Multiple surveys have shown that the more attractive one looks, the easier it will be to find employment, and make romantic relationships when we reach adulthood.
Even at a younger age, experiments have shown that an attractive child who misbehaves in the classroom will often be treated more leniently than a less attractive one.
No wonder we all want to look young and good looking for as long as we can. Beyond the vanity aspect of refusing to accept our age, the sobering fact is that the older we look, the harder it is to find employment in later life.
Unlike some Asian cultures, where ageing is respected as a mark of wisdom, older people in our society often reach the end of their life feeling worthless and rejected. One understands why the search for eternal youth and beauty has become a multi- billion dollar industry worldwide.
Of course, the sad reality is that no matter how hard we try, we can't stop ageing.
Most Western cosmetic treatments aim to improve the quality of the skin without addressing the overall health of the person. This is a contradiction to anyone who practises Oriental medicine.
As we discussed last month, in Traditional Chinese Medicine the outside of the body is viewed as a reflection of the functioning of the inside. As an example, if our digestion is not working properly, the condition of our skin will be affected. So the best long term approach is to address the problem both from the inside and the outside. Acupuncture treatments can improve your organ function and blood circulation, which will, in turn, have an effect on your skin and general appearance.
The use of specific acupuncture techniques on the face to enhance beauty and preserve youth has been practised in China for many centuries, and is now slowly becoming a popular substitute for many Western patients who are reluctant to undergo surgery or have chemicals injected under their skin.
Cosmetic acupuncture has the advantage of not involving any invasive and potentially risky procedures such as incisions, sutures or acid peels.
According to American cosmetic acupuncturist Martha Lucas, "Cosmetic acupuncture is a good alternative for women who don't want the side effects associated with a surgical facelift." The Colorado-based practitioner explains that the aim of facial acupuncture is to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin to help smooth out wrinkles and improve the overall condition and texture of the skin. While the resulting effects are similar to having a Botox injection, in facial acupuncture very fine needles are painlessly inserted in specific patterns under the skin of the chin, jaws and eyes. But can it really achieve the same results?
It pays to remember that the condition of our skin is a reflection of decades of accumulated stress, sun damage, and exposure to environmental toxins, so it would be unrealistic to expect instant improvement without surgical intervention or the injection of foreign substances under our skin.
In order to avoid creating unrealistic expectations, and ultimately disappointment, the American Cosmetic Acupuncture Association discourages the use of the term "facelift" in connection with the treatment. Nevertheless, many patients have found the Oriental approach very worthwhile. Martha Lucas describes how after a series of 10 treatments, performed twice a week for five weeks, her patients comment that their skin has become more delicate and many of their wrinkles have vanished. They notice a general marked improvement in their facial skin tone with less sagginess, resulting in lifting of drooping eyelids and a clearing of age spots and other skin blemishes.
The advantage of adapting the slower Oriental approach to cosmetic treatment versus the more conventional Western medical model is that the overall health of the entire body will be addressed at the same time. This leads to an increase in energy, well being and a potentially longer lifespan.
Also, I would like to think that in accepting that acupuncture cosmetic improvements will not be as quick and spectacular as other more invasive methods, we would revaluate the importance of the whole procedure in the first place.
Ultimately, we have to get used to the fact that our body is getting a little older every day. Eastern and Western cosmetic treatments will only produce expensive and short-term improvements if we are not living to our true potential.
To make the most of our life we might need to make alterations to our lifestyle, improve our diet, reduce our stress, do a little more exercise, and maybe learn not take life so seriously. After all has been said and done, happiness is what really keeps people looking younger as the years go by!
Olivier Lejus MHSC.BHSc. is a registered acupuncturist practising in Sydney
Olivier Lejus BHSc.MHSc. is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist practising in Sydney. A former casual university lecturer and tutor in Oriental medicine with over 15 years experience in clinical practice, Olivier specialises in Japanese- style acupuncture for the treatment of male and female infertility, migraine, pain, and insomnia.www.olejusacupuncture.com