Z Life: Pinup Girl

Several weeks ago, I experienced a beauty treatment that seriously rocked my world. I was admittedly skeptical about the buzz surrounding facial rejuvenation acupuncture and cupping yet intrigued by the non-invasive, anti-aging benefits of being a human pincushion. I had to know more. Net-net? It was love at first stick.

Constance Bradley, Ph.D., L.Ac. is the founder of EAST Integrative Medicine and I must say (with all due respect) as non-granola as they come. When I stepped foot inside the Old Town Scottsdale clinic I was immediately put at ease by Bradley’s warm smile, blown-out blonde locks (à la Reese Witherspoon) and on-trend floral dress. All familiar factors in calming my pins and needle nerves since this was my first acupuncture go-round.

After pleasantries and a review of my health history, we quickly got down to business. I was a bit surprised that the “facial” involved undressing, but I was game. Once on the comfy treatment table I understood why disrobing was important. Beauty is more than skin deep and involves the entire body in the world of traditional Chinese medicine — I felt a wave of calm the moment Bradley placed the first thin (as human hair) needle in my big toe and repeated her “pinning” up my body.

I was grateful for Bradley’s gentle and matter-of-fact disposition. She explained I may feel a slight sensation at first poke and then nothing at all. As she inserted needles in my tummy and the thin skin on my hands I felt a few stings and then wondered if they fell out — my eyes closed and I felt insanely relaxed as needles were placed in fine lines on my face and additional areas that Bradley deemed worthy of tightening.

As I started to doze off I quickly remembered I was on the job and kept it together to get the scoop on cosmetic acupuncture and cupping– and why both are alternatives for men and women seeking anti-aging alternatives. 

In a nutshell, acupuncture is one component of traditional Chinese medicine. Thin needles are placed into areas of the body to manipulate energy (Qi: chee) and increase blood flow. The nearly four-thousand-year-old practice is used to treat aliments such as arthritis, emotional and psychological disorders, circulatory disorders and more.

Cosmetic facial acupuncture increases/improves circulation and helps eliminate fine facial lines and soften deep lines. It can help reduce dark circles, puffy eyes, saggy chins and droopy eye lids. Bradley told me it’s safe to use with Botox and depending on individual goals, 10 to 15 sessions can yield results for up to three years. Each session is 60 – 90 minutes and may include acupuncture, cupping and gua sha, (skin scrapping) and application of Mad Hippie lotions/serums during and post treatment.  Prices range from $100 to $150 depending on customization per session. Wellness membership packages are available through EAST Integrated Medicine and Bradley is the sole practitioner in the clinic.

After Bradley filled me in on the what’s what of cosmetic facial acupuncture, I floated off to la-la land for about twenty minutes. Bradley returned to the room, removed the needles and informed me the next step in treatment involved cupping my face. Say what?! Yes, cupping. As in Michael Phelps. I quickly arose from my slumber to inquire about bruising (and was set to jet) when Bradley assured me not to worry. The cups are small and provide subtle pressure, just enough to further promote blood flow to my face and soften any deep lines. And OMG it. was. glorious. The cupping felt like soft little baby kisses all over — if it was working or not I didn’t care, I didn’t want it to end. Next up was gua sha, an equally pleasant skin scraping technique (eliminates puffiness), topped with an application of Mad Hippie serum to wrap up my first human pincushion experience.

So, what’s my take? It was certainly soothing (sans my cupping delusion) and I looked fab when I left (no red marks from typical facial extractions etc.) but does facial rejuvenation acupuncture yield long-term results?  My complexion had a definite glow for several days post my single treatment and repeat clients rave about ever-lasting results on East Integrated Medicine’s site. 

And, if celebs move your beauty treatment barometer, my research indicates several Hollywood A-listers are fans of ongoing cosmetic acupuncture.

Overall, if you’re looking for a completely non-invasive, zero side effect method to improve your complexion and experience ultimate relaxation well then, cup it up buttercup! Need(le)less to say, cosmetic acupuncture may be for you.