Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the longest established forms of healthcare in the world. Acupuncturists are trained to use subtle diagnostic techniques that have been developed and refined for thousands of years. Treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to affect the flow of your body’s Qi, or vital energy. Other techniques which may be used include:
Moxa – a smouldering herb is used to warm the skin
Cupping – a glass or plastic cup is suctioned onto your skin
Guasha – a blunt and smooth edge is scraped over your ski
Q. What is Moxa?
Moxibustion is an essential part of Chinese medicine which takes its name from moxa, a natural substance prepared from mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris). Moxa can be held just above the skin, or placed on top of an acupuncture needle or directly on the skin, usually over specific acupuncture points or meridians. The herb is then lit and as it slowly smoulders, heat permeates the skin and affects the flow of ‘qi’ (energy) and blood in the area being treated.
Most people find the gentle heating sensation of moxa treatment very pleasant. A practitioner will check that the level of heat is comfortable for the patient and ask them to say as soon as it feels too hot. This helps to ensure that treatment is safe and that the skin is not overheating.
Q. What is cupping?
Cupping involves applying suction to small areas of the skin through the application of rounded cups.
A vacuum is produced in each cup either by flame (fire-cupping) or by mechanical suction (suction cupping). Cupping causes skin and tissue to lift up into the cup resulting in small red spots and bruising under the skin. Sometimes marking can be more extensive if the practitioner uses a moving or sliding technique. The marks are a normal part of the therapeutic effect of treatment and will usually fade within five to ten days.
Q. What is guasha?
Guasha is defined as ‘instrument-assisted unidirectional press-stroking of a lubricated area of the body to intentionally create the release of blood under the surface of the skin’.
The marks made by the scraping tool used during guasha are similar to a rash or bruise and are part of the therapeutic effect. According to current medical research, guasha increases blood flow and produces an anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect that persists for days following a single1 treatment.
Guasha is used alongside acupuncture or as a stand-alone treatment.
Q. Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture practised by a properly trained practitioners is very safe. Serious side effects following acupuncture are uncommon, with research showing that on average only 1 in 10,000 treatments results in a significant side effect. Acupuncture is a skin piercing technique and like all skin piercing techniques (e.g. body piercing, tattooing) carries a risk of cross infection. By using single use, sterile, disposable needles and following British Acupuncture Association (BAA) guidelines with regard to cleanliness and hygiene standards, any risks are minimised.
Q. Does acupuncture have side-effects?
The most common side effects of acupuncture are:
Mild bruising at the site of the needle. The chance of bleeding or bruising during a Facial Enhancement Acupuncture treatment increases slightly as the skin is finer and there are significantly more fine blood vessels in the areas being worked on.
On occasion some aggravation of symptoms before improvement.
Drowsiness, tiredness, feeling relaxed or energised.
Feeling faint during treatment, although this is rare and most likely during the first treatment.
Q. Does acupuncture hurt?
Many people feel nothing during a treatment but others may feel the needle as it contacts the skin. After that it is not painful. You may experience some other sensation such as a pleasant tingling, itching, a feeling of pressure or movement or just an unknown feeling you’re not familiar with. These are all good signs and show the needle is working.
Q. What happens at my first appointment?
For both the medical and cosmetic acupuncture treatments, we always start with a consultation appointment. This will be either 1 or 1.5 hours depending on your individual case and condition. We discuss your current situation and cover your health history so that a Chinese Medicine diagnosis can be made and an individual treatment plan designed for you. The Facial Enhancement Acupuncture (FEA) or 'cosmetic acupuncture' consultation is shorter but we still cover aspects of your general health. Both types of consultation appointment incorporate a clearing treatment to prepare your body and Qi for the following sessions. The clearing treatment is done entirely on your back so you'll need to wear clothing which allows access to that area and you can either sit or lie face down, depending on which you find more comfortable.
Q. How often do I need treatment?
We normally start with weekly treatments until there is a sustained improvement in symptoms. Your practitioner will advise when it is possible to start extending the period between treatments to fortnightly, then monthly and sometimes even quarterly. Once your condition is under control, you may want to attend for maintenance treatments or even just for a boost or ‘tune-up’!
Facial Enhancement Acupuncture is ideally a course of 4-6 treatments which are best performed weekly. After the initial course and depending on the achieved and/or desired results, we discuss and establish an ongoing maintenance schedule of treatments which will vary for each client.
Q. How many treatments will I need?
This depends on the individual and the complaint we are treating. Some people respond more quickly to treatment than others and chronic conditions often take longer to address than more recent or acute illnesses. We would normally expect a noticeable improvement in symptoms in about 4 sessions but this can never be guaranteed.
Facial Enhancement Acupuncture requires a defined course of treatment. Again, initial results should be seen within the first 4 facial treatments and noticeable improvement within 6 sessions. After that maintenance treatments are recommended at an interval agreed with your practitioner.
Q. Does Facial Enhancement Acupuncture mean you insert needles in my face?
Yes! Needles are essential to increase the flow of Qi, stimulate the production of collagen to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and to tighten the facial muscles to help define and sculpt the face. However, the needles are tiny – mostly only 15mm in length and 0.18mm or even 0.16mm width.
During the initial consultation, your practitioner will establish what results you are aiming to achieve and to assess if there are any other symptoms which you may want to improve for example, fluid retention or acne, psoriasis and eczema. During treatment, your practitioner will also use needles on your legs, arms and possibly your body; these are the points that will help to balance and harmonise your inner elements and help you relax and enjoy your facial therapy.
Q. Is it OK for me to drive/work/exercise/socialise after acupuncture?
We normally advise against any strenuous exercise for 24 hours after a treatment and if at all possible not to work especially if you have a particularly physical job. But at worst you might find that you feel a little tired and so your performance might not be up to your usual standard. Tiredness is a known side effect of acupuncture but not everyone experiences it. It is best to rest as soon as you are able to after your appointment. Driving ability should not be affected but it’s not advised to undertake a long journey after treatment.
Facial Enhancement Acupuncture clients need to be aware of the slightly increased risk of bruising and so, as with spa facial treatments, you are advised not to schedule an appointment too close to an important social event.
Q. How much does it cost?