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Facial cosmetic acupuncture

Q:  I am a beauty therapist who would really love to offer Facial/Cosmetic Acupuncture for my clients.  however, I am not interested in any other form of acupuncture. Do I still need to do the full university course to learn Body Acupuncture or is there another course I can take that only teaches Facial/Cosmetic Acupuncture?

A:  This is a hot potato! And you're probably asking the wrong people - we have a public commitment to degree-leve training as the entry standard to the profession, and a Code of Professional Conduct which forbids our members from training anyone in aspects of treatment unless they are already registered healthcare professionals or existing acupuncture practitioners.

We are duty bound to say that the only training we endorse is a full training. Acupuncture works for a great many problems, and for that reason many people 'cherry pick' small aspects of treatment for use in isolation from an overall understanding of what is happening in the body. This can have two consequences: first, that the treatment will not work because it cannot take into account confounding factors within the whole system; and second, it may actually cause harm for the same reason - local treatment may exacerbate a systemic problem for which the practitioner is unprepared. You can't know what you don't know, and being trained in just a small aspect of treatment is no better than being trained to steer a car in a straight line at 40mph. It's all very well as long as this is all you have to do and nothing pulls out in front of you.

Our primary concern is safety. This is not simply about causing damage with the needles; even in the hands of the poorly trained acupuncture is still remarkably safe. What concerns us is the level of understanding of safe needling and correct disposal of clinical waste. Many of the courses which we see health professionals taking are too short to cover this adequately alongside training in a new skill, and we fear that someone will unwittingly cause infection.

The reality is, however, that any gap in a market soon gets filled and there is a growing number of providers offering training in this area. All that we can tell you is to check their bona fides as health professionals, i.e. are they properly trained themselves, do they have proper insurance cover to offer training, and so n - and then check whether you are properly covered to offer treatment of this kind.

There is also a legal question of whether you need to be registered with your local authority for skin piercing, which this is. Since the adoption of the amendments to Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982 in 2006, all cosmetic and body piercing has to be registered with the local Enviromental Health Department, and we are sure that this extends to facial acupuncture. In London, this will mean annual licensing, outside London a one-off registration. In both cases, the penalties for being caught unregistered or unlicensed can be quite severe.

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