Can Acupuncture Reverse Wrinkles and Sags?

For centuries, when China's rich and famous started to grow wrinkled and saggy with age, they fought back with a form of acupuncture known as mei zen, which means "beautiful person." Not long ago, this technique arrived in the United States, giving Americans an alternative to Botox, fillers and plastic surgery. Mei zen is a course of 10 acupuncture treatments, in which very fine needles are inserted into the skin.

"Cosmetic acupuncture can minimize wrinkles, it can minimize fine lines, erase the fine lines," says licensed acupuncturist Emily Glasser. "It can improve your complexion, it can improve your overall health. And it's just going to make you look younger and feel younger. "Those needles," she continues, are actually stimulating your own body's physiology to produce collagen and elastin, which are the key factors to filling in those fine lines, leveling out those wrinkles," Glasser said.

Proponents also believe cosmetic acupuncture is less invasive and risky than Botox injections or facial plastic surgery. Moreover, it's cheaper - $1,300 for the 10 treatments. "With cosmetic acupuncture, there's really no risk of scarring, there's no pain involved, there's no recovery time and, in fact, you will leave feeling better than when you came in," Glasser said.

But critics say the procedure's efficacy hasn't been scientifically proven. "At this point," says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. James Chao of the University of California at San Diego, "there is no evidence-based medicine that says that acupuncture diminishes wrinkles or produces extra collagen. At this point, acupuncture is being done for other modalities, acupuncture is well-regulated and is safe. So I don't think there is any harm in doing that. The question is, is there an effect?"


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