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Acupuncture: this form of Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used to rejuvenate the face for more than 4,000 years, but lately it has gained popularity as a nonsurgical facelift. The reason? “Baby boomers are getting older and looking for a natural, organic process for renewal,” says Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, a licensed acupuncturist in New York City who teaches a kind of facial acupuncture she calls “constitutional facial renewal technique.”

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Natural Radiance—RX-Wrinkles

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By Susan Gilbert

Are those smile lines around your eyes no longer a laughing matter? Do you have a worry furrow on your forehead no matter how relaxed your mood? Are you weighing the pros and cons of plastic surgery? Try another option instead—acupuncture.

This form of Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used to rejuvenate the face for more than 4,000 years, but lately it has gained popularity as a nonsurgical facelift. The reason? “Baby boomers are getting older and looking for a natural, organic process for renewal,” says Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, a licensed acupuncturist in New York City who teaches a kind of facial acupuncture she calls “constitutional facial renewal technique.”

Before treatment, a candidate for facial acupuncture starts with a health evaluation to assess the constitution of her body and potential imbalances. Only then does the acupuncturist decide the specifics of treatment. The procedure entails placing anywhere from 30 to 40 fine needles into points in the face. Afterward, the acupuncturist commonly applies herbal masks and creams, both to soothe the treated skin and as part of the overall skin-enhancing process.

This treatment, acupuncturists say, promotes the flow of energy or qi (pronounced “chi”) to the face, which increases blood flow, stimulates collagen production, improves muscle tone, and even corrects hormonal imbalances that can cause acne.

Wrinkles soften after just one treatment, Wakefield says, and after seven visits the face is noticeably “lifted.” After 10 to 15 sessions, Wakefield says, “You can look as good as if you’d had a facelift.”

Typical results include decreased fine and deep lines, reduction of under-eye bags, firmer eyelids, tighter pores, brighter skin tone, and softer, more elastic skin. The results can last a few years, according to Wakefield, provided that you have monthly maintenance treatments and a healthy lifestyle.

Facial acupuncture has several advantages over a facelift. While you may experience some discomfort or pain, there is no recovery time or scarring. It may also be cheaper: A facelift can run $4,500 to $15,000, whereas cosmetic acupuncture costs anywhere from $90 to $350 a session.

Another advantage? Many people report improved sleep and digestion after facial acupuncture, according to Mable Cheung, a licensed acupuncturist in Windsor, Ontario. “It’s a two-for-one deal.”

To find a licensed practitioner trained in Wakefield’s technique, go to www.chiakra.com/referrals.htm .

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