Collagen stimulation, cell regrowth and increased immunity against external damage are all benefits of facial acupuncture and acupressure, writes Dr Bianka Toebben
I have specialised for more than 20 years in integrative medicine, combining traditional with biological and holistic medicine—I have also practiced aesthetic medicine for 20 years, specialising in anti-ageing and biological hormonal replacement. In my work, I try to integrate different dimensions into the treatment.
An acupuncture point is a bundle of blood vessels and nerves that are perforating the superficial fascia of the skin of the lower and deeper muscles. When inserting a needle into an acupuncture point, there is an immediate effect on circulation and on the nervous system—a reflexology effect, pain or a local sensation, a systemic effect along the meridian and a central effect through increased production of serotonin and dopamine in the central nervous system.
By inserting the needle into the dermis, you reach not only the vessels and the neurological system, but also the extracellular matrix. This is where you find collagen, elastin, fibroblasts and macrophage. By stimulating the dermis with an acupuncture needle, you also have an effect on the immune system which means better resistance for the skin against external damage.
When a patient comes to my office, I don’t just look at the structure of the face; how many wrinkles the client has or how deep the wrinkles are. In complementarymedicine, I also look at these in a different way—certain wrinkles are related to certain organs. The face is a mirror of our inner physical, mental and spiritual condition.
A patient with very pale skin may have too many toxins in the body so I would look not just at the wrinkles, but also how to improve the immune system from the inside to the outside. A patient with high vascularization, for example, may have venous problems. The shape, structure and landscape of the face provides me with information on how to treat the client in an individual and holistic way.
There are different methods of acupuncture, such as combining Chinese with Japanese techniques. I use a single technique or a combination of horizontal and vertical, superficial and deep insertion, depending on the results I want to achieve, such as increased production of collagen or proliferation of fibroblasts.
For facial acupuncture, I only use Japanese needles which are very fine and almost painless. To enhance the cheeks, all needles are directed towards the centre zygomaticus. These points mainly belong to the digestive organs, such as the stomach meridian, the large and small intestine, the gallbladder and the bladder meridian. As well as Chinese acupuncture, I also add points from Yamamoto Japanese scalp acupuncture.
I always combine techniques, usually treating the frontal, dorsal and both sides for symmetry. I use the Conception Vessel, which has a connection to the Governing Vessel and radiates left and right.
I put most needles in horizontally, towards the zygomaticus to have a lift. I add other important points that also have an effect on organic problems, such as one in the ear for stomach issues. The whole body—inner organs, bones, the spine and the immune and hormonal systems—are represented in the ears. Points from Yamamoto can treat vertical forehead lines that aren’t improved with toxins.
We can combine acupuncture with acupressure or local patches, as they have an effect on the superficial circulation and also increase the proliferation of collagen in the dermis. They also provide pain relief.
I know where the acupuncture points are located so usually use the “very point” technique—finding the point that is more sensitive and inflamed due to the problem area you’re treating. The needle acts as a guide for detecting the point.
Following the law of symmetry, I tend to use complementary points, means treating both sides of the body; front, back, left, right, head, fingers, toes and the ear. The Governing and Conception Vessels have the advantage that they radiate to both sides so I can treat with fewer needles. Depending on what the patient needs, I add specific points for facial or neck enhancement. Acupuncture facial enhancement can be used on its own or alongside other treatments.
We can use infrared imaging to show acupuncture meridians with the help of a moxa cigar stick. Moxa is a Chinese herb used for putting heat in a meridian that lacks energy. We use the moxa cigar to stimulate the acupuncture points along the meridian. The meridian area then shows on infrared as red light.
But this is not heat; it is a photonic emission of our cells. We cannot see the meridian with the naked eye. While we believed what the Chinese were saying for more than 3000 years, we now have visible proof that the acupuncture meridian exists.
So any acupuncture treatment we do in the face will have an effect on the body. We also have to consider when we use micro-needling that we do sometimes reach superficial acupuncture points.
Why would we use acupressure instead of acupuncture? First of all, it’s less painful. I plan which points to press and how deep to press. You can use acupressure in combination with acupuncture integrated into one treatment session.
Acupressure can be useful for pain relief. One technique is meridian massage—massaging the meridian points and pressing point after point. It is very easy to teach and therefore to be integrated into your practice.
We can use our fingers or patches, either as a single treatment or in combination with acupuncture. When I insert a needle inside the muscle, I put a patch on top to give an extra local effect. I can also use small magnetic balls underneath the patch, either in gold or silver, to increase circulation and activation of the meridian or to sedate and calm it down.
Patches used on these lines give a visible reaction after 36 hours. The line appears shallower and the skin looks firmer and enhanced. The effect doesn’t last long but if you have a client who is finding treatment painful, you can use a patch to decrease the pain and, at the same time, superficially enhance the appearance.
When the client comes to me, I have a good look at them, listen and talk to them to find out what the problem is. When I want to go deeper to get health information from the body, I use computerised hair analysis.
This test can help us find out what is wrong at an organic, structural and chemical level. We can find out about intoxication, heavy metals, deficiencies or a lack of vitamins, minerals or hormones that are important for facial enhancement or production of collagen. We can establish intolerance to some types of food or infections with viruses, fungus or parasites, as well as negative environmental influences. We can also carry out a blood test, particularly if we want to provide bioidentical hormonal replacement therapy (BHRT).
I tend to use a combination of acupuncture, vitamin infusion, aminoacids, antioxidants and oxygen ozone therapy, a BHRT. I also advise my clients to change their lifestyle. I help them to look at aspects of their lives they can positively change to have an impact on their holistic wellbeing. When necessary I refer them to different therapists for additional treatments like hypnosis or osteopathy.
When enhancing the face, we also need to treat the body. We need to treat from the inside to the outside. Products we use have an effect but when the body keeps on intoxicating, such as continuing to drink too much alcohol or not exercising, treatments can only do so much.
We need to look at ourselves in a holistic way, from the outside to the inside and vice versa—the soul must be happy to have an honest smile.
Dr Bianka Toebben is licenced by the University of Essen/Germany as a Medical Doctor and General Practitioner and she specialises in natural and chiropractic medicine