I’m lying on a bed, but instead of a doctor’s office or spa I'm in a company meeting room, in my office, and instead of calming whale noises there's a steady chime of fire engines and car horns from the street, but regardless, Dr Vivian Tam is about to delicately poke some needles into my face.
I'm seeing Dr Vivian for facial acupuncture, which sounds scary but trust me it’s actually not. Facial acupuncture, also known as cosmetic acupuncture and facial rejuvenation, has been widely used (for more than 5000 years) to “assist in softening lines and wrinkles, lifting sagging, increasing firmness and boosting blood circulation” as Dr Vivian details on her website, and this is the first time I've tried it.
^ Sorry if you're squeamish.
Very fine needles are gently inserted into your face through the skin and into the muscle layer. I had nine needles stuck in my face and, when inserted, they felt like I had someone very softly pricking me with a pin, and I barely felt it. I can’t emphasise enough that it didn’t hurt (promise).
Each needle is inserted into various points on your face, which target specific concerns and lines. Needle placement might vary from person to person.
Dr Vivian warned me that some people might experience bruising where a needle is placed, but this is very uncommon and I wasn’t worried. However that evening, about five hours after my treatment, I noticed a faint, tiny purple spot on my face about the size of a pearl pin head. The bruise wasn’t sore or tender and has faded almost completely overnight. I also very easily covered it with concealer.
The benefit of cosmetic acupuncture over invasive treatments is that it requires no downtime, is natural and chemical-free, non-toxic and targets more than one area of concern each session. Cosmetic acupuncture also works to heal your skin and force it to repair from the inside, rather than treating the problems as they arise.
Along with the actual acupuncture treatment, Dr Vivian addressed some of my other health concerns through traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which is common practice when you book in for treatment. The skin on your face is connected to your entire body, so digestion issues, stress and anxiety can all manifest themselves as problems on your face and TCM looks to address the issue as a whole. It was also a very relaxing process, even though I had gone from my computer to the treatment and back to work.
The areas of concern for me when it comes to my skin are sun damage, dehydration and a few fine lines from frowning and stress. Dr Vivian recommends 6-8 treatments to see results, however I think my ‘elevens’ lines (vertical lines between your eyebrows) were significantly reduced from just one treatment, possibly due to muscle relaxation.
Acupuncture is used to treat a variety of concerns from quitting smoking, adult acne, anxiety and sleep problems however facial acupuncture is the next big thing in anti-ageing, and something to try if you are looking for a non-invasive treatment that is remarkably relaxing, even if someone is sticking needles in your face.