Natural alternative to Botox that works on acne, too

Cosmetic Acupuncture has long been dubbed the natural alternative to Botox. Here, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner Elizabeth Cullen explains how it can help with skin concerns from acne to ageing. 

On the hunt for a youth-boosting treatment that’s clean, relatively pain-free, won’t cost a bomb and has no downtime? Then cosmetic acupuncture may be for you. Not only does the traditional Chinese medicine modality look at skin care holistically – taking into account your health and wellbeing – but it also addresses a multitude of complexion concerns, from acne to ageing, with some even dubbing it the natural alternative to Botox.

The ancient practice involves inserting tiny needles (between 20 and 100) into specific points in the face and body to target sagging skin, wrinkles, dullness, breakouts and scarring.

Sydney-based traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and The Dao Health founder, Elizabeth Cullen, explains that the procedure works in three stages. “It begins by stimulating blood flow and circulation to the face for a glowing complexion,” she says. The needle penetration then creates microtrauma, which stimulates the fibroblast cells that play an important role in wound healing. This process promotes the creation of collagen. “Thirdly, inserting the needle specifically into overused facial muscles works to tone or soften those muscles,” Cullen tells Body+Soul.

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Unlike other mainstream beauty treatments, cosmetic acupuncture takes a holistic approach. “Skin concerns are seen as a symptom or ‘branch of the tree’, and so the underlying imbalance of the internal system of the body – the ‘root of the tree’ – needs to be diagnosed and treated,” Cullen explains.

As each individual’s internal and external environment differs – based on factors such as stress, the menstrual cycle, hormonal imbalances and diet – treatment will be different for everyone.

When it comes to treating acne and breakouts, for example, your practitioner will likely take a look at your tongue and your pulse to assess the correct points to be used both in your face and body. “Cosmetic- acupuncture points promote healing through reducing inflammation, softening scarring and promoting blood flow to the area to support healing. The aim of the body acupuncture points is to address the underlying pattern to prevent further breakouts,” Cullen says.

You should start to see a difference as early as your first treatment, with improvements in fine lines and scarring more noticeable after a few sessions. “We recommend having a treatment once or twice a week for the first four weeks,” she says. “Results will vary depending on your age and skin conditions. A patient may need up to 10 treatments to notice changes associated with collagen, including firmness, deep wrinkles and sagging.”

From there, you’re looking at maintenance treatments every month, with results lasting up to a few years.

Give it a go

In Sydney: $164, at The Dao Health

In Melbourne: $180, at Cosmetic Acupuncture Melbourne

In Queensland: $110, at AcuHealth

All prices are for initial consults, which generally cost more than the subsequent treatments.