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LAB RAT:

THE
ACUPUNCTURE
FACIAL

VIOLET GREY senior art director discovers how 90 tiny needles can help with wrinkles, skin texture, increased glow, and, in some cases, even acne.


Written ByCARRIE BARBER

Alexander Straulino / Trunk Archive

I have been seeing Dr. Patti Kim, a naturopath and acupuncturist, for about two years—at first to address low-energy and hormonal imbalances, then that turned into weekly sessions for my sanity. A few months ago, after I told her I had Botox, she replied with “we can do acupuncture for that.” Naturally, she piqued my interest because anything that offers lifting and tightening: I am here for it.

I first tried acupuncture 10 years ago after two emergency room visits in one week for debilitating migraines. After a bad reaction to the medication I was prescribed, it was clear to me that western medicine wasn’t the answer. After only five sessions, my migraines disappeared and I have been migraine-free ever since. I now try acupuncture first for just about any physical or emotional ailment.

Dr. Kim is one of those really good doctors you find every once in a while. The type that acts as doctor, healer and oftentimes therapist. I enjoy the acupuncture, but I enjoy my time with her more. She also has a beautiful off-white standard poodle named Olive, who always greets me at the door when I walk into her West Hollywood office.

For those who have not tried acupuncture, it works like this: In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is tied to the belief that disease is caused by disruptions to the flow of energy, or qi (pronounced ‘chee’), in the body. Acupuncture stimulates points on or under the skin called acupuncture or acupressure points, releasing this qi which then travels through channels called meridians. Basically, it helps move stagnant energy or brings energy to a certain place in the body. This may sound woo-woo but I personally have used acupuncture for a range of ailments including anxiety, painful cramps, water retention, digestion, back pain, and even draining a fever. And now for cosmetic reasons.
With facial acupuncture, the premise is the same: It brings qi into the face and scalp, stimulating blood flow and in turn stimulating collagen production, improving skin texture, and helping to heal acne and acne scars. For me, at 31, Dr. Kim recommends this as a preventative treatment to help with texture and acne. For those with deeper wrinkles or who are after lift, she recommends up to 10 treatments.

This was very different than my normal acupuncture treatment as I immediately felt the blood and energy being brought up into my face. We started as we normally do: Dr. Kim laid me down and checked my pulse to see what my body needed. I had some anxiety and was about to get my period so she added some body points in addition to the needles she put in my face. She used different needles for the face—they’re smaller and much shorter, and don’t go in as deeply as the body needles.

It took her about 15 minutes to place over 90 needles in my face. She started with the scalp and hairline and then moved down onto my face, starting with my forehead and ending with my jawline. I have no problem with needles and usually don’t feel them with body treatments. With the face, I did subtly notice them, especially around my nose and cheeks. Once they were all in, she guided me through breath work and set an intention for me while I rested.
Twenty minutes later, Dr. Kim woke me up from what felt like a three-hour nap. She took out all the needles and finished with a really good facial massage with rose toner and face oil.
When I got up I felt refreshed and had a burst of energy. My skin looked good and was glowing, but I didn’t notice a difference until the next morning when I washed my face and felt my baby skin. It was the smoothest I have ever experienced, even more so than after an exfoliating treatment. Each day following, the texture continued to improve, the glow brightened, and my complexion felt more even and clear. I also got a ton of compliments. Not that that really matters—this is definitely something I am adding to my monthly routine for me.


Photography by ALEXANDER STRAULINO / Trunk Archive