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'Acupuncture made me look healthier'





Cosmetic acupuncture counts Gwyneth Paltrow, Kim Kardashian and Angelina Jolie amongst its celebrity fans.

Cosmetic acupuncture, its practitioners claim, can help reduce a double chin and fine lines and improve the appearance of deeper wrinkles. It also gets rid of dark circles and bags under the eyes and generally brightens the complexion, while the needles stimulate collagen production, something we tend to lose after the age of 25.

I'm not expecting to get the skin of a newborn after my first acupuncture session (12 sessions are recommended, approximately weekly, over two to four months) but I am curious to see if it will bring any improvements. And at least, unlike with Botox and fillers, I don't have to worry about emerging with a puffed-up face.

Bridget McManus, a registered acupuncturist based in Marino and Clontarf Holistic Centre, Dublin, starts by taking some of my details - sleep patterns, general health - and follows this with a tongue and pulse diagnosis.

Then it's onto the therapy bed, where Bridget starts the session by placing some fine needles in my feet and legs, in places that correlate to areas of the face. The treatment is tailored to an individual's needs and in my case, I'm worried about fine lines around my eyes and my nasolabial folds, also known as laughter lines. She then inserts around 20-30 needles in my face.

Does it hurt? Not in the least, but for a moment of vague discomfort when she places a needle in my leg, in a point known as Stomach 39, an area related to the spleen and stomach, but this was a feeling of release and not pain.

It's mostly relaxing, to the point that you'd drop off. Mid way through the session, she turns the needles so they'll have maximum effect and after 50 minutes she removes them. The session ends with a 10-minute pressure-point massage.

The results? Most definitely healthier-looking skin, a certain glow, and a decrease in the usual puffiness around my eyes. That night, for the first time in weeks, I sleep wonderfully. I don't think my fresher face is just wishful thinking either, as the next day a friend who didn't know about the cosmetic acupuncture, remarks on my complexion.

One session costs €50 in comparison to the €200 or so you might pay for Botox.

Fiona, 44, and a mother of one from Dublin, is on her eighth session, and says she can see and feel a visible difference.

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"The first thing I notice is I am less tired looking. My skin feels spongy again, and definitely more firm. I have full movement and don't look like I have had any work done, but definitely people are commenting that I am looking well," she says.

"This is also down to the fact that acupuncture is helping me to sleep better, I am getting a full eight hours since starting the treatment. Before that my sleeping pattern was very broken. Bridget had targeted areas of concern for me, like sluggish digestion so with that now working better, I think it shows in my skin and eyes, which are brighter."

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