Cosmetic Acupuncture: The New Acupuncture Face Lift

Natasha Calzatti for The New York TimesThe latest trend in the quest for youthful skin is acupuncture face-lifts. Devotees tout its holistic approach to solve the problem of aging skin. There are several theories purported to explain the effects. One expert claims that the tiny needles induce new collagen growth, another states simply that the procedure “heals from the inside out,” and a third actually uses tiny electric currents to stimulate muscle growth, thereby increasing muscle volume. However, not all “experts” agree that this will improve your wrinkles:

Not likely, said Dr. Richard D’Amico, the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

‘First of all, increasing tone does not increase muscle volume,’ said Dr. D’Amico, an assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. [Moreover] ‘… anything that stimulates muscles will cause skin to fold even more and the wrinkles will get worse.’

Think about it. If simply contracting your muscles increased muscle size, then I would have massive fingers from all the typing I do and huge jaws from talking all day long. It doesn’t make sense.

As for the stimulation of new collagen, there are technologies such as Fraxel® lasers that blast microscopic holes in the skin which do induce new collagen growth. You would need literally thousands of acupuncture needles to equal one treatment of Fraxel, and it takes multiple Fraxel treatments to produce subtle results.

I believe in acupuncture; controlled studies have shown it can effectively treat conditions like chronic pain and high blood pressure. I believe that many medical or laser treatments are no better than acupuncture at treating wrinkles.

I want you to be an educated consumer. Before plunking down thousands of dollars ask:

  • What is the evidence for this procedure?
  • Has it been published in respected journals, such as the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology or Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery?
  • Do you have photos from your office to demonstrate minimal, modest, and excellent results?

Photo by Natasha Calzatti for The New York Times.

Dermatology Chair Warns of Unproven Cosmetic Devices

At a recent dermatology meeting Dr. Christopher Zachary, a well know cosmetic and laser dermatologist and department chair, warned that the dermatology profession risks losing its credibility by promoting devices that just don’t work. Zachary cautioned doctors to be wary about purchasing devices that are popular but unproven.

In buying a new laser, doctors “can spend $200,000 to make patients look better. Some of them work; most of them don’t,” he told the panel, held at UCI. Zachary told the panel that, although many lasers and similar devices produce little, if any, actual change in patients, doctors still make presentations at medical conferences about the new technology…. “There’s a problem here. I go to lecture after lecture, and I think that if someone went to the podium with a carousel and the slides slipped out, they wouldn’t know which was the ‘pre’ picture and which was ‘post,” he said.

For both physicians and patients, buyer beware.

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