If you’ve never tried acupuncture before, the thought of needles being pricked all over your body can be intimidating to even the bravest wellness adventurists. Does it hurt?! How big are the needles? What if I suddenly break out in hives – or have loads of post-puncture dots everywhere??
These are just a few of the thoughts acupuncture newbies may encounter pre-treatment, along with anxiety around being immobile for a good 20 to 30 minutes. It is slightly tricky to get up to do anything with a bunch of tiny pins sticking out of you, after all.
Nevertheless, the positives far outweigh the concerns when it comes to this ancient Chinese healing therapy that promises reduced aches and pains, improved circulation, better sleep, skin, gut health, and the list goes on and on.
It’s also become increasingly easy to find an acupuncturist lately, with affordable acupuncture studios popping up all over major cities and suburban towns. In fact, many come complete with heated tables, a selection of organic teas to sip, and noise-canceling headphones for sound therapy during your session. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
Toying with the idea of trying acupuncture yourself? Read on for the full 411 on how it works, what it costs, and all the other answers to your acu-Qs.
What is Acupuncture?
“Acupuncture is scientifically proven to treat over 300 conditions and can be used both preventatively, as well as correctively,” explains Dr. Shari Auth, Board-Certified Herbalist and Chief Healing Officer at WTHN, an acupuncture clinic in New York City. “Some of the more common reasons people get acupuncture include pain, digestive disorders, sleep issues, women’s health, fertility, and mental health issues, but it can also be used to optimize energy, immunity, and mood.”
So How Exactly Does Acupuncture Work?
According to Licensed Naturopath Dr. Minna Kim, ND of Integrative Family Medicine in Stamford, CT, there are two ways to explains the ins and outs of acupuncture. “From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, it reduces stagnation, opens up meridians to improve qi and blood circulation head to toe, balances yin, yang, qi, and blood. From a Western perspective, acupuncture brings fresh blood to localized areas, releases endorphins (our happy feel-good hormones) to decrease pain and increases positive feelings of happiness.”
Cue Elle Woods with the whole “endorphins make you happy” line RN. What’s more, there’s all the added beauty benefits that come along with acupuncture, because you know we love any service that provides an instant glow-up.
What Are the Beauty Benefits of Acupuncture?
“Facial rejuvenation acupuncture (or cosmetic acupuncture) has anti-aging benefits, but it also improves your skin’s overall health,” says Auth.
Increases Circulation: Increasing circulation within the skin and throughout the body promotes natural detox and the elimination of toxins helps to clear the complexion and boost the skin’s natural glow.
Stimulates Collagen Production: This plumps the face, reducing wrinkles and fine lines and brightens dull skin.
Increases Production of Elastin: To help to firm, tighten and tone the face.
Treats internal processes such as digestion, allergies, and stress: Balances and addresses breakouts, acne, and puff.
Relaxes tight muscles: Combats tightness and sagging around the jaw, nose, eyes, and mouth.
Treats specific skin conditions: Including acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema.
How Should You Prepare For Your First Acupuncture Session?
“You should not have a session on an empty stomach,” advises Max Annis, lead acupuncturist at ORA, an acupuncture spa with locations in New York City and the Hamptons. “It does not hurt, but you may experience some discomfort when the needles are inserted if you’re starving.” Pro tip: eat a proper meal before you go, or at least reach for a smoothie or bar to be safe.
What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?
If you’re nervous about the pricks, don’t be. Some people don’t even feel the hair-thin needles going in and others describe the feeling as a tingling or warm sensation.
“Needles vary in both length and gage,” says Annis. “Smaller needles will be used in more sensitive areas such as the face, hands, and feet, while larger needles can be used in areas with more flesh.”
What Should You Do Post-Treatment?
Another draw to trying acupuncture is there’s zero downtime involved. You can go about living life the same way post pins, but Dr. Auth does recommend drinking plenty of water, and the best part: enjoying your acu-high! “This would be the zen and floating feeling after a treatment,” she adds.
How Much Does Acupuncture Cost?
Of course with all beauty services that promise this many advantages, one would assume they also come with a hefty price tag, but on the contrary, acupuncture is pretty reasonable in the coins department. A first-time, 45-minute session at WTHN will run you $75 (but comes with an added 15-minute assessment and treatment plan). Over at ORA, a new guest intro is $130 for a 65-minute session, but 30-minute CHI’LL sessions are only $75 and include tea.
As for how often you need to go to see results, this varies from person to person. Some people make acupuncture a weekly practice, while others go under the microneedles monthly. We’ll leave that decision up to you, but will say this: Making holistic healing a habit is something we can definitely get behind.