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Acupuncture as alternative to Botox

New York — Acupuncturists here are marketing their procedure as an alternative to Botox (Allergan) injections in smoothing facial lines caused by aging.

Recent reports say that while the extent of the so-called trend toward cosmetic acupuncture is hard to gauge numbers-wise, there appears to be more people seeking it because they have tired of getting repeat Botox injections or are wary of getting an initial treatment. These reports state that during the annual meeting of the American Association of Oriental Medicine, workshops on facial acupuncture drew standing-room-only attendance.

As in traditional acupuncture procedures, the practitioner inserts small needles into pressure points in the face, which acupuncture advocates claim increases blood flow to the area and results in tighter muscles and a more youthful appearance.

Typical New York-area fees for facial acupuncture range from $140 to $200 a session, with 10 to 20 weekly sessions recommended, followed by monthly maintenance sessions. Thus a typical first-year bill would be nearly $3,000, and nearly $4,500 for two years. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average fee for Botox injections is $376, often higher in metropolitan areas such as New York, and is repeated every three months.

While some studies have been published suggesting that facial acupuncture is a viable procedure, some cosmetic surgeons are urging that studies be conducted in which acupuncture is performed on one side of the face and Botox, or no procedure, on the other side. Photo documentation then could be applied to compare results.

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