What Is Cosmetic Acupuncture?

What You Should Know About Cosmetic Facial Acupuncture

Woman undergoing acupuncture treatment, close-up
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Cosmetic acupuncture is a non-invasive treatment that involves using acupuncture to improve skin and fight the aging process. Sometimes referred to as an "acupuncture facelift" or "facial rejuvenation," cosmetic acupuncture often is used as an alternative to surgical facelifts and other conventional procedures said to reverse signs of aging in the skin.

Proponents claim that cosmetic acupuncture can help reduce wrinkles, diminish fine lines, remove age spots, and lift droopy eyelids.

Most courses of cosmetic acupuncture treatment involve 10 or more sessions, as well as additional sessions for maintenance of results.

How Acupuncture Works

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture has long been used to improve the flow of vital energy (called qi or chi) throughout the body. This vital energy is thought to circulate through invisible energy lines which are known as meridians.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, health problems occur as a result of blockages in the flow of vital energy. By inserting needles into specified points along meridian lines, acupuncturists aim to restore the flow of vital energy and, in turn, improve health.

How Does Cosmetic Acupuncture Work?

Cosmetic acupuncture is purported to improve skin and act as an anti-aging treatment in part by stimulating the production of collagen (a protein that acts as a major component of your skin).

As you age, your skin's inner layer loses collagen and, as a result, becomes less supple and firm.

However, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that acupuncture can promote collagen production.

Some proponents also suggest that cosmetic acupuncture can help rejuvenate your skin by improving your overall energy.

The Science Behind Cosmetic Acupuncture

Although research suggests that acupuncture may offer a number of health benefits (including reduced stress and management of problems like chronic pain and depression), there is currently a lack of scientific studies testing the effects of cosmetic acupuncture.


Acupuncture is generally considered safe when administered by a qualified practitioner. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, acupuncture may cause serious adverse effects (such as infections and punctured organs) when not delivered properly.

Alternatives to Cosmetic Acupuncture

A number of natural remedies may help improve skin and possibly offer anti-aging benefits.

For example, ceramides (a type of fat molecule found naturally in the top layer of your skin and used as an ingredient in skin-care products) may protect against aging-related dryness in the skin.

In addition, preliminary research suggests that applying white tea to the skin may fight the breakdown of collagen and elastin (a protein that supports skin's elasticity and plays a role in the prevention of sagging).

There's also some evidence that natural substances such as argan oil, borage oil, and sea buckthorn may offer moisturizing benefits that could help improve skin.

Using Cosmetic Acupuncture

While there's no evidence that cosmetic acupuncture can improve your skin, it's possible that undergoing acupuncture can help manage your stress and enhance your overall health.

If you're considering using cosmetic acupuncture, make sure to consult your physician first.


Di Marzio L, Cinque B, Cupelli F, De Simone C, Cifone MG, Giuliani M. "Increase of skin-ceramide levels in aged subjects following a short-term topical application of bacterial sphingomyelinase from Streptococcus thermophilus." Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2008 Jan-Mar;21(1):137-43.

Donoyama N, Kojima A, Suoh S, Ohkoshi N. "Cosmetic acupuncture to enhance facial skin appearance: a preliminary study." Acupunct Med. 2012 Jun;30(2):152-3.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. "Acupuncture: An Introduction." NCCAM Pub No.: D404. August 2011.

Thring TS, Hili P, Naughton DP. "Anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and anti-oxidant activities of extracts from 21 plants." BMC Complement Altern Med. 2009 Aug 4;9:27.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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