Not one needle, but many: Patients turn to acupuncture instead of Botox, fillers

CHICAGO — They’re particularly popular leading up to the holidays; Patients who want to put their best face forward during the season often turn to fillers or Botox. But some are turning to an ancient practice to turn back time.

Like Botox, cosmetic acupuncture targets problem areas — not with one needle but a dozen all over the face.

Gudrun Wu Snyder is a doctor of East Asian acupuncture.

“It’s a wonderful way to preserve how you are looking. But even those a little further along in the aging process can reap the benefit,” she said. “You create tiny microtraumas on the skin (that) help bring blood collagen and elastin back to your face, giving you a much more youthful glow.”

Snyder was inspired by her grandmother – an ear, nose and throat physician.

“She lived to over 100 years old, and she really combined East and West,” she said.

In the West Loop, Snyder offers her approach to wellness at Moon Rabbit Acupuncture.

“From a western biomedical perspective, acupuncture has been shown to increase blood circulation,” she said. “It works on the neurotransmitters in your body to decrease cortisol, the stress hormone. … From an eastern perspective, we look at how it moves energy or chi in our body and how to rebalance ourselves.”

Jen Kim has been coming to Moon Rabbit for nearly two years. She says the regular treatments – which include light therapy to boost the needles’ effect – give her a glow — and then some.

“Helps calm any extreme emotion, so less stress, less anxiety,” she said. “I did notice the lines around my eyes did soften. They are still there, but they are softer now.”

“Instead of Botox, which freezes your face, right? It works to relax your face,” Snyder said. “When we use cosmetic acupuncture, we relax those muscles allowing for these lines instead of becoming furrows to become much more subtle.”

It’s not instant gratification. Patients typically require sessions twice a week for at least five weeks to see results.

“But it’s not going to be like you walk out and people go, ‘Did you get a facelift?’” Snyder said. “No, it’s going to be people will say, ‘You look great. What did you do? Did you just get the best night’s sleep? What’s going on? Did you use a new product?’ That’s the kind of result you’ll see with acupuncture.”

“Being 38, I haven’t had to resort to Botox yet. I’m sure at some point I will but being able to resort to things that are more natural for now has been great,” Kim said.

The downside? The cost. Full-body sessions run for $185. But insurance is billed for non-cosmetic areas, reducing the out-of-pocket expense.