Needle Not Knife

Writer Nolan Lewis | March 11, 2019

It seems like cosmetic surgeons are losing famous clients with each day. If you suspect an ageing celebrity looks decades younger because they have been under the knife recently, your doubts may be baseless. Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone and Julianne Moore are said to continue looking glamorous thanks to their acupuncturist, not a surgeon. Kim Kardashian posted a picture on Instagram getting cosmetic acupuncture done captioned, “Oh just relaxing!” Apparently Jennifer Lopez dropped 15lb through a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herb-based weight-loss treatments.

“Aside from celebrities, the average person now prefers cosmetic acupuncture instead of old-fashioned, painful and more expensive surgical methods. This acupuncture technique is highly effective, yet not too many professionals can work this magic. Sessions with cosmetic acupuncturists are not cheap in the US and Europe, their schedules booked up to two years in advance, and only a few skilled therapists in Southeast Asia,” says Dr Liana Nenacheva, an acupuncture master who is on the roster of healers at The Yoga Barn in Bali.

“We associate traditional acupuncture with pain management and stress relief, but more people are now discovering its wrinkle reducing benefits as well. Many prefer it to more drastic treatments, like Botox or fillers,” says Dr Josh Nerenberg, owner of San Diego Cosmetic Acupuncture, one of California’s most popular names in the business. “Cosmetic acupuncture is a non-surgical, 25-minute procedure using needles finer than human hair to stimulate collagen growth and facial circulation. Treatments are painless and described as deeply relaxing,” he adds.


Although cosmetic acupuncture isn’t as well known as its medicinal counterpart, both doctors agree the former came first. “In ancient times Chinese royalty tried to find ways to look youthful and live forever.  Cosmetic acupuncture was discovered to help prolong youthful appearances,” Nerenberg says. “What they didn’t expect was after each treatment they would notice pain or other disease symptoms fading away as well! This laid the groundwork for what became acupuncture today,” Dr Nenacheva adds.

Facial acupuncture can be performed to remedy a spectrum of beauty ailments – wrinkles and fine lines diminish; eye bags and puffiness reduce and eyes brighten; face jowls and double chins become firmer; skin and muscle tone improves; and improved hormonal balance can even tackle resistant acne. The modality differs with each ailment. “A person with excess puffiness, for example, would require a different treatment than someone with dry skin,” Dr Nenacheva says.


Dr Nerenberg feels that cosmetic acupuncture and its traditional applications are inseparable. “Take age spots for example. Cosmetic acupuncturists will place needles surrounding the spot to increase melanin production, increase cell turnover and create a micro-trauma in that area to help area generate collagen and elastin. All these effects do help fade an age spot. However, it is not until you use  traditional acupuncture points in the ankle and foot that incorporate hormone balance and increase circulation to the face that you see true results,” Dr Nerenberg says. “When treating each patient we also include free traditional acupuncture for the body because its connected to appearance. If you are not sleeping well, have allergies or are in pain, of course you will not look your best.”

Despite hundreds of positive reviews and online testimonials on Yelp commending both doctors, Dr Nenacheva believes that her being alive today is a miracle thanks to learning acupuncture when she hit rock bottom. She says, “I started off as a very successful maxillofacial surgeon in one of Russia’s biggest university hospitals but at 23, a terrible car accident left me paralysed with injuries in the brain, spinal cord, liver, other internal organs and neck. Two months after the accident, a Korean man entered my life and using acupuncture needles helped me get back on my feet, much to the surprise of the doctors who said I would never walk again.”


Neither say that cosmetic acupuncture is a replacement for surgery however. Dr Nenacheva says, “Acupunctural facial rejuvenation is an excellent alternative. It is far less costly than cosmetic surgery and has no side effects or risk of disfigurement. Unlike surgery that may have an extended recovery period with swelling and discolouration, there is no need to hide after cosmetic acupuncture. While it cannot reshape one’s nose or chin, it is a more subtle rejuvenation that takes years off one’s face.”

Dr Nerenberg says, “I believe like many Western procedures, cosmetic surgery has its  place.  They quickly address a symptom rather than treating its root or source.  Botox lasts only a few months and has a rebound effect that cumulatively looks worse unless you keep getting more. Facial surgery can look grossly unnatural. Studies show a large percent of people that get liposuction regain the fat within only a few years. We need to stop trying to fix our symptoms with quick fixes and focus more on the basics. The best part is treatments can quickly be done in 30 minutes on a lunch break.”

"We need tostop trying to fix our symptoms with quick fixes and focus more on the basics."
~ Dr. Liana Nenacheva