Beauty / Feature

Ask an expert: Acupuncturist Dr. Stephanie Flockhart on how to treat your body and cosmetic ailments

acupuncture

The rise in ancient therapies for both wellness and beauty is on the rise. The world at large is beginning to see the problems our modern lifestyles pose us. Looking instead to the old techniques, therapies and medicines that have been in use for thousands of years. 

Acupuncture is one of these forms of medicine. We spoke with Stephanie Flockhart, Dr. of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturist, about the principles of acupuncture, how it can positively affect our bodies as well as appearance and what treatments may be suited to you.  

 

What are the principles of acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a powerful tool within the realm of Traditional Chinese Medicine. For centuries, this ancient practice has embodied the “Holistic Health” ideal that is now becoming so popular in the wellness world.

Its philosophy embodies treating the whole person, body, mind, soul and spirit. The treatment approaches each person as a unique individual, and seeks to identify and treat the “root” cause of the ailment. Rather than solely band-aiding symptoms and treating them as a machine with parts.

What scientists have recently discovered is that 95% of illness is caused by stress. Chinese medicine has known about this for centuries. Acupuncture literally works through relaxing the nervous system, taking us out of fight or flight (stress) which, unfortunately in the modern world is most people's natural state of being.  

We have meridian or energy channels running all over our bodies. On these channels are the Acupuncture points, all of which have individual actions and healing properties. Acupuncture works by identifying where your energy is deficient or in excess along these channels, then selecting Acupuncture points to bring you back to balance. 

Disease is thought to start with an issue with the energy flow of the meridians or energy channels of the body. The symptoms start off very subtly, and are generally dismissed until they become impossible to ignore. Take a moment to check in and ask yourself; Do you feel calm? Energised after sleeping? Waking up exhausted? Tired or bloated after meals? A headache and tight shoulders after a long work day? Unfortunately the majority of people experience at least a couple of these symptoms weekly, if not daily. These minor ailments are all signs that your energy flow is out of balance. The aim of acupuncture is to use prevention as a cure, by keeping you in a calm, balanced state so your body can naturally heal itself. 

What are the benefits of cosmetic acupuncture?

I think the most important benefit is that it’s completely natural, with no side effects or down time following treatment. Young women and even young men these days are increasingly heading towards elective surgery. I think a big part of this comes from the ‘re-touching’ movement.

In 2019 facetune was Apple's most popular paid app… In the fall out of this, people are actively seeking to permanently ‘filterise’ their faces. They’re even bringing in selfies they’ve edited as references. It’s been heavily linked with body dysmorphic disorders as well. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons 2017 poll, 55 percent of facial plastic surgeons reported seeing patients who wanted surgeries to help them ‘look better in selfies’, up from 13 percent just a year before!. It frightens me to think what that percentage might be today.  What a lot of people don’t know about botox is that it’s actually a neurotoxin and if it crosses the blood-brain barrier there can be huge health consequences, especially with repeated use.

This is why I believe that Cosmetic Acupuncture is more important today than it has ever been. Not only is it a holistic approach to reversing the physical symptoms of ageing, but it also helps with embracing your appearance as a reflection of your inner wellbeing. Stress also has a huge impact on how we age, so naturally, acupuncture helps hugely with this as well. It’s not just a treatment that makes you feel better, the results are equally impressive. 

Acupuncture in general also benefits skin cells by improving digestion and regulating stress. This naturally increases the nutrition that we take from our food and can even increase the blood flow and lymphatic drainage to our face.

 

What ailments can this treat?

The treatment itself works on everything from fine lines, drooping/sagging skin, dryness, flakiness, dull complexion, hormonal acne, pigmentation, scarring, facial tension and uneven skin tone. The facial needles are inserted into the fine lines, motor points, and other areas of concern. This creates a tiny “microtrauma” to the area of insertion which prompts the body to produce collagen and elastin in response. 

Another technique we use works to specifically target sagging and drooping by needling into facial points to stimulate the muscle to tighten and strengthen, lifting certain areas of the face. Both of these techniques result in an increase of skin density and elasticity. Resulting in the improved overall plumpness, radiance and firmness of the skin. 

 

Is there any pain involved in the treatment?

No, The tiny needles that we used are extremely fine and inserted with a painless specialised technique. Most of my patients find it incredibly relaxing and even fall asleep sometimes. I also incorporate the use of Gua Sha, the facial roller and lymphatic drainage massage in my sessions. The benefits of these three ancient techniques are incredible and also painless.

 

What can someone expect to see after a treatment?

Clients are always very happy with the results! After the first 1-2 treatments people notice their skin appears more radiant, hydrated, and softer. Often reporting their makeup and skin products are “sitting better” on their face. This is due to the instant increase in blood flow that arrives to the face and skin during the Cosmetic Acupuncture session. The face also appears visibly relaxed with tension in the brow and jaw softening, as well as a more even, brighter complexion. 

However, the best overall changes happen after multiple sessions, with the face looking firmer, skin appears both taught and hydrated, and lines have visibly reduced. The complexion appears even, redness has diminished, break outs have cleared up and the pores are smaller. Patients also experience improvements in their overall health. Including a reduction in feelings of stress, improved sleep and digestion, as well as balanced hormones. 

 

How many treatments does one need to see results?

For best results, I recommend weekly treatments for ten to twelve weeks. Then maintenance sessions every four to eight weeks. To keep up the results and work on any underlying health issues that may be contributing to developing signs of aging, including stress, hormonal imbalance or digestive problems. When you’re feeling like a boost or have an event coming up it can be amazing to book a few sessions coming up to the date.