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How does micro-needling stimulate collagen?

By Michelle Gellis AP MAc LAc DiplAc

Collagen induction therapy or micro-needling works by stimulating the immune system and wound-healing mechanisms. As the micro-needles penetrate the skin causing micro-wounds, it triggers an intense inflammatory reaction that begins a cascade of subsequent reactions

microneedling collagen michelle gellis facial acupuncture classes
microneedling collagen induction

The skin’s nerve receptors and defense mechanisms sense these fine needle intrusions as a specific type of injury and heals accordingly.

microneedling collagen michelle gellis facial acupuncture classes

During the healing process, skin cells (within a 1 to 2 mm radius around the pricking channel) release growth signals to undifferentiated cells otherwise known as skin stem cells. These signals also stimulate rapid growth of new fibroblasts and other wound repairing cells.


microneedling collagen michelle gellis facial acupuncture classes
microneedling inducing fibroblasts collagen

Many cell types including new fibroblasts rush to close the wound by migrating to the point of intrusion. These new fibroblasts then transform into collagen fibers which integrate with existing collagen in the upper dermis.

The new collagen fibers thicken the skin, fill in wrinkles and encourage growth of healthy new skin cells. Clinica studies demonstrate the efficacy of microneedling. In one study biopsies taken from 10 different patients demonstrated an average increase in collagen and elastin fibers of 206% in one case a 1000% increase was recorded. For more information on microneedling go to aculiftskincare.com

The AcuLift™ Derma Roller brings the art of face needling home for everyday use


michelle gellis facial acupuncture classes treats mouth area

Safety Concerns When Treating the Face and Neck-Michelle Gellis AP DiplAc

michelle gellis facial acupuncture classes treats mouth area
michelle gellis facial acupuncture classes treats mouth area

Safety concerns when treating the face

Treating the face and neck area with acupuncture is unique with regards to safety concerns. Needling the face can pose challenges due to its heavily vascularized anatomy, relatively dense innervation and delicate and complex muscularisation. There are more blood vessels per sq cm on the face than elsewhere on the body. These vessels rise close to the surface in many areas. Although the face has more muscles per square centimeters than any part of the human body, there are only two main nerves that innervate the entire face, these nerves have tiny branches which encompass the entire face. needling into these can result in pain, neuropathy and possibly paralysis. As the face ages, these issues become more pronounced due to thinning of the skin, fat and bone loss.

Proper facial acupuncture training should involve in depth knowledge of diagnosis, history, assessment, anatomy, contraindications, red flags and documentation.

Unlike most forms of acupuncture, facial acupuncture can have serious side effects if done improperly. Due to raising energy to the head migraines, dizziness and potentially stroke can occur if these contraindications are not prescreened for thoroughly. Less serious side effects such as bruising and bleeding can be common, but are avoidable with adequate precautions.

The tools used for facial acupuncture are an important step in reducing many safety concerns. Specially designed intradermal needles for collagen enhancement, tiny glass facial cups and specially shaped gua sha tools all work in harmony to provide safe and effective treatments. If used properly these tools can relax a tight masseter, release fascial adhesions, move stagnant lymph and clear heat. Used improperly they can leave marks on the skin release a blood clot, or damage delicate capillaries.

Treating the neck can pose its own safety issues. Major veins and arteries are close to the surface. The skin on the neck is thin compared to many other parts of the body. Precision is required for needling points such as ST9, Ren 23, and SI17

Teaching facial acupuncture classes internationally and working as a clinic supervisor for almost 20 years I have noticed students hesitation to treat certain areas of the body. The eye area, lips and especially the neck are commonly avoided due to concerns of bruising or injury. Treating the neck is not inherently dangerous, it requires knowledge of anatomy and quality needles. In reality, the major venous structures in the neck are very thick and puncturing them would be difficult. I like to review anatomy and point location with my students in class to provide confidence. ST9 in particular can be a sticking point (no pun intended). The way I teach finding it is to tell my student to put two fingers on the larynx, ask the patient to swallow, when you feel the laryngeal prominence slide your index finger laterally into the space between the larynx and the SCM. Find the carotid pulse, and don’t needle there! The worst I have seen in needling the neck is a bruise from nicking a capillary, not lethal but can be unsightly.

The area around ST5 & 6 can be tricky as well due to facial veins and nerves, usually some gentle palpation, good lighting and a trained eye along with a generous application of arnica gel can alleviate any potential problems. I always keep some Yunnan baiyao and Q-tips close at hand when removing needles should any bleeding or bruising occur.

Expert training in prescreening, needling, and using palpation and visual skills, quality needles and other specialized tools, in-depth knowledge of facial anatomy, and appropriate lighting will address many of the potential issues when needling the face and neck. Even with these tools, remember that everyone’s facial structure is slightly different. I tell my students to practice facial acupuncture skills for 10-12 treatments before attempting to practice on a patient. Your comfort level will improve, and so will your patients satisfaction and results. You can learn more by going to facialacupunctureclasses.com.




