On a recent segment of a San Francisco, California-based news show “Bay Area Focus,” acupuncturist and permanent-makeup artist Kim Peirano discussed how acupuncture can be used to do many of the things dermal fillers like Botox can do. According to Peirano, by injecting an acupuncture needle into areas of wrinkled skin, the treatment can actually regenerate collagen, causing the wrinkle to fill in naturally. But is this true? Or just an old wives’ tale?
“In theory, it sounds like it could work,” says Dr. Bruce Chau, a plastic surgeon in Berkeley, Michigan. “It sounds very similar to the microneedling procedure we use to regenerate collagen, but with some very big differences.”
And those differences could be the key.
“When you use an acupuncture needle in a wrinkle, you most likely will need to treat that same wrinkle over and over for it to stimulate the collagen. It could take up to 10 sessions before you notice any difference – if you notice any difference at all,” says Chau.
On the other hand, with procedures like microneedling, you can expect the same amount of pain, but in a much shorter time span.
“Depending on what issues you are trying to address, microneedling is usually not required for very long,” says Chau. “Most issues require four to six treatments about four to six weeks apart. And the results last up to six months, depending on how many treatments you get initially.”
On the other hand, Botox can be administered in under 30 minutes, and the results can last up to six months, with no repeat treatments needed until the initial injection has dissipated.
“Botox is probably a bit more expensive than acupuncture, but if you’re looking at 10 sessions of acupuncture to reduce the appearance of a wrinkle, it’s probably a lot easier to just get one Botox session and not worry about it for six months,” says Chau. “Both will still hurt, but why keep coming back to get needled again and again if you can do it once?”
Though Chau thinks more modern wrinkle-relaxing methods are better than acupuncture, he still believes the ancient medicinal system is beneficial and can be used to treat a variety of ailments.
“There are many peresults ople who get great from acupuncture, and I think it’s a very viable option for many things, but I also know that there are faster and easier ways to improve the appearance of the skin, and most people don’t really want to wait months to see results,” he says.