Acupuncture for Facial Rashes

Acupuncture does not just have to be used for “rejuvenation” of the face; it is also extremely effective for when dermatological conditions crop up.

In this particular case, a woman changed her birth control medicine and noticed that she had intense redness crop up over her face. There did not seem to be any other changes in her diet or life-style that had changed.

The first set of photos is prior to the first treatment. Besides acupuncture, the patient was also put on the herbal formula Shuang Huang Lian.

The second set of photos is the patient after one treatment (which took place the day before).

Notice the dramatic change after just one treatment 24 hours ago!

First two photographs show patient at start of first acupuncture treatment to address the redness/rash. Please note that the patient gave the clinic explicit consent to post these pictures.

Second two photos are from today (4/25/18) after her one acupuncture treatment yesterday.






Argan Oil & Your Skin

By Dr. Alemi, DAc.

When patients come in for a facial treatment, coconut oil or rosehip oil are often the top oils that come up when I ask what products they use in their daily skin-care routine. While both of these oils are FANTASTIC, one must remember that each oil has different properties and actions – meaning that just because an oil is great for one person’s skin doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best choice for another person’s.

This is why I want to bring up argan oil for facial use. Argan oil is great for ALL skin types, whether oily, combination or dry, whereas some of the other facial oils are better for more mature or dry skin. If in doubt about the “status” of your skin, I say go with an oil that is good for all skin types.

So we know that argan oil is good for all different types of skin. Now how about what it can specifically offer?


Argan oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, linoleic acids and essential fatty acids. All of these natural ingredients are super good for you skin, both moisturizing and protecting.

It will hydrate even the driest skin: Let me add a small aside here that you really only need about 2-3 drops of argan oil for each use as it is very hydrating. Any more and you may look like you just stepped out of the shower, throughout the entire day. I would also like to add that although it is super moisturizing, it has anti-inflammatory qualities for red, reactive skin.

It won’t clog pores. Argan oil balances out your natural oil production,  so it can actually prevent acne and breakouts. Stated differently, it can help to balance sebum levels, which helps control oil production.  Dr. Patricia Wexler, MD of Wexler Dermatology states that, “Antioxidants can reduce the inflammation of acne and razor bumps, and the Vitamin E can help in healing [i.e. components found in argan oil].” Dermatologist and facial expert Josie Maran notes that argan oil is especially gentle on people with sensitive skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.

Along with its role as an excellent moisturizer, Dr. Wexler says the antioxidants found in argan oil are excellent for healing irritated or damaged skin. “They make an excellent anti-aging treatment as well, as they prevent oxidative damage from free radicals and UV radiation.”

This is where we come back to the different types of facial oil out there and how each one may be a better choice for you, depending on your skin and your concerns. For example, coconut oil (the kind found in facial care and NOT the cooking section of the supermarket) is a heavy oil wonderful for moisturizing dry, cracked skin – especially on your scalp and body (i.e. think hair, nails, elbows). Argan oil – while still super moisturizing – also has the added benefits of being anti-aging AND still helpful for those with problematic skin (think acne-prone).

I will acknowledge that good quality argan oil (which IS the only kind you should be using as the skin on your face is quite delicate) can be somewhat more expensive than some of the other oils out there. However, with that said, you really do only need 2-3 drops per use and the benefits will last you throughout the day. Also, the number of benefits that argan oil has saves you from having to go out and incorporate other products into your skin-care routine as well.

In regards to any adverse reactions, usually there are none with argan oil unless: A) You use too much and some gets into your eye (guilty-as-charged) B) You use low-grade quality argan oil. Any reactions, i.e. rash or itchiness, from this is not usually from the argan oil itself but from other chemicals that may be mixed in with the oil. You want a nice, thin, yellow liquid to come out of a dark-coloured container (one which should be stored in a cool place). Some people with tree-nut allergies should patch-test argan oil on another area of their body before use (i.e. hand) just to make sure.


Is Cosmetic Acupuncture the New Botox?

“Celebrities always know what’s hot in the world of anti-aging treatments and, this week, they’re excited about facial acupuncture.

A-list celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery and Madonna all swear by what is being described as a holistic alternative to Botox, claiming cosmetic acupuncture helps them look younger while boosting their health and well-being.

As an anti-aging treatment, facial acupuncture employs the techniques of traditional Chinese medicine coupled with modern-day science. The goal is to restore the balance of energy which flows throughout the body, while increasing the production of natural collagen in the skin.

It might not be ideal for the needle-phobic, however, since it does require the temporary insertion of several acupuncture and dermal needles to achieve the highest level of skin rejuvenation.

But those who’ve tried this centuries-old yet cutting-edge procedure say it’s worth it, and that it gives the skin a youthful glow while reducing the appearance of stubborn facial wrinkles. It has also been claimed that an acupuncture facelift can help treat acne, dark circles, dark spots, age spots and a myriad of other common skin conditions.

The best part? It’s 100 percent non-surgical.

celebrities facial acupuncture
Bar Refaeli, Kim Kardashian, and Millie Mackintosh undergoing facial acupuncture.

What Is Cosmetic Acupuncture?

