic acid
- DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)
- Coenzyme Q-10
Topical medicines and creams can be effective in reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Creams that contain alpha-hydroxy acids can make small improvements in the skin. However, they can cause very mild irritation. Retin-A, also known as retinoic acid, is more effective at reducing fine lines, but it must be used for several months. It can also make your skin red and more sensitive to the sun. You should talk to your doctor about the proper use of these ingredients.
If you are interested in acupuncture facial rejuvenation, please call our office at 203-637-7720 to make an appointment. Thank you!