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Does Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture Hurt?

Beautiful woman starting a facial cosmetic acupuncture treatment


Facial Acupuncture is an ancient skincare secret growing in popularity as more people discover its amazing benefits. Yet, the fear of potential pain and discomfort often holds some people back from giving it a try. This piece will delve into the needles employed, the quantity used, and the sensations encountered during a facial acupuncture session. The aim is to answer your common queries and dispel myths surrounding this practice. By the time you finish reading, you'll have a clearer picture of what a Facial Acupuncture treatment entails, empowering you to pursue this path toward radiant and youthful skin.

Understanding Facial Acupuncture

Facial Acupuncture also referred to as cosmetic Acupuncture or facial rejuvenation acupuncture, draws its roots from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This technique entails delicately inserting ultra-fine needles into specific points on the face and body with the following objectives:

  • Stimulating Qi Flow: By doing so, Facial Acupuncture aims to invigorate the body's energy flow, known as Qi, restore balance to its systems, and address underlying imbalances that might contribute to various skin issues.

  • Enhancing Circulation and Collagen Production: Another critical goal is to improve blood circulation, stimulate collagen production, facilitate lymphatic drainage, and tone facial muscles. These combined effects contribute to a more youthful appearance and a radiant complexion.

In contrast to other cosmetic procedures such as Botox or skin micro-needling, the needles employed in Facial Acupuncture are extremely fine. As a result, the procedure is generally experienced without significant discomfort, creating a luxurious and relaxing experience.

Types of Needles Used in Facial Acupuncture

The needles used for facial Acupuncture are sterile, single-use and ultra-fine, ranging in diameter from 0.12mm to 0.18mm. To put that in perspective, it's about the diameter of a human hair (0.1mm) and about 10 to 20 times smaller than a hospital needle (for drawing blood or giving medications).

A graphic showing the diameter of facial acupuncture needles in comparison to a matchstick, a hypodermic needle and a sewing needle

The use of such fine needles is deliberate, serving multiple purposes - it minimises tissue disruption, reduces the risk of bruising and ensures a gentle and relatively painless insertion process. The finer needles enhance precision and comfort in delicate areas, like around the eyes and upper lip. The slightly thicker needles may be used for areas that require more muscle relaxation or lifting, such as the frown muscles, cheeks, jawline, etc.

In my practice, I use three needles:

30mm x 0.16mm - main facial needling

15mm x 0.12mm - for sensitive areas or shallow areas such as the forehead

5mm x 0.12mm - for skin needling (wrinkles, age spots, scars, etc.) when we don't need to advance to the muscle layer

An image showing the 3 types of facial acupuncture needles used at Clarkston Acupuncture Clinic - including their lengths and diameters

Number of Needles Used in Facial Acupuncture

The number of needles used in a Facial Acupuncture session is tailored to the individual's unique skin concerns and desired outcomes. On average, you can expect around 30 to 50 needles to be gently inserted during a session. These needles are strategically placed across key areas, including the forehead, cheeks, around the eyes, jawline, neck, hands, and feet.

Each acupuncture point serves a specific purpose in the pursuit of skin rejuvenation. The placement of needles on the hands and feet facilitates the free flow of Qi, promoting relaxation, minimising discomfort, and fostering inner balance. Simultaneously, the strategic placement of needles in the head and neck region targets muscle toning and shaping, boosts blood flow, encourages lymphatic drainage, and stimulates collagen production. This comprehensive approach aims to revitalise the face and the body as a whole.

Needle Insertion

The process of needle insertion unfolds in two stages: First, the needle delicately breaks the skin, and then the practitioner gently advances it deeper, typically into the underlying muscle. This second stage involves encountering deeper tissues, such as blood vessels, nerves, and muscle layers, each contributing to distinct sensations.

Common sensations experienced during this stage include:

  • Prick or Pinch: As the needle breaks the skin, you may feel a brief and slight prick or pinch. This sensation fades quickly.

  • Ache or Pressure: muscle and other deep somatic tissues are associated with aching, pressure, swelling or numbness, but are often painless.

  • Tingle or warmth: thought to result from the flow of Qi through the acupuncture points. It is viewed as a positive indication of energy movement.

  • Sharp or burning pain: may be associated with needle touching the sheath or a nerve or a blood vessel.

It's important to note that these sensations experienced during a session are generally mild and should be viewed as positive signs that the needles are appropriately positioned and actively engaging the body. In rare cases where a needle causes persistent or bothersome discomfort, the practitioner can easily address the situation by removing or repositioning the needle to ensure your comfort and safety throughout the session.

What happens next?

When all needles are in place, the needles will be 'left to work their transformative magic' for approximately 20-25 minutes. There is typically no discomfort at this stage. However, it's important to note that significant body movements during this time can induce mild discomfort, as the needles may shift within the tissues. To optimise your experience, we recommend settling into a comfortable position and minimising movement throughout the treatment.

During this time, the needles also stimulate the release of endorphins, creating a profoundly relaxing experience for you. To enhance your comfort, I often dim the lights, provide blankets for warmth and cosiness, step out of the room, and encourage you to unwind as the needles take effect. Not only have we kickstarted your facial rejuvenation but also your whole-body wellness.

A beautiful woman relaxing during a facial cosmetic acupuncture session

Removing Needles

Removing needles is quick and straightforward, with no significant discomfort. It's important to note that any small spots of blood that may occur during needle removal can be easily controlled with a cotton bud.

