When I was in my 20s, I could get away with late nights. 3AM sleep times after a night out? No problem, I’d just wake up as fresh as a daisy the next morning. As the years roll by though, such bad habits rack up Consequences™ – enter dark eye circles that’d put Kai Kai the panda to shame, or sagging skin that looks like a perpetual frown.
Panic made me look into beauty procedures to sharpen and lift those cheeks, but most of these required surgery which I wanted to avoid. So, when the idea of TCM-based treatment facial acupuncture was floated, my curiosity was piqued.
Now, let me be clear, I’m no stranger to acupuncture. But facial acupuncture? This was a whole new ball game.
My journey was about to start at Sin Kang TCM, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic nestled in the conveniently located Paya Lebar Square – just two minutes from the MRT. The clinic also has two other outlets – at 100AM Mall in Tanjong Pagar for the CBD crowd, and in Star Vista, for all the westies.
Heading in, I was impressed by the modernity of the place. No musty halls or wafting smells of herbs like those of older TCM practitioners I frequented. Instead, it was millennial-friendly with herbs and medicine lined up like any snazzy retail shop. The chill vibe made me feel like I was in for a pampering facial rather than an intimidating needle sesh, too.
Before a single needle was whipped out, we started gently with a consultation. After all, a legit TCM practitioner has to understand your body’s condition to propose the most suitable approach.
In contrast to Western Medicine that focuses more on symptoms and solutions, TCM focuses on healing your body holistically and naturally. That’s music to my ears as someone who’s averse to popping pills.
My physician Stephanie had over 12 years of experience and was highly professional. Like any good doc, she checked in on my daily habits in detail.
“Do you sleep early?” Nope.
“Do you drink plenty of water?” Nope.
As you can see, my habits leave much to be desired. She also asked me if I had any other existing conditions, and I brought up my Chronic Urticaria (hives), which she took into account when performing the acupuncture.
Stephanie took my pulse and mentioned that it was rather weak and my immunity was low – something I should be wary of especially in this pandemic. She also did an examination of my tongue, which is a hallmark of physical TCM diagnosis as well.
I was nervous, but Stephanie soothed my nerves by checking if the pain was bearable throughout the process. She made sure to pull my skin taut at certain junctures, and with the help of guiding tubes, used her deft hands to insert each and every needle at a precise angle.
As for the golden question: What is the pain like?
First off, I have a low tolerance for pain and cry during eyebrow threading, so you can imagine my apprehension at needles poking delicate parts of my face.
However, the pain was surprisingly manageable. Facial acupuncture needles are thinner than the regular ones used on the body. So, I barely felt some of the needles go in, and even the most painful was like a mosquito bite or someone pinching you. Do you generally notice when mozzies bite you? I think not.
Some of the needle placements did lead to a dull ache, which the physician told me was a sign of the tight muscles being loosened, and even this dissipated after a while.
This might look scary, but it truly doesn’t feel painful at all. I only felt as if there were ten needles on my face when there were actually twenty.
Stephanie shared that she customises the acupuncture according to a patient’s needs. For example, I have skin that’s so thin that my veins can be seen, and am susceptible to bruises. Hence, she opted for the Glow Facial Acupuncture to strengthen my skin, and blood circulation for that healthy, “I work out every day” glow.
The fine acupuncture needles would also trigger the body’s natural healing reactions, like producing more collagen. On the surface, that translates to plumper, smoother skin like that of a baby.
Another technique used was Lift Facial Acupuncture, which could shave years off your age by lifting droopy cheeks.
Due to ageing, our facial tissue often slips downwards naturally. Droopy facial tissues cause blood capillaries in the face to get congested, leading to impaired healing and flushing of toxins… which leads to yet more drooping. And there you have it, folks: a vicious cycle.
The needles correct that by guiding the tissue back to its proper position, plus amp up blood circulation to tone your face up. Think of it as a workout for a natural facelift!
But what really drove home TCM’s holistic approach to beauty was Stephanie’s final touch. Besides my face, she inserted needles into my arms and wrists to stimulate an upward flow of blood. My hives were also given attention through additional needles in my leg area and a prescription for herbal medication – “it’s all about balancing the body”, she said, which duly comforted me about TCM’s longer lasting benefits.
Unlike certain facials where you have to squint hard and convince yourself there is a difference post-treatment, results from just one facial acupuncture session were obvious.
My dark eye circles, which once extended all the way to the tip of my cheeks were now keeping in their lane, and only gently rimming my eyes. The skin in the eye area looked far plumper too, making my eyes look more lively and less hollow.
Thanks to the needles that my physician placed near my chin and lower cheek area, my hamster-like cheeks were also lifted, giving a more pronounced V-shape worthy of a Korean starlet. Botox or surgery, who?
To my delight, the physician share that the results would become even more obvious with time. That’s because the acupuncture triggers internal changes that can be seen after a single skin renewal cycle – usually between 21-28 days.
She also recommended eight weeks of consecutive treatments – equivalent to two courses of treatments – for the best results that can last up to three months.
Left: Before the treatment; Right: About a week after my treatment, my face had a more visible V-shape with less harsh eyebags.
Pro tip: You’re advised to drink more water – ideally down that 1.5L bottle – after a treatment! Also, if you do experience slight bruising, place a sliced potato on it to expedite healing.
To anyone seeking to look more refreshed without undergoing the knife, strongly consider facial acupuncture. It’s able to give you the effects of a facelift, but with minimal side effects – I’d say the only one would be minimal bruising for just a few days.
With Sin Kang TCM, I truly saw a difference in my appearance – with my face looking sharper in photos even a week after the sesh.
Not only can it help with #aesthetics, their signature NO-PAIN TCM Acupuncture™ technique is also said to relieve pain from conditions like headaches, get rid of stubborn fat and cellulite and even help with acne scarring and wrinkles.
Their acupuncture sessions start from $168, which is comparable to facial prices, and I felt I was in good hands with the physician’s extensive knowledge and soothing manner. The clinic also boasts a wide range of treatments, such as scraping, moxibustion for immunity, and even lymphatic drainage for weight sculpting – so you can get both your beauty and health needs sorted out in a single stop.
Image adapted from: Sin Kang TCM
As for me, I’d consider myself a convert – the results and holistic aspects of the treatment have got me sold. So, if you want to try something beyond facials or even invasive surgery, this might be worth a shot.
This post was brought to you by Sin Kang TCM Clinic.
Photography by Milim Tay.
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