psychoPEDIA: Daily News

Beauty Road-Test: Facial Acupuncture
Following in Gwyneth’s Footsteps to Find a Remedy for Skin In Crisis

I’ve Googled Juvéderm once or twice after contemplating¬ my reflection for an amount of time better left for teenage girls. But the thought of a dermatologist jamming my cheeks until they’re plump with hyaluronic acid dermal filler produces an anxiety that far outweighs the desire to erase smile lines. Of course there’s Botox, which promises to vaporize my frown lines, but unfortunately I have a healthy fear of clostridium botulinum. And anyway, isn’t it at all disturbing that I’d want to erase all evidence of emotion on my face?

In the spirit of holistic medicine (and vanity), I contact Mark Moshchinsky at Tree of Life Acupuncture, and schedule a facial acupuncture appointment, clinging to the hope that this problem can be tackled from the inside out. If Gwyneth and Madonna are fans, there’s a good chance I’ll walk out of the acupuncturist looking younger and prettier.

I arrive at Tree of Life and complete the standard intake forms. Then I meet Mark for our consultation, but first ask him a few questions before volunteering my face as a pincushion.

On the inevitable Botox comparison: Well, I’m not a Botox expert… let’s start with the advantages. It’s quick and the results could be more dramatic than acupuncture. That’s probably it. The disadvantage is that when it wears off, you look a lot older. And there are no health benefits.

Disadvantages of acupuncture: I’ll start with the disadvantages. It’s not as dramatic– that’s basically it. The advantage is, it works on your health. Even if I focus on your face, a lot of organs map out on the face. The liver has to do with eyes, mouth has to do with digestion, and the nose has to do with the lungs.

On visible results: Unless you do some surgical procedure, if you don’t feel well, it always shows on your face. Even if you get Botox, there’s an energy around you. A woman may not be that beautiful, but she’s happy and people cling to her. A lot of the time it has to do with internal energy. You might not always see it, but people feel it. Another advantage is that it’s natural, it’s not as dramatic, but over time you can see that it will help you with stress and all your health issues. A lot of people carry stress on the their face.

How to achieve optimal results: Lines aren’t going to disappear after one visit. A good rule of thumb is 10 to 12 weeks for any course of treatment. Acupuncture can give you a glow–it can happen with even one treatment. It gives you more blood supply and more energy.

Cost comparison: Average acupuncture sessions range from $80 - $120 (generally 10-12 treatments, one every week or two, are necessary). A standard Botox treatment costs anywhere from $350 - $800, and lasts up to 4 months. Restylane lasts a little longer than Botox and there are claims that after a second course of treatment, results can last up to 18 months. (But Botox is still the most popular, with over 5 million injections last year, up from 4.6 million in 2007). (Also of note: Reloxin, a possible Botox rival expected to be approved by the FDA later this year, is currently used in two dozen countries. It will have a lower price tag than Botox, and boasts reportedly similar results to Botox.)

So after noting that I’d like to focus on the area around my mouth (and he doesn’t disagree), we head over to the table. He checks my pulse and looks at my tongue–- standard acupuncture intake. He says I look a little off-balance.

He feels around my abdomen. At the point right below the diaphragm there is some discomfort. A-ha! The stomach affects the area around the mouth. Mark puts a needle two inches below and to the right of the knee and a pulsing sensation begins. He puts his hand back on my stomach and the discomfort is completely gone. He adds a few more needles–- one to the left hand, right foot and the crown of the head.

Now for the face: He gently places a needle on either side of my mouth and then two more a little further from the center of the face. All is good. But when two more go in closer to the ears, I get that woozy beads-of-sweat-all-over-the-body sensation. Did I mention my fear of needles? He removes the last two. A little deep breathing and I’m back to normal. He leaves me alone for the best part of acupuncture– a trip to that special place somewhere between sleep and consciousness.

Twenty or so minutes later I float back to Planet Earth feeling remarkably calm. On my way out I stop at the mirror to check out the reflection. No longing for Restylane. No signs of stress. I had a certain glow. It’s simple to see that a full course of treatment would produce significant effects.

That evening I sleep better than in weeks. And there’s no better way to get a luminescent complexion than a good night’s rest. Sign me up for round two.

~Lisa Germinsky

Tree of Life Acupuncture
32 Union Square East #804

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