The facelift that cuts out need to go under the knife

Alternative therapies can offer a more holistic approach to ‘facial rejuvenation’, writes SYLVIA THOMPSON

Alternative therapies can offer a more holistic approach to 'facial rejuvenation', writes SYLVIA THOMPSON

MANY PEOPLE turn to complementary therapies in search of a more holistic approach to their health, which examines mental, emotional and sometimes even spiritual aspects of their illness alongside their physical symptoms. Now, it seems that growing numbers are also going to complementary therapists for a more holistic approach to their beauty.

In the boom years, the acupuncture facelift became popular as a non-surgical method to improve beauty, radiance and vitality in the face while also promising to lift overall energy levels. Facial rejuvenation workshops enabled qualified acupuncturists to top up their skills and add acupuncture facelifts to their treatment portfolios.

Áine Delaney is an acupuncturist working in Galway city. She says that facial rejuvenation was very popular for a while, and although she still has clients who ask for it, the interest has tapered off somewhat. At a cost of €70 per session, clients were advised to have about 10 sessions but many now choose only to have one or two.


On her website, Delaney still promotes acupuncture facial rejuvenation. “It lifts sagging skin, improves complexion, reduces frown lines, improves muscle tone and stimulates circulation,” she says.

“The worse the client was, the better were the results. People who had let themselves go would show good improvements even after one or two treatments,” she says.

“The treatment balances the overall energetic systems of the body too and will help those who have poor sleep, painful periods, bowel or bladder problems and menopausal symptoms.”

During facial rejuvenation or cosmetic acupuncture, fine needles are placed in specific areas of the face and body while the client lies in a relaxed position on a massage table. The needles are left in for at least 30 minutes.

Anne Marie Lally has been getting cosmetic acupuncture for about three years now. “I’ve quite a tense face and it helps plump up my face again and eases out the lines on my forehead,” she says.

“People say I look really rested and not as drawn looking after I have a session. My skin really glows and the effects last for about a week.”

Lally, who is in her 30s, has never had a series of acupuncture facial rejuvenation sessions, but instead goes from time to time before a special event or at Christmas time.

“It doesn’t hurt having the needles put into your face. Sometimes there would be a slight bruise for a few days but I wear make-up over it,” she adds. “I’d never go for a facial now because I would choose this instead.”

The Acupuncture Council of Ireland warns that facial rejuvenation acupuncture is not recommended for anyone with diabetes and high blood pressure. Pregnant women, those with pituitary disorders and migraine sufferers should also avoid it. It shouldn’t be given to anyone with a bout of flu, allergic reaction or a cold.

Holistic massage therapist Bernie Traynor has introduced an alternative natural facelift treatment that may suit those who don’t like the idea of needles in their faces. Based in the Dublin Naturopathic Centre, Traynor incorporates manual lymphatic drainage techniques, Indian head massage and acupressure into the treatment.

“I’m principally trained as a holistic massage therapist, but in holistic massage therapists tend not to go near the face and scalp, but I believe we hold a lot of tension in our scalps. I’ve added manual lymphatic drainage to the treatment because the lymphatic system can be sluggish for many people and gentle touching on the face can help get the lymph flowing again,” she adds.

Acupuncturists don’t claim to alter the face in ways that cosmetic surgery can, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that cosmetic acupuncture can rejuvenate skin and muscle tone.

With tightening budgets, these holistic facelifts may well become fashionable as the costs – and potential risks – of cosmetic surgery give way to gentler approaches to beauty.


THE PROSPECT of a natural facelift in early January sounded very attractive. So, on a grim workday morning, I went along for the one-hour treatment. The idea was that at various meetings throughout the day and with my family later, I could gauge the results.

The treatment started with a 10-minute gentle neck and shoulder massage. Although the therapist mentioned that I had quite a bit of tension across my shoulders, she didn’t do any deep tissue work.

During the next 10 minutes or so, she gently touched various lymph nodes on my face, moving on to light pressure and gentle stretching movements on my chin, my eyebrows, my cheek bones and forehead.

She then massaged the scalp of my upper head, which I found to be the most enjoyable part of the treatment. In fact, I would have liked the head massage to have extended to the back of my head as well.

She ended the treatment with fluttering finger movements all over my face, which reminded me of someone playing the piano and seemed to echo the music that played in the background.

I felt my face looked clearer and more open immediately after the treatment and I noticed that a few small spots on my cheeks disappeared later that day.

However, not one person I met throughout the day commented on my face. It was the perfect qualitative piece of research: no one knew I was having a natural facelift, but no one noticed that I had had one.

As I turned in that night, I looked expectantly in the mirror again, only to conclude that a brisk walk or even a swim would have left more of a glow on my face.