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Facial acupuncture is said to have been in vogue during the Song Dynasty among royalty as they wanted to preserve their youth and beauty.

Today, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) method is also a go-to alternative treatment among celebrities such as Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow to fix their crow's feet.

The non-invasive procedure is gaining popularity here too, with more TCM clinics offering the service. The latest player is Eu Yan Sang, which started offering such sessions earlier this month at its TCM clinics.

According to one of its physicians, Ms Anita Pee, facial acupuncture works by fixing problems with the body.

She told The New Paper: "The skin is akin to a mirror of the body's internal health. Conditions affecting the skin can be indicative of problems (within).

"Factors such as diet, poor rest, stress and mood as well as environmental factors affect the balance within the body, which can present health problems."

During a session of facial acupuncture, which is usually 30 to 40 minutes long, trained and licensed physicians use fine needles to stimulate acupoints on the face and body.

 

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Acupoints are part of channels known as meridians, many of which run through the head and facial region and link the body surface to the internal organs and the other parts of the body.

Image: The New Paper/ Eu Yan Sang

"In TCM, the body is seen as a whole, and skin problems reflect disharmony within the body. Thus, skin conditions are treated by addressing not only the visible symptoms but also the root cause of the problem," Ms Pee said.

Therefore, using fine needles to stimulate facial acupoints and other related acupoints on the body can elicit a wide range of health effects.

They include harmonising yin and yang - a balance that ensures the body is in good order - and releasing stagnated qi (vital energy), which causes discomfort.

Ms Pee added that facial acupuncture also stimulates circulation in the area for better complexion and helps in resolving skin conditions.

Some common skin conditions that can be alleviated with facial acupuncture include:

  • Acne, which is often associated with excess or damp heat in the body, usually in the lungs or spleen.

  • Dull skin, which is associated with the function of the lungs, spleen and heart, relating to the flow of blood and qi.

  • Pigmentation, which is associated with poor blood and qi flow to the facial region or deficiencies in the spleen and kidneys.

  • Dark eye circles, which are associated with spleen or kidney deficiencies or the stagnation of qi and blood.

As with other cosmetic treatments, the effects of facial acupuncture vary for each individual.

Some may see improvements soon after treatment, while others may require a few sessions of treatment before the results are visible.

Ms Pee recommends a treatment plan of eight to 12 sessions, twice a week.

Depending on the individual's condition, the treatment plan can be complemented with herbal medication and other treatments such as guasha, during which the skin is scraped to produce light bruising.

Practitioners believe guasha releases unhealthy elements from the injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing.

"Appropriate care and follow-up treatment can further enhance the efficacy of facial acupuncture and treat the underlying cause of poor skin health," Ms Pee said.

 

This story was originally published in The New Paper on April 24, 2017.

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