If you are after easing the sands of time a little, options have traditionally involved either surgery, fillers or botox. Increasingly people are turning to acupuncture as a way of enhancing and rejuvenating their looks. In this blog post I am looking at the two treatments and how they stack up.
What is it – Botox is a drug made from neurotoxin called botulinum toxin. The toxin comes from the bacteria that causes Botulism , a rare but life threatening disease that attacks the nervous system.
Scientist have estimated that 1 gram of Botulinum toxin could kill around one million people. Never the less it is generally well tolerated when injected into human beings in the correctly diluted levels.
It is important to distinguish between Butolinum Toxin and Botox. Botox is one of many commercially adapted Butolinum Toxin products. Whilst it is most famously known for cosmetic treatments, it has a range of clinical applications including involuntary muscular spasm, eye blinking, underarm sweating, and on some circumstances overactive bladder. More recently it has been reported as benefiting migraine though the evidence of this is disputed.
The first licensed use of Botox for cosmetic reasons was in 2002 and since then it has enjoyed increasing popularity, probably due to its use by the rich and famous, many of whom have spoken openly about their own treatments. It is now the most popular cosmetic procedure with in excess of 6 million treatments worldwide.
Treatments involve injecting botox into the face causing temporary muscular paralysis which helps to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. The results are reported to last between 4 to 6 months. Side effects to treatment are rare but wide ranging and can be life threatening including: Problems swallowing, speaking, or breathing.
Prices seem to vary greatly from place to place and may not be openly advertised. People on the Money Saving Expert forum I looked at seemed to be paying around £150 per facial area in 2009, most needing 3 areas injecting. The NHS website and many other resources recommend that you find a suitably qualified therapist to carry out your procedure however, providers of cosmetic treatments that do not involve surgery don’t have to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is the independent regulator for health services in England. Many providers of services in non regulated industries will belong to a professional body of some sort and qualify their standards by declaring “Member of such and such professional body”. The reality is that these professional bodies too are often unregulated so these words alone mean nothing. You would need to do a bit of homework to satisfy yourself of the level of training and expertise your therapist has.
Acupuncture is a system of health that traces its routes through a rich and varied history back to ancient China. It involves the insertion of tiny needles into the body at specific points to illicit a specific clinical effect.
Whilst existing in european countries for hundreds of years, it started to gather in popularity in the 1970’s.
Research into acupuncture dates back to the beginning of the 1800’s but really gathered momentum in the 1950’s when Chairman Mao invested heavily in Chinese research facilities. It is now probably the most researched complementary medicine in the world.
Facial Enhancement Acupuncture, also referred to as Cosmetic Acupuncture, is a relatively new application though it is starting to get quite a name for itself in the beauty industry. It is believed that the small trauma caused by an acupuncture needle causes the body to regenerate its naturally occurring elastin and collagen which gently and eases the signs of ageing with repeated application.
Treatment involves the insertion of many tiny needles into the skin along lines, furrows or damaged areas (such as from acne). Some practitioners include other techniques like massage, to supplement treatment. A properly trained traditional acupuncturist is also likely to take a full case history and address underlying health and well being issues. Optimal results are said to be achieved after a course of regular treatment, between 6 and 10, after which periodic sessions to keep things topped up are recommended.
Side effects to acupuncture are also rare. As with an injection, you may experience bruising at a needle site. This is rare and a well trained practitioner will be able to minimise the effects with good after care however on the occasions when treatment does leave its mark you can expect the bruise to clear within a few days. For these reasons most credible acupuncturists will recommend that you don’t have treatment within 2 weeks of a big occasion. More information on side effects and their prevalence can be found at the British Acupuncture Council Website, www.acupuncture.org.uk
As with non surgical cosmetic procedures, acupuncture in the UK is unregulated and some individuals have sought to exploit this by offering their services with minimal training. A good measure of quality is the educational level of your therapist. Traditional acupuncturists have studied a 3 year degree course or equivalent. This level is a minimum requirement to become a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) so if your therapist belongs to this organisation you can be absolutely assured of the highest standards. Other providers of cosmetic acupuncture are likely to be doing acupuncture as a supplement to their main discipline i.e. physio’s, osteopaths etc. The amount of training varies greatly from 1 day to more formalised week long courses.
Cost again varies and tends to be region specific. In central London you could be paying anywhere up to £250 per session. Elsewhere anything up to £80 is reasonable though this is not to say that those charging more are ripping you off. They may be offering a very deluxe product. Most acupuncturists are very transparent with their pricing so it should be easy to compare costs within your area.
If you are interested in trying out facial enhancement acupuncture the feel free to give me a call or book in for a session at one of my clinics in Girton and Ely.