“Are there drawbacks to intentionally switching off our facial muscles? Because instinctively it feels like there might be.”
As we approach the tail end of our thirties, we start to notice fine lines and wrinkles where plump skin once was. Early signs of aging cause many to ponder how to hit the pause button. We try out creams, oils, lasers, and peels attempting to recognize our changing reflections, and of course there are cosmetic injections.
If you haven’t tried Botox to smooth facial lines yourself, chances are you don’t have to travel through too many degrees of separation to find someone who has. Botox was first approved as an eye disorder treatment and later repurposed for the cosmetic market, gaining FDA approval in 2002.
The popularity of Botox and its expanded market has driven sales from millions to multi-billions, and after many years on the market, Botox has, for all appearances, proven to be safe and effective. Even so, are there drawbacks to intentionally switching off our facial muscles? Because instinctively it feels like there might be.
[Read: “Your Face on Happiness.” ]
On the surface, Botox and its generic alternatives appear to be the wonder shots we’ve been looking for. But if this is true, why do some of us leave the procedure with a not-so-holistic feeling?
Repetitively rendering muscles inactive can, over time, result in a loss of strength and structure of the muscle itself. Reduction in the mass of facial muscles may create sinking, wrinkles, and the potential for facial asymmetry.
If we consider Botox from a holistic traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) approach, we discover that our Qi (life force) and blood, are directly intertwined. When blood is not given the chance to optimally reach the skin, it may become dry and lose coveted elasticity. The ability to replenish collagen and elastin may become diminished from this Qi disruption in the treated areas and compromise optimal nourishment distribution on the surface. This means your skin could age a little more rapidly and over time appear thinner, looser, or perhaps dryer than it would have without Botox as a long-term cosmetic protocol.
Holistic Alternative: Cosmetic Acupuncture
Some forward thinkers and fans of holistic health look to Botox alternatives like cosmetic acupuncture, face massage, herbs, and even making faces at themselves, literally, as they restore their muscle strength and relationship with their reflection through face yoga.
Cosmetic acupuncture works by delivering microtraumas to the face, which sounds much more painful than it is. This is because the needles used to puncture and stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems are very tiny and many of the higher-quality needles are coated in silicone to deliver a pleasant treatment.
Stimulating these systems has the opposite effect of Botox’s inhibition on the Qi. Instead, acupuncture works to enhance delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the skin cells, nourishing skin from the inside out. Microtraumas encourage collagen production, improving elasticity and over time minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.
Meridian lines span the upper and lower body, so be prepared for your cosmetic treatment to not be confined to the face alone. Practitioners respond according to the theory of Chinese medicine, and each person’s aging process is unique. Patients with bleeding disorders, and pregnant women are some individuals who may find cosmetic acupuncture contraindicated.
Holistic Alternatives: Face Yoga & TCM Tools
If you’re not into needles and like taking control into your own hands, face yoga (typically a series of expression exercises to tone facial muscles) or TCM tools may be your entry point into the alternative approach.
For example, popular Jade Gua Sha stones can help skin absorb creams and oils. Like cosmetic acupuncture, yang-focused tools target microcirculation and increased cell turnover. Traditional multi-reflex tools can also be aimed towards the yin foundations, firming, and toning the skin while enhancing hydration.
Choose With Intention & Intuition
For all those who are not ready to go gently into that good night, the pleasant news is that the maturing process, like life itself, is full of choices. We have the chance to knowledgeably enjoy aging in the 21st century and try out what suits us as individuals while listening to our holistic selves along the way.
Feeling confident and embracing our own reflection is instantaneous for some and takes a lifetime for others. That is why sharing experiences and supporting one another along our respective journeys helps us all. Perhaps we can’t turn back time, be we can proactively embrace what is out there, acknowledge the impartiality of the mirror itself, and maybe even take the leap and look through eyes capable of beholding beauty that is timeless.
Read our free ebook, "Health Aging for Mind, Body & Spirit."