Anatomy of Facial Expression

The Anatomy of Expression

By Michelle Gellis AP LAc MAc DiplAc

The anatomy of expression refers to the relationship between our facial expressions, our muscles, meridians and our inner universe. Our face is unique in its ability to radiate shen, display our emotions, desires, intentions, and provide a window into our overall health. As acupuncturists, we have the skills necessary to use the face as a tool to diagnose and treat underlying conditions which may ultimately lead to disease.

Seven Universal Emotions & Facial Expressions.
In the late 1800s, Charles Darwin suggested that facial expressions of emotion are the same wherever you go in the world.  In the late 20th century Dr. Paul Ekman traveled the world to research the universality of facial expressions and proved Charles Darwin’s theory was indeed correct. It is now widely supported within the scientific community that there are seven basic emotions, each with their own unique and distinctive facial expressions. They are: Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger, Contempt & Surprise.1 In addition to the seven basic emotions, there are 15 combination expressions they are:

Happy, Sad, Fearful, Angry, Surprised, Disgusted, Happily Surprised, Happily Disgusted, Sadly Fearful, Sadly Angry, Sadly Surprised, Sadly Disgusted, Fearfully Angry, Fearfully Surprised, Fearfully Disgusted, Angrily Surprised, Angrily Disgusted, Disgustedly Surprised, Appalled, Hatred, Awed.2,3

seven expressions
15 expressions  From: Compound facial expressions of emotion. Shichuan Du, Yong Tao, and Aleix M. Martinez

According to 5 element acupuncture principles, an individual’s overall health can be diagnosed through their color sound odor, and emotion. Color can be diagnosed by looking at the face, sound by the voice, odor by smelling the nape of the neck, and emotion can be understood through expression.

Chinese medicine and emotions. Looking at the Five Element correspondences provides insight into the relationship between emotions, organs, and facial expressions.

five elements
five element circles
  • Anger-LR/GB
  • Fear-KI/BL
  • Sympathy-disgust-SP/ST
  • Joy-Happiness-HT/SI/TE/PC
  • Grief-LU/LI
  • Fright-(surprise)-KI/BL

Looking at the emotions, we can see their effect on Qi:

  • Grief and melancholy consume qi
  • Fear causes qi to descend
  • Fright disperses the qi
  • Anger causes qi to rise and causes qi stagnation
  • Joy slows qi
  • Worry causes qi stagnation

‘The organs are portrayed in terms of their mental, emotional and spiritual functions. When emotions are prolonged, intense, or unexpressed, they inhibit the normal flow of Qi’- Su Wen Chapter

Feedback system between face and organs. There is a feedback system between the face,  emotions, and internal organs.  This system is intrinsic to the appearance of the face and health of the internal organs.  Studies have demonstrated if a person merely arranges their face into a certain expression, they will feel the corresponding emotion.4 Emotions work from the outside in, as well as the inside out – i.e. happiness may be as simple as ‘putting on a smile’.

An individual who cannot or does not express emotions through their facial expressions will not feel the emotion as fully. An experiment involving the use of Botoxtm to paralyze the facial muscles involved in frowning identified a decrease of depressive symptoms in patients. This demonstrated that facial feedback modulates the neural processing of emotions.5,6

Habitual patterns of expression get lodged in the face. The associated repressed or excessive emotions affect our organs. It is a two-way system with feedback from the face to the internal organs and vice versa. There must be a free flow of emotions to and from the face, hence, facial acupuncture can play an important role in promoting health. Any impediment to qi and blood flow in the points and channels of the face will translate to diminished function – both physical and emotional. Treating the acupuncture points responsible for specific muscle movements can create ease in the patient by opening up the pathways and return the muscle to a more normal level of functioning.

Obstruction of Qi. One of the most common causes of disease is the obstruction of the flow of qi (energetic blocks) caused by unexpressed emotions. Emotions aren’t a problem in and of themselves, it is our relation to the emotion that can cause our Qi to become blocked. In health, we feel emotions in the appropriate context and do not unconsciously react to the presence of that emotion in ourselves or in another. When we become triggered and have an unconscious learned habitual response that is where the problem lies. Our job as practitioners is to create awareness within our patients of these habitual responses.

Diagnosis: In order to determine which muscles are being used and require treatment, we can turn to Action Units. Action Units (AU) are the fundamental actions of individual muscles or groups of muscles. The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is a system to taxonomize human facial movements by their appearance on the face, based on a system originally developed by a Swedish anatomist named Carl-Herman Hjortst. It was later adopted by Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Friesen, and published in 1978.10

Categorizing Facial expressions.

  • Action Units (AUs) An AU is a set of facial muscle articulations that results in a unique visible image feature. For example, when the frontalis muscle contracts, there is a visible rising of the inner section of the eyebrows, and this is denoted AU 1.
    eye action units
    AU6 action unit of eyes


eye action units
eye action units anatomy of expression

Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is a system to classify human facial