There are over 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, all of which — according to traditional Chinese medicine — are connected by 20 pathways called meridians. These pathways contain conduct energy — also known as “qi” — between the surface of the body and internal organs. Placing needles in the body is thought to help restore the yin-yang balance in the body, treating everything from depression and allergies to bone disease and high blood pressure.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s also believed that your face has the capacity to act as a mirror for what’s going on inside your body. For instance, facial changes such as wrinkling around the eyebrows may be connected to liver problems, while wrinkling around the mouth may be associated with the spleen.

Since the belief is that physical appearance is closely linked to a person’s overall health, it’s no surprise that acupuncturists have developed methods of addressing cosmetic concerns and general health issues simultaneously.

A more modern twist on these ancient techniques involves the use of acupuncture needles to boost collagen production, in much the same way as microneedling or laser treatments. When an acupuncture needle is inserted into specific points on the face — especially in areas which have experienced an excessive loss of collagen — the disruption in the skin tissue causes the body to respond by sending collagen-building cells to the area. This is a great solution for those who want an anti-aging treatment that will address frown lines, crow’s feet and other wrinkles the natural way.

If you’re looking for a way to boost your overall health and well-being while enjoying cosmetic benefits at the same time, this effective treatment may be something you want to consider.


The Benefits of Facial Acupuncture

  • Wrinkle Correction — Cosmetic acupuncture can help promote collagen synthesis by way of a chemical reaction in the cells, which helps to address fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Plumping Power — This treatment targets facial muscles and encourages blood flow, which can increase the transmission of nutrients and oxygen to the skin, creating a more filled-out appearance courtesy of greater levels of collagen and elastin. As a result, redness, dark spots, age spots and more are eliminated.
  • A Smooth Complexion — Additionally, cosmetic acupuncture is highly touted for its amazing capacity to leave behind a smooth, glowing complexion. This occurs because through acupuncture the skin cells receive the proper level of oxygen and nutrients delivered through increased blood cells to correct problem areas.
  • Scar Reduction — There is evidence to suggest that cosmetic acupuncture and other microneedling procedures can be effective as a holistic method to treat scars.

Side Effects, Recovery, and Results

Depending on which facial areas require treatment, during your first acupuncture session you can expect to have between 20 to 25 needles inserted into the surface of the skin. If you’re interested in a beautifying acupuncture treatment, you’ll likely receive fewer needles to target problem areas around the eyes and mouth.

Most patients report that cosmetic acupuncture is painless, while others have experienced slight stinging sensations, mild pain or discomfort. Each facial acupuncture session should last between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on your particular concerns.

As far as recovery goes, it doesn’t get much better than this. Cosmetic acupuncture patients report minimal side effects and virtually no downtime. Minor bruising at the injection site is possible, as is mild discomfort, but most patients are able to return to daily life immediately following the procedure.

This is one more reason why it has long been popular in China and Korea, and why some A-list celebrities prefer it to Botox, cosmetic surgery and laser treatments.

Some treatments, such as AcuFacial — half-facial, half acupuncture — may integrate other skin care treatments to prepare the skin before needles are introduced. For example, New York-based Shellie Goldstein Associates uses face cupping, microcurrent, dermarolling, ultrasound, microdermabrasion and LED light therapy to address underlying issues before using cosmetic acupuncture to boost collagen. [At MCCAM, we not only use needles but micro and jade rollers, facial cups, and essential oils during out treatments with recommendations for at-home skin care]

According to Shellie Goldstein, one of the leading worldwide experts on cosmetic facial acupuncture, this double-duty treatment can simultaneously stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage, improve muscle tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, all while giving the face and eyes a radiant glow.

Facial Acupuncture Vs. Botox: Which Works Better?

Just like Botox, cosmetic acupuncture is not meant to be an immediate or long-term cure-all. While many people report immediate results, for others it can take several treatments before achieving a visibly significant improvement in skin appearance and texture. [We would usually recommend a series of 12 sessions, in which 2x/week would be ideal and then perhaps a monthly maintenance session; most significant improvements are usually seen around the 7th treatment]

Most specialists recommend at least five sessions of facial acupuncture for the best results and, as with Botox, additional maintenance treatments are highly encouraged. Many devoted cosmetic acupuncture patients receive maintenance treatments every four to six weeks, whereas results from Botox injections can last for up to four months.

Finally, where each acupuncture facelift session costs between $100 and $300, Botox runs from $300 to $1,000 per session.

By way of scientific proof, there is evidence to support the efficacy of both cosmetic injectables and facial acupuncture. One 2013 study concluded that “facial cosmetic acupuncture showed promising results as a therapy for facial elasticity.”

With that being said, facial acupuncture doesn’t quite stack up to Botox or Restylane in terms of treating deep wrinkles in one specific area. It is most effective when used to improve the overall look, texture, elasticity and glow of the skin.

Botox injections are often administered alongside facial acupuncture, but doctors advise patients wait at least four weeks after their last Botox session before having acupuncture.

Facial Acupuncture Vs. Other Non-Invasive Facial Treatments

You probably know that there are an incredible variety of non-invasive facial rejuvenation treatments on the market — from prescription collagen-boosting creams and essential oils to dermal lasers — that can help relax and tighten facial muscles while improving the skin’s appearance.

