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A Holistic Blend: Pairing Esthetics and Acupuncture

By: Michelle O'Shaughnessy, DOM
Posted: May 30, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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As spas have become refuges for healing, wellness and balance, more and more clients are seeking out these kinds of holistic treatments. These facilities help clients look and feel better and have more energy, leading to clients returning to a particular spa again and again. An acupuncturist can help you develop this type of client relationship, but it’s good to be mindful of how such holistic offerings will fit in with your already existing treatment menu—not to mention your staff.

When spa owners rent rooms to acupuncturists, an often unfortunate result is that the acupuncturist doesn’t get involved with other areas of the spa. When this happens, the result can be that the acupuncturist is viewed as separate by the other spa employees, as many of them don’t understand acupuncture and the acupuncturist doesn’t understand what the estheticians or other employees do either. All this lack of understanding boils down to one two-pronged problem—a loss of revenue for the spa and a loss of services to the client when both should be exponentially increasing.

Offer complementary combinations

To attain the best results from your partnership with an acupuncturist, as well as to ensure you are fostering a greater understanding between acupuncture and esthetics among your clients and staff, focus on the following types of spa services so the two modalities work in harmony to give your clients and the spa the best possible benefits.

  • Acne. The acupuncturist treats the condition for imbalances within the body that cause the infection. While the client has the treatment needles in, an esthetician can do a chemical peel or deep-cleansing facial on the face.
  • Sagging skin and eye lids, jowls, wrinkles, and fine lines. The acupuncturist does an acupuncture facelift, which entails needles on the face, neck and body. The needles work to nourish the deficiencies of the body, and for the face, cause a micro trauma that stimulates collagen and elastin production in the dermis. This treatment addresses the core issues of aging inside the body, as well as the effects of aging on the face, and it offers a good lead-in to esthetic options. For example, after the facelift, an esthetician performs a facial to the recently treated skin. The acupuncturist has stimulated blood and oxygen to the face, and the esthetician offers a calming massage and mask application, leaving skin hydrated and refreshed.The best results come from offering this treatment as a series of 12, with the client partaking in the service once a week for 12 weeks. With this type of maintenance, the tightness of the skin and softening of the lines can last about three to five years depending on a client’s lifestyle.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles. An esthetician performs a massaging, relaxing facial massage to help calm the client, and then the acupuncturist gives the client a homeopathic injection to plump up the fine lines. This injection is completely natural and does not contain botulism or any other form of poison, working only with homeopathic remedies that stimulate collagen and elastin. The esthetician can then finish with an anti-aging mask.
  • A sagging neck. Another type of homeopathic injection is called the tissue tone, and it works to tighten up skin. This can help with the chicken neck look, as well as any loose skin on the neck. It is recommended that you also do the injection before applying the mask, and this homeopathic injection can again be done in a series of 10. The advantages of these injections are many. Collagen and elastin are built up in the dermis after the injection series, so the client doesn’t need another homeopathic injection for six months to a year. The series entails one shot a week for five weeks and then one every other week for another five weeks, so you can offer the shots as a stand-alone service or with other treatments, as they take an acupuncturist only approximately 15 minutes to perform. Also, spas can entice clients to the service by offering an incentive discount to those who pay for the whole series of 10 injections in advance.
  • Hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Give acupuncture treatments to help build up the yin of the body, because, by nourishing the yin—or body fluids—internally, the melanocytes can stop producing a darker melanin. And while the client receives an acupuncture treatment in the body, the esthetician can do a lightening treatment on the face. Also, in addition to the treatments, you have the opportunity to sell the appropriate skin-lightening home care products and sunscreens.
  • Pre- and post-operative care. The two modalities of esthetics and acupuncture can work together as an intricate part of the preparation and recovery processes. Estheticians can do a series of hydrating facials to get the skin appropriately hydrated and prepped for surgery, while acupuncture can build up the body and get it into balance before a procedure. Following the surgery, estheticians can provide lymphatic drainage massage, while an acupuncturist can treat acupuncture points to invigorate blood flow and help reduce bruising. The collaboration of esthetics and acupuncture can help reduce recovery time and leave the client feeling great.
  • Weight loss. An acupuncturist can work to help stimulate the metabolism, while an esthetician can offer full body wraps that help eliminate fat and detoxify the body.
  • Hair loss. An acupuncturist can stimulate blood to the scalp, as well as nourish the body, creating a good environment for follicle regrowth. This can be done in conjuction with the hair regrowth treatments that are given by an esthetician, bringing in treatment opportunities for various departments, as well as providing the chance to work together for wellness. Note, if the treatment is being performed on a man who has been bald for years, the results will likely be limited.
  • Chinese herbal formulas. These can be used to treat acne, fine lines, sagging and aid with recovery from surgery. The herbs can additionally be sold to help with stress, anxiety, headaches, insomnia and menopausal symptoms, and there are great classic formulas available that are already prepared and can help with many common ailments you can include in your retail area.

By offering these herbs in your retail area alongside other spa products, your spa shows a dedication to wellness. Furthermore, encourage all your spa’s employees to learn as much as they can about herbs so every department is involved in promoting wellness and health to all your clients.

Bring people together

Making sure everyone is comfortable with these types of services is a significantly important element, as well. Start with your staff members. Familiarize them with acupuncture by letting each experience a treatment while talking with the acupuncturist about how the treatments work. This will help educate team members on acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas, allowing them to learn more about the benefits of these services.