Ask an expert - general - cosmetic

7 questions

Q:  I am considering having acupuncture re non surgical face lift, would you like to recommend a qualified person and what qualifications should they have?

A:  The advent of facial or cosmetic acupuncture is one of a number of areas where members undertake postgraduate training in a specific field to treat a particular group of patients. There are, however, as yet no agreed standards for each of these fields, of which cosmetic acupuncture is one.
 
All that we can say at this stage is that there are a number of courses which members and other practitioners offer in facial or cosmetic acupuncture which offer qualifications but none of these is as yet officially recognised. What we feel is that the use of these specific treatments is most effective if it is accompanied by treatment of the person according to traditional acupuncture principles. There aren'y different forms of acupuncture, and cosmetic acupuncture is not a separate field. The points uses are often in classical locations but there are a number of techniques which are not usually applied and for which people do have extra training.
 
As such there is no-one we can recommend as such, not any one qualification which we can vouchsafe. The best advice is to undertake a google search with the label 'facial acupuncture' or 'cosmetic acupuncture' and your area, and you will undoubtedly find one or two names. All that we can say is that you should ensure that anyone you go to belongs to a professional body and holds proper insurance. We have heard of beauty consultants undertaking weekend or day training, and we do not believe that this is adequate preparation for the safe and competent practice of acupuncture, nor that the techniques should be used without an underpinning of proper treatment.

 

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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