Word of caution on facial acupuncture

I am a registered acupuncturist and a family practitioner with a special interest in aesthetic medicine.

In my practice, I see many patients who suffer from acne and pimples. Following your report, some of them have asked me about the use of acupuncture to treat their conditions (Pin cushion for beauty; June 20).

While there are reports of anecdotal cases where patients have benefited from acupuncture, this is what the British Acupuncture Council publishes on its website about the use of acupuncture in acne: "There is very little research on acupuncture and acne outside of China. Most of the trials to date are of low quality and the conclusions of the systematic review should be viewed in that light."

Personally, I prefer to treat pimples and acne according to the guidelines issued by the American Academy of Dermatology.

I would caution patients who wish to be treated with acupuncture about the potential spread of bacterial infection, which is the source of acne from the use of acupuncture needles.

On the use of facial cosmetic acupuncture, while some preliminary studies have shown promising results in improving facial elasticity, further large-scale trials with controlled designs and objective measurements are needed.

I hope this perspective will assist readers in making a more informed choice of treatment.

Steven Gregory Ang Boon Kiang (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'Word of caution on facial acupuncture'. Print Edition | Subscribe