Nicely needled

Many of those with a bent for beauty and advancements in the world of all things appearance have experienced the power of the needle - be it botox, dermal fillers or some other such sacrifice made in the interest of good looks. They will be well versed in the power of a few needle pricks to change their appearance - for better or for worse - but how about all jammed in at once?
Enter Acupuncture Facial Renewal (A.F.R.), otherwise known as 'acupuncture facelift' or 'cosmetic acupuncture'. Whilst most people wouldn't mind looking a few years younger, the notion of allowing a surgeon to take a knife to your face is more than a little off-putting. As a non-surgical alternative, cosmetic acupuncture is proven to deliver a “fresh faced radiance” whilst addressing the underlying causes of ageing as an added bonus.
The roll call of appearance-related afflictions that A.F.R. can treat is seemingly endless - wrinkles, dark circles, puffiness, age spots, discolouration, enlarged pores, jowls - whilst it also acts to balance hormone levels in the body and moisturise the skin. A multifaceted treatment that can include a  mask, scrub and other modalities, it also takes into account the client's overall well being and factors such as gender, age and lifestyle.

Although relatively new to New Zealand, the practice of improving physical appearance with the help of cosmetic acupuncture has a history which dates back over 800 years to the Sun dynasty, when the empress and the emperor's concubines used it to maintain their “youthful allure”. In more recent years, one of the world's leading acupuncturists, Virginia Doran, has been instrumental in introducing the treatment to modern western culture and seen her work pop up on television shows like Sex & The City and applauded in beauty blogs in both the East and the West. Unsurprisingly, New York and Los Angeles waiting lists for the treatment are often over a year long and populated by the rich and famous (reportedly Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cher, amongst others), although the treatment is relatively inexpensive in comparison to some non-invasive cosmetic surgery.
In my experience A.F.R really is relatively painless too - a thorough eyebrow plucking from a trained beauty therapist can cause more eye-watering pain and flashbacks than ten acupuncture needles combined, whilst unlike the injection of potentially harmful chemicals into your skin, cosmetic acupuncture's only side effect is an improved sense of health alongside a glowing complexion. The needles are also very sharp and fine, thus lightly piercing the skin as opposed to cutting it like a their larger cousins.
But how does it actually work? A number of hair-thin needles are skilfully inserted into specific acupuncture points and manipulated to encourage blood and energy flow. This energy, or “life force”, is said to regulate the body's innate healing processes and invigorate the facial area. A complete treatment programme involves a series of 12 sessions, whilst the results I experienced from a “one off” were definitely above and beyond the average facial, plus I felt - as well as looked like - I'd had a week in Fiji. No arguing with that.


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