While needles delivering muscle relaxants and dermal fillers are commonplace, the notion of applying the ancient practice of acupuncture to facial rejuvenation is still somewhat new. However, Claire O’Mara, Chinese Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Consultant at Shape Clinic and MediSpa in Darlinghurst, Sydney, sees a realistic benefit in the clients she treats with Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture.

O’Mara began her career as a Registered Nurse, working in London and Sydney. Whilst working in London, she assisted a successful acupuncturist in a chronic pain relief centre at Hammersmith Hospital. Witnessing the results achieved by there inspired her further study to become a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. After graduating from the Sydney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Jiang Xi University Hospital in China, O’Mara was employed as a Chinese Practitioner at the Pain Relief Clinic, in Darlinghurst, Sydney, caring for patients with both chronic and acute needs.

Now working alongside plastic surgeon Dr Steven Liew, O’Mara says her experience in Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture and anti-ageing treatments allows “a non-surgical and patient-specific care plan designed for each individual involving multiple modalities to achieve the best result.

“We utilise a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, home skincare, chemical and resurfacing peels, laser treatments and injectable treatments such as fillers and Botox, as well as surgical interventions for the face and body.”

According to O’Mara, cosmetic acupuncture became recognised as a speciality in hospitals in China in the 1970s. In the last 20 years the practice has gained popularity for anti-ageing and aesthetic therapies in Japan, America, Sweden and Australia. “In this time, Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture became more specialised and advanced – leading to the newest techniques we use in practice today: employing traditional and modern techniques utilising an intricate knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the skin, muscles and organs to achieve the best result for each candidate,” O’Mara said.

Cosmetic acupuncture is a non-invasive approach to facial rejuvenation that can be used simultaneously or as an alternative to other procedures. It comprises the use of traditional and modern acupuncture techniques to achieve cosmetic results. Cosmetic acupuncture is suitable for all skin types. It poses no long-lasting side effects or allergic reactions to the treatment, and does not compromise facial mobility or expressions. Aesthetic results are achieved without injections or surgery and best results are achieved on those with the initial or early signs of ageing although visible results are still achieved on a mature skin.

How exactly does it work?
As O’Mara explains: Traditional Acupuncture works to correct imbalances in the body from the inside to improve the appearance. Optimal functioning of our body is dependent upon the physical, mental, emotional, and dietary and lifestyle choices we make. Modern lifestyle makes it hard to maintain a perfect regime of exercise, diet and stress relief, which cause imbalances in our body.

Acupuncture works to aid digestion, stimulate the metabolism, increase energy, relieve pain, improve circulation, facilitate better sleeping patterns and tonify the immune system. By treating the underlying causes of ageing we can improve the quality and functioning of the skin and muscles, making it look better on the surface.

Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is more specific. It works on the principle that beauty radiates from the inside out. If the inner body is nourished and the Qi (or energy) is flowing smoothly, then the external body will reveal this radiance. Cosmetic treatments for the face are designed specifically for the individual, to achieve certain goals or improve a particular area. Ultra fine needles are used locally to produce the desired effect. For example, releasing the contracture of the muscle between our eyebrows, causing us to frown – even when we are not angry or upset. This alternative treatment is an opportunity for those who wish to prevent ageing in their younger years, and is unique in that it is the only aesthetic therapy that improves your health.

Benefits of cosmetic acupuncture include the elimination of fine lines or diminishing larger wrinkles around the eyes, nose and forehead as well as improving circulation of Qi and blood to the face. This has the effect of nourishing, toning and boosting the elasticity of the skin and underlying muscles. Increased collagen production hydrates the skin and aids to fill out fine lines and reduce deeper folds. A boost in metabolism relieves dark circles under the eyes and the puffiness associated with the elimination of excess fluids. The complexion also benefits from the regulation in hormones to reduce the appearance of blemishes, as well as simply relieving stress evident in the face.

How long do results last in general?
Facial rejuvenation treatments are combined with the traditional acupuncture to ensure a holistic treatment with good therapeutic benefits. A course of treatments is required to produce long-lasting results, although people can respond immediately from the first treatment by simply relieving the stress evident in their face. Typically, a course entails 10 to 15 sessions, then employing top-up treatments every month or so to maintain the effect.

“I have patients at different stages of their treatments, at any one time at the clinic. Some undergoing a course of treatments, and others just requiring top-up treatments from time to time,” O’Mara said.

According to O’Mara, many clients seeking a natural or preventative option prefer to stimulate the change within their own system rather than relying on an injectable substance. Facial rejuvenation acupuncture is popular with those who wish to preserve their full range of facial expressions – such as actresses. “I would say a majority of my patients have a younger skin, and are maintaining the freshness of their skin with acupuncture only. In saying that, I still have patients with a mature skin who have fantastic results.”

Combining treatments is common, O’Mara says. “I find a multi-tiered approach provides faster and longer-lasting results. I employ other professional treatments if that is the best modality to achieve the result desired by the patient. This can include some laser treatments for pigment or redness in the skin or injectable treatments for deeper lines and wrinkles. Some of my patients combine acupuncture with occasional Botox and laser treatments, others prefer to only employ alternative therapies. Some patient’s are not good candidate’s for Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, as a professional I would advise them on the procedures suitable for the effect they would like to achieve .

“Wrinkles are divided into two categories: static and dynamic wrinkles. Dynamic wrinkles appear when your face moves, for example, smiling. Static wrinkles are always present. Dynamic wrinkles respond better to an injectable like Botox, whereas skin quality, hydration and muscle tone will be better addressed with facial acupuncture and skincare. They each can be used effectively as an independent treatment, or combined to achieve the best results for each area. Some patients, as they age, further choose to combine treatments to get the desired effect.”

O’Mara says the results of a course of facial rejuvenation acupuncture should have long-lasting effects by addressing the imbalances in the body causing the ageing process to accelerate. So the patient’s body is functioning more efficiently and looking better. This will always require top-up treatments to maintain the effects, as the body continues to respond to our lifestyle and emotions. In contrast, Botox treatments last three to four months, with the patient requiring less product and a lesser dose after regular usage of the product. Dermal fillers last four to nine months, depending on the type of filler.

Because facial rejuvenation acupuncture brings a lot of qi to the face, and to the surface of the skin, a complete medical history must be taken to assess each patient is a good candidate for the treatment. Lifestyle should also be assessed, as if you are not working with a similar idea, the patient will have a poor response. Some treatments bring too much qi to the head, for example, so for patients with a history of high blood pressure or migraines, this could bring on an attack. A patient with bruising problems would not be a good candidate for this treatment, as they would not be indicated to regular treatments involving multiple needles in their face.

O’Mara adds that other contra-indications are: a history of immuno-defiency, Tinnitus or Meniere’s Disease, some previous facial surgery, active contagious skin diseases and viruses, pacemakers, pituitary disorders, diabetes, pregnancy or directly after some cosmetic treatments such as laser/ Botox/ chemical peels or before a special event.

For O’Mara, each consultation and treatment is specific. “I like to treat patients with a multi-level approach to instigate the changes in their skin and appearance. I like to incorporate some active skincare ingredients and Chinese herbs to ensure they are looking better and feeling well. Sleeping well, exercising and a good diet are imperative the success of any treatment of this kind. I try and get my patients to be really good 80 per cent of the time, but still enjoy themselves. Someone who is happy and relaxed is a treatment in itself!”

Shape Clinic and MediSpa,
Suite 109, 19A Boundary Street, Darlinghurst, NSW, 2010. Ph: (02) 8356 2888.

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