Much like Botox, many estheticians and acupuncturists recommend doubling- or tripling-up on treatments for your specific issues.

For example, you may consider pairing a chemical peel or laser treatment with cosmetic acupuncture if you want to address deep wrinkles and creases while also boosting collagen production.

Starting out with Facial Acupuncture

The two primary administrators of cosmetic acupuncture are acupuncturists and estheticians. According to Darren Starwynn, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine based in a Mill Valley, California, acupuncturists are more likely to yield positive results than estheticians, an ironic claim considering estheticians are trained in facial rejuvenation specifically, whereas acupuncturists concentrate on general physical health and well-being. [However, in the case of our practitioner, she is trained in both TCM acupuncture AND certified in facial rejuvenation and cosmetic acupuncture!]

Deciding whether or not to see an esthetician or an acupuncturist comes down to personal preferences — if you’re interested in traditional acupuncture while you receive cosmetic acupuncture and also want to address physical ailments, then you should see a traditional acupuncture practitioner. ”


Welcome Dr. Sarah D. Alemi, DAc to MCCAM

Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah D. Alemi, DAc, LAc, MPP and I am very excited to be a part of the McLean Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine. I have known Dr. Fan since 2010 as my own acupuncture practitioner and, from there, I became a part of the MCCAM team in 2014 as Dr. Fan’s clinical assistant. I earned my Master’s Degree in Acupuncture from the Maryland University of Health in 2016 and my Doctorate Degree in Acupuncture from the same university in 2017, overlapping both programs in earnest to practice. I was trained and educated in NADA (National Auricular Detoxification Association) Protocol during my Master’s program and became certified as an Acu Detox Specialist in 2016. This certification allows me to use a specific five-point auricular protocol to use for a variety of conditions, including addictions (whether food, chemical, smoking, etc.), anxiety, and trauma. It is an incredibly helpful protocol to add in to whole-body acupuncture treatments. I also studied under Virginia Doran, LAc to become trained in facial rejuvenation acupuncture or cosmetic acupuncture in 2015. I have re-trained with Virginia since, including helping her host a seminar at MCCAM in November 2017. From my training, I would argue that it is safe to say that I specialize in skin rejuvenation and dermatology. Along with the use of acupuncture, I am also skilled in body work through the use of tui na, cupping and gua sha – all of which can be used on both face and body. I look forward to my time at MCCAM and sharing my evolving and (hopefully!) expanding knowledge with you.


Dr. Sarah D. Alemi, DAc


What is Facial Rejuvenation?

By Dr. Alemi, DAc.

Some call is cosmetic acupuncture.

Some call it an acupuncture face-lift.

I like to refer to this treatment as facial rejuvenation acupuncture because it not only helps to address physical issues of the face, such as acne, pores, fine lines and wrinkles, but also address and improves internal conditions as well – such as improved blood and lymphatic circulation, increased collagen production and decreased stress.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is able to provide a safe, effective, natural and drug-free approach to reducing the signs of aging as well as imbalances in the skin, such as acne. This post is going to focus more on how an acupuncture treatment can help with the signs of aging.

According to TCM theory, wrinkles and other signs of aging begin internally from a constitutional imbalance and weakening of our  body’s internal energy system (i.e. think blood circulation, cell turn-over, reduced collagen production). The body’s natural energy flow is what provides nourishment, support and energy to every cell, tissue, muscle and organ.

As we get older, there a number of factors that contribute to wrinkles, sagging skin and other signs of aging. Poor diet, digestion and circulation problems, as well as emotional or environmental stressors can all play a role in the aging of the skin.

An acupuncture facial rejuvenation session tightens pores, improves muscle tone and dermal contraction while enhancing and increasing the elasticity of the skin. It can reduce signs of aging by strengthening and stimulating the body’s energy circulation, especially those of the face (i.e. blood and lymph). Through a succession of treatments (usually around 12), you will look and feel more energetic, vibrant and healthy.

Each session incorporates the insertion of particular acupuncture and intradermal needles into areas of concern or “imbalance” in order to help improve appearance and internal balance. Along with the needles, treatments are often combined with acupressure, massage, essential oils, facial cupping, jade and micro-dermarolling. Each of these techniques is virtually painless and, more importantly, is a non-surgical and non-chemical way to reduce the signs of aging.

Before considering invasive treatments to improve appearance, consider acupuncture as it is safe, natural and works to restore harmony on both the inside and out. 1


Skin & Traditional Chinese Medicine

Welcome to the McLean Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

We are excited to announce that on-board we now have Dr. Sarah. D. Alemi, DAc, LAc, MPP who specializes in facial rejuvenation and dermacology in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

This site will allow you to stay up-to-date on not only what services we are offering at our clinic, but continued information and education about skin care, how different dermatologic issues can be addressed and treated in TCM, how you can play a hand in improving and maintaining your own skin-care routine, and how our services are evolving.

Make sure to keep stopping by to see new information.  Or go to http://www.chinesemedicinedoctor. us to make an appointment with us today!