Following proper medical disposal practices, needles will be promptly discarded in a designated 'sharps box.'

At Clarkston Acupuncture Clinic, I remove the head and neck needles first, I perform a facial massage, and at the very end of the session, we remove the needles from the arms and legs, completing the session.

You will leave the treatment room with a refreshed and rejuvenated feeling.

The Perception of Pain

The experience of needle insertion varies from person to person, as the perception of pain or discomfort is personal and influenced by two key factors:

The ‘Right’ Environment: 

Creating an optimal environment is key to minimising any potential discomfort. For me, the ideal setting involves:

  • Ensuring the treatment room is warm and comfortable.

  • Playing soothing background music.

  • Having a candle burning to enhance the overall ambience.

The Patient's State of Mind: 

A calm and focused mindset can positively influence the perception of discomfort during needle insertion. Conversely, being tense or stressed can increase the perception of pain.

To foster relaxation, I encourage clients to enter a tranquil state during needle insertion, including:

  • Ensuring the client's comfort and relaxation before we begin

  • Asking the client to focus on relaxing the specific body area where the needle is being inserted.

  • Guiding clients through deep breathing for each needle placement: a deep inhalation followed by a long, slow exhalation, during which time I insert and advance the needle.

This approach helps promote a calm mind, enhancing the overall experience.

a woman by the size in a yoga pose - representing health and wellness

Managing Anxiety and Maximising Comfort

It's crucial to recognise that each person's experience with Acupuncture is unique, and taking steps to manage anxiety can significantly enhance comfort during the treatment. Here are some practical strategies that you can take to help reduce stress and maximise your overall comfort:

Educate Yourself:

Take the time to familiarise yourself with the facial acupuncture process. Understanding the types of needles used, the sensations you may experience, and the potential benefits can alleviate fears of the unknown and empower you to approach the treatment confidently.

Relaxation Techniques:

Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine before, during and after the treatment. Practice deep breathing exercises, guided meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to relax your body and mind.

Open Communication:

Establish open communication with your practitioner. Share any fears, concerns, or past experiences with Acupuncture. A transparent dialogue allows your practitioner to provide reassurance, adjust techniques, or modify the treatment plan to align with your comfort level.


During the treatment, focus on the present moment and trust in the expertise of your practitioner. Consider the sensations you experience as integral to the healing process rather than sources of pain or discomfort. Embracing a mindful approach can shift your perspective and contribute to a more positive experience.

By incorporating these strategies, you can cultivate a calm and positive mindset, enabling you to fully embrace the benefits of Facial Acupuncture with confidence and comfort.

The Benefits of Facial Acupuncture

As we explore the world of Facial Acupuncture, it’s worth remembering some key benefits that make this practice genuinely transformative:

Improved Skin Health:

Facial Acupuncture acts as a natural catalyst for improved skin health. Enhancing blood circulation and lymphatic drainage and stimulating collagen production works wonders on skin texture, tone, and elasticity. The result? A significant improvement in skin quality and a reduction in fine lines, acne scars, and age spots.

Stress Reduction:

Beyond the visible benefits, Facial Acupuncture creates a serene and calming experience, effectively reducing stress levels and promoting overall mental wellbeing. Being more balanced internally contributes to skin health. The mind-body connection is a powerful ally in the pursuit of radiant skin.

Holistic Approach:

Facial Acupuncture adopts a holistic perspective on skincare, addressing underlying imbalances within the body that may contribute to skin issues. Targeting these imbalances goes beyond surface-level solutions, promoting overall health and vitality for a comprehensive approach to skincare.

Natural and Non-Invasive:

Facial Acupuncture stands out as a natural and non-invasive alternative in a world of cosmetic procedures. Without chemicals or toxins, it provides a safer and more sustainable option for those seeking to enhance their skin. Embracing your natural beauty has never been so gentle or natural.

Long-lasting Results:

While individual experiences may vary, many find that regular facial acupuncture treatments yield long-lasting results. The cumulative effects, including increased collagen production and improved skin health, contribute to sustained enhancements in skin appearance. It's not just a quick fix; it's an investment in the lasting beauty of your skin.

Conclusion: Does Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture Hurt?

Facial Acupuncture is a safe and effective holistic approach in the complex skincare world. Contrary to common concerns, this practice is relatively painless and offers a deeply relaxing experience. Using ultra-fine needles ensures minimal discomfort during the treatment, with sensations like slight pricks, heaviness, warmth, tingling, or throbbing being mild and fleeting.

Choosing a qualified practitioner and incorporating relaxation techniques can enhance your comfort during facial acupuncture sessions. Beyond the surface-level benefits of skin rejuvenation, facial Acupuncture offers a holistic package that includes stress reduction, overall health promotion, and a natural approach to skincare.

For those in Glasgow seeking a holistic skincare journey, Clarkston Acupuncture Clinic, led by Dr Eoghan Colgan, welcomes you. Guiding you through a comfortable and rejuvenating facial acupuncture experience, we aim to help you achieve radiant and youthful-looking skin.

Embrace the transformative power of facial Acupuncture, discovering its profound effects on your skin and overall wellbeing. Your journey toward holistic skincare begins today—experience the rejuvenating touch of facial Acupuncture and unlock a radiant, youthful glow.

A banner for Clarkston Acupuncture Clinic - includes a photograph of clinic owner Dr Eoghan Colgan

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