Beauty for Life

September/October 2005
By Lorraine H. Harris, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M., & MTOM

Despite our best efforts to save our skin from fine lines and wrinkles, these age markers will inevitably sneak up on us no matter what we do. Yes, the effects of Father Time are inescapable. But don’t lose hope: You can reverse the aging process naturally by throwing away those under-eye moisturizers, age intervention face serums and anti-wrinkle creams and investing in cosmetic acupuncture to get back that glowing, deliciously youthful face of days past.

Cosmetic acupuncture has been used by the Chinese for thousands of years. Its biggest advantage over more modern conventional approaches, such as the facelift, is that it’s a relatively painless procedure requiring virtually no recovery time. Traditional Chinese medicine views the human body as a complex network of major energy channels called meridians. These meridians are present throughout the entire body, and most have a relationship with one of our vital organs, including the heart, lung, liver, kidneys and spleen. They provide a transportation pathway for a vital life force known as chi (pronounced “chee”). When a meridian becomes blocked and the flow of chi is impeded, the body falls into a state of imbalance and disharmony. Removing these blockages enables the body to rebalance itself – a key component in the success of cosmetic acupuncture.

Mei Zen is one form of cosmetic acupuncture that is gaining popularity in the U.S. It incorporates unusual needling techniques, and its teachings are rooted in the Nei Jing – an ancient and revered Chinese medical text that stipulates the precise location and configuration of needles so that they can work synergistically to restore balance to the body.

A typical Mei Zen protocol consists of a series of hour-long treatments that occur twice a week for a minimum of five weeks. Small, hair-width needles are inserted into specific points just under the skin’s surface to promote change on three levels: 1.) The underlying restoration of health that shows naturally in our appearance; 2.) Improved circulation of blood and chi through the dilation of local blood vessels, resulting in better distribution of the nutrients that aid in cellular regeneration; and 3.) The increased production of elastin and collagen to reduce wrinkles.

As more nutrients are delivered to the skin, it looks younger and more supple, and develops a healthy glow. Over time, fine lines begin to disappear, deep lines get smoother and broken capillaries improve, as do skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. Those who have experienced cosmetic acupuncture often report experiencing warmth, tingling, lightness and lifting sensations immediately following a session, as well as an overall feeling of wellness.

Cosmetic acupuncture’s benefits go beyond the face – the abdomen is another area that yields excellent results. Treating your tummy to this procedure is a wonderful way to speed up the results of an exercise and weight-loss regimen. In addition to tightening and firming up your abs, the procedure can also boost fertility and even increase your sex drive.

The Mei Zen cosmetic acupuncture program focuses on establishing a life-long path for healthy living. One important component is the use of Chinese herbal formulas that contain ingredients known to benefit the skin and treat the body’s imbalances. These formulas are quite specific and are carefully blended in accordance with your individual needs. In addition, the procedure is coupled with food therapy, outlining a customized eating plan that will help rebalance body while nourishing the skin. Qigong exercise may also be added to the program to help restore your health and vitality.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture showed that of 300 people who received facial acupuncture, 90 percent saw marked improvements after one course of treatment. The length of time the results last depend on several factors, including your lifestyle, exercise regimen, nutrition plan and stress levels. In general, a well-managed regimen yields enormous benefits that go far beyond restoring a youthful appearance. Women who opt for facial acupuncture often have reduced depression, less anxiety, better digestion and sleep cycles, and fewer hot flashes and night sweats.

Of course, cosmetic acupuncture is not for everyone. A Mei Zen practitioner must carefully evaluate a client to determine its appropriateness and whether or not there are any underlying imbalances that must first be addressed. Pregnant women and those who suffer from serious chronic diseases, uncontrolled high blood pressure or seizure disorders, or have had a stroke, are not well suited for the procedure. That said, they may find relief from these conditions in other forms of traditional Chinese medicine.

Although there is no one way to smooth fine lines, cosmetic acupuncture is a logical and relatively inexpensive alternative. It truly is a time-tested solution to an age-old problem.