What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine-based approach to treating a variety of conditions by triggering specific points on the skin with needles. This is done by placing needles into specific points on the skin to help activate and move an energy in the body. The needles are placed into energy channels in the body called meridians. Through thousands of years of learning, traditional Chinese medicine has compiled very complete and complex systems of meridians. The acupuncturist puts needles into those meridians to help regulate and move the body back to homeostasis, or wellness.

 These needles are not hypodermic needles that you may be used to with your typical vaccines and blood draws. Acupuncture needles are solid, stainless steel needles that are usually not much larger than a strand of hair. Acupuncture needles will typically go between tissues, making them less painful as well. You shouldn’t ever feel pain, typically you will feel something similar to a bug bite.

Frequently Asked Questions

The acupuncturist will ask about your medical history and symptoms. They’ll also do an exam — similar to what you’d experience in a doctor visit. In addition, they may feel your pulse or look at your tongue. This is a way for them to find any imbalances in your body. They’ll typically treat what’s bothering you, plus any other underlying conditions that may be connected.

Acupuncture needles are less than a hundredth of the size of the standard hypodermic needle that you’re used to getting your shots with. That means it's much less painful, and almost always pain free! Paige always asks if there are any areas of the body that you would like to avoid needling and whether you would like to try your first appointment face down or face up. You can either inspect the needles or go the entire treatment without seeing them at all. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable is what we will do! 

Most acupuncture treatments start out with about 10 needles total, until you work your way up to around 20 body needles per treatment at most. Paige will feel your pulse in your wrist many times throughout the treatment to diagnose and treat you, all of which will take around 20 minutes. You’ll rest with the needles in for about 15-20 minutes and then Paige will come back to pull the needles. You’ll also have a button to contact Paige at any time if anything is uncomfortable.

Cosmetic treatments are quite a bit different. They start out the same as your regular acupuncture treatment, Paige will feel your pulse and ask a few questions before inserting around 10-20 needles in your body. Then, she will put even smaller needles all around your face or neck. It can be quite a few more needles than a regular acupuncture treatment, so Paige recommends getting at least 3 regular treatments before starting cosmetic acupuncture. Cosmetic appointments will still take 1 hour.

No! Acupuncture needles are about as thin as a hair, so you should hardly feel them! It is very good to feel a very slight itch, pressure, ache, or warmth around the needle but never pain. At the very worst, it feels like a bug bite or light pinch when the needle is inserted. Cosmetic Acupuncture in the face can be more prone to feeling more intense due to the sensitivity of the face, however it should still never hurt more than a slight pinch.

Acupuncture is an individualized medicine, which means results vary for every person. Some people will have total results after 1 treatment, however most patients see results within 2-3 months of weekly treatment. After your first treatment, you should sleep better and feel more energized. After a couple of treatments, you may start to see some gradual results that build up as you progress through your treatments. Some issues may not ever completely resolve due to severity and longevity of the problem, however you will almost always have improvements and better quality of life.

Cosmetic treatments vary with results as well, depending on severity. Paige has resolved a few patients' acne with a single treatment, however this is uncommon and only seen in very mild cases. Most acne will take 3 months or longer to resolve and hyperpigmentation and scarring can take longer. It is important to note that the popular acne pharmaceutical Accutane takes a minimum of 6 months to completely resolve, so this timespan is not uncommon for acne. Wrinkles typically take 5 weeks of twice a week treatment for improvement and not all wrinkles can be eliminated with acupuncture, however you will see a significant improvement in texture of skin and fine lines in those 5 weeks.

Dry Needling is how the west discovered Acupuncture. In the 1940’s Dr. Janet Travell found that injecting muscle knots and painful areas of the body with liquid painkillers worked very well for pain. They called this “wet needling” using drugs such as lidocaine. In an effort to reduce drug tolerance they started using saline, which worked just as well to their surprise. This led them to wonder if they needed to inject anything at all and used thinner needles- acupuncture needles. They called this “dry needling” and found that it worked just as well as injecting medications when they used a technique called “trigger point” dry needling to physically break up muscle knots from the inside of the body. 

Acupuncturists in the west have slowly started to adopt this trigger point style, Paige had the honor of studying under a master of the style in two of her classes at CSTCM. However, acupuncturists never use just trigger points. They use full body points to get to the root of the pain, and then may do a few trigger points to address the problem for more short term relief. Trigger points only work for muscle pain, however acupuncture can address much deeper problems and stimulates the body’s natural painkiller hormone.

Cosmetic Acupuncture works by stimulating the dermis layer of your skin, which is where collagen and elastin are built. This is deeper than microneedling can go and therefore more effective than microneedling, not to mention less painful with less side effects(no need to hide your face for a week). It takes 4 to 5 weeks for your collagen and elastin to regrow and become more stable, so it is best to have come in twice a week for 5 weeks. So, by regulating the underlying issues causing the condition while stimulating collagen and elastin production, cosmetic acupuncture can treat many skin conditions. Cosmetic acupuncture can work wonderfully for acne, acne scarring, dermatitis, melasma, wrinkles, extra skin from weight loss- even that stubborn belly fat that just wont seem to go away.

The only side effect that cosmetic acupuncture could possibly have is that you may experience very small bruises occasionally, although this is somewhat rare and depends on how easily you bruise.