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The Side Effects and Downsides of Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture.

Beautiful woman starting a facial cosmetic acupuncture treatment


Full disclosure - I am a doctor and facial acupuncturist, and I adore this treatment, which has wonderful benefits for my client's skin and general wellbeing. But like any treatment, it is not for everyone, and to make an informed choice, there are a few minor side-effects, plus some downsides, that you should be aware of.

But before we get to those, let's quickly remind ourselves of the key benefits!

Revitalises Skin Texture and Quality:

The ultra-fine needles cause micro-perforations that trigger the body's natural healing and repair mechanisms, including - increased blood flow, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells, increased lymphatic drainage, removing toxins, and increased collagen production. The net effect is a significant improvement in skin quality, texture and radiance.

Reverses the Signs of Ageing:

Alongside the skin benefits, facial acupuncture has many additional positive effects on the face, including reduced puffiness, improved muscle tone, and more. Plus, focussed needling accentuates collagen production along fine lines and creases, which can plump and fade over time. And the result - a more youthful and radiant you!

Rejuvenates Inner Wellbeing:

Facial acupuncture enhances your outer appearance and promotes a harmonious balance within, and this luxurious, 90-minute treatment will leave you relaxed and refreshed. I include body acupuncture points that promote inner balance and strengthen the body, with clients typically reporting improved sleep, mood and overall health and wellbeing.

Middle-aged woman with good skin touching her temples

Should you try this wonder treatment? Of course! But before you do, there are a few considerations.

Side Effects of Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture


The thought of someone inserting multiple needles into your face naturally evokes concern! Surely, it must be painful!

What is most surprising to first-time clients is how relaxing an experience it is. We use ultra-fine needles, about the size of a human hair, which cause minimal tissue disruption. You won't feel many of the needles; most will induce only mild fleeting sensations, and a handful may feel a little stronger (particularly in more sensitive areas such as around the mouth and eyes), but only for one or two seconds. By the time the needling is complete, you are free of any discomfort, and the needles are triggering the release of endorphins for a wonderful calming effect.


Although the perforations created during the procedure are microscopic, there is always the risk of bleeding and bruising, which occurs in about 3% of cases. If you tend to bleed easily or you are taking anticoagulation medication, please discuss this with your practitioner before your first treatment. Bruising tends to be more common around the eyes and under the jawline. To minimise the risk, I will avoid visible blood vessels and insert the needles gently. When removing the needles, I immediately apply pressure with a cotton bud, and if bleeding occurs, I will maintain pressure until controlled and apply arnica cream. Any bruising is typically minimal and easily covered with foundation.

close-up of a woman with a bruise along her jawline

Strong Emotional Reaction:

During a facial acupuncture session, I will insert anywhere from 40 to 100 needles into the face and body. Each of those needles stimulates the body's nervous system with connections to the brain, including the body's emotional centre, creating a positive, relaxing and calming state of mind for the vast majority. However, some may experience a surprising emotional reaction, such as tearfulness or giddiness. These emotional moments are generally short-lived, and I will pause and help you relax before we move on. In general, these moments are considered positive events - there are internal shifts in energy helping to promote a more balanced you!


After 90 luxurious minutes and needling that triggers many positive internal effects, it is possible to feel a little tired, even lightheaded, after a treatment. So caution should be taken if driving. Although relatively uncommon, if you are prone to lightheadedness, arrange a lift to your first appointment or come by public transport.

The Downsides of Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture

While facial cosmetic acupuncture has significant benefits, it's important to consider a few downsides that set it apart from more instant procedures like Botox, fillers, and threading. Understanding these aspects ensures you embark on this radiant adventure with realistic expectations.

Subtle and Natural Results:

Facial acupuncture works differently from treatments like Botox or fillers. Instead of using chemicals or surgery, it gently nudges your body's own regenerative processes. This means there's no risk of going too far or looking unnatural. With acupuncture, you're letting your body do its thing, giving your skin a gentle boost that helps it shine over time, and promoting subtle structural changes. 

So if you are seeking a quick, dramatic change, then other treatments may be a better choice. However, if you prefer keeping things simple and natural, and respecting your body's balance, you will love Facial Acupuncture.

Time and Financial Investment:

Facial acupuncture is also not a one-and-done solution; instead, the benefits accumulate through repeated stimulation of the body's repair mechanisms over several treatments.

The number of sessions needed for peak effect depends on the individual (age, skin type, genetics, comorbidities, etc.), but, on average, around ten sessions will be required, spaced at weekly or fortnightly intervals, followed by periodic maintenance sessions every 4-6 weeks. For those willing to invest the time and resources, this can transform skin health and youthful vibrancy. Moreover, these sessions are not just about skincare; they are luxurious experiences that benefit general physical health and mental wellbeing. The time and money invested in these sessions are well worth it, contributing to a holistic sense of rejuvenation and vitality.

a jar of money, a clock and a plant, representing the time and money needed to invest in good results

And it’s worth mentioning that there are other ways to enjoy the benefits of facial cosmetic acupuncture. Some clients simply enjoy a luxurious session once a month to top-up their skin health and wellbeing, while others enjoy shorter treatment packages (3-5 sessions) to optimise their skin health and appearance for significant events such as a wedding or presentation.

Whether opting for a regular regimen or occasional sessions for specific events, facial acupuncture offers a holistic approach to rejuvenation and vitality beyond mere cosmetic enhancement.

Not suitable for everyone 

Facial cosmetic acupuncture, while offering numerous benefits, is not suitable for everyone due to its intensive needling process and potential side effects. Unlike standard acupuncture sessions, facial acupuncture involves a significantly higher number of needles, often ranging from 40 to 100. While these needles can stimulate positive internal effects, such as improved circulation and skin rejuvenation, they may pose risks for individuals with certain medical conditions. Therefore, you should avoid facial acupuncture if you have chronic migraines, uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes, cancer, are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a pacemaker, are experiencing an active viral illness, or suffer from excessive bleeding or bruising tendencies. These conditions may exacerbate with the intensity of the treatment. If you're considering facial acupuncture, discussing your medical history with a qualified practitioner is crucial to ensure its suitability for you.

Conclusion: Unveiling Your Radiance, One Needle at a Time

Facial acupuncture can improve your skin's texture, reduce signs of ageing, and make you feel rejuvenated inside and out. While it may cause some mild discomfort or bruising, and take time to see results, many people find this gentle approach to skincare very rewarding. Like a flower blooming slowly, your beauty will shine authentically and lastingly.

To all beauty lovers and wellness seekers, consider trying facial acupuncture to experience its incredible benefits. Let the tiny needles and ancient wisdom guide you toward your natural beauty. Embrace the journey, knowing that true beauty takes time and care.

If you live in Glasgow, you can enjoy this wonderful treatment at Clarkston Acupuncture Clinic.

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

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