Aging gracefully is not easy. For those who want to look younger, options range from creams and skin regimens, chemical peels, plastic surgery and injections. But Dr. Sean Yu of Jing River Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine in Edina offers an alternative. It’s acupuncture for beauty. Yu, who was a neurologist in China and also specialized in traditional medicine, started Jing River and has been a licensed acupuncturist for 25 years. We sat down with him in his modest Edina office to chat about this new beauty trend that helps patients avoid the knife by way of tiny needles.
Acupuncture is often thought of as a remedy for pain. We’ve never heard of it being used for beauty or looking younger. How does that work?
A: Acupuncture can help to increase blood flow. In Chinese medicine, we say there are many meridian channels flowing throughout the whole body and around the face. From increased blood flow in the channel in the meridian you can help to increase the nourishment of the face. It can also help to reduce puffiness and blemishes, skin issues on the face. It can also increase the collagen production.
For people who are squeamish about needles, what does acupuncture for beauty entail?
A: It doesn’t hurt. We have different types of needles. For the face, we use very tiny, very thin needles. Most patients don’t feel anything at all. Some points they may feel a little bit tender or tight when [the needle is initially inserted] but after we insert the needle, the patient feels okay. We put from 20 to even 100 needles on the face because there are many points on the face. But acupuncture regulates the whole body. There are 14 regular channels that flow all over the body. Each channel connects to internal organs. We use the points on the whole body, not just the face. It can help to regulate the qi energy. It regulates the blood flow all over the body as well as the internal organs so that the patient’s mood is better, and the whole body energy and the qi energy is better.
How long does the treatment take?
A: The first treatment takes an hour. Follow up treatments take 30 to 45 minutes. Normally when people come, we diagnose the different patterns first. Different people, they have different patterns ... Some people may look more wrinkled than others of the same age. That means they have kidney essence deficiency. When people come, we diagnose different patterns. So according to different patterns, we use the needle on the face and other parts of the body to combine different channels to regulate the body. Normally for beauty, we combine the facial needle and the whole body needle.
How often do your patients have to come in for these treatments?
A: Most people would come in twice a week for a few weeks. Typically about 12 visits.
A few months ago on the Refinery29 website, there was a story about facial reflexology. About a year before that, a facial massage called buccal massage was rumored to be something Meghan Markle does once a week to look younger. How is acupuncture for beauty similar or different to these methods?
A: That’s like acupressure. You need to know which point or which meridian you can press. I think using acupuncture may be better (unless someone is afraid of needles.) I can tell the patient which points work for acupressure or massage for the face [at home]. If you can combine the facial massage and acupuncture together, that will help.
Jing River Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine
6950 France Ave. S. Ste 117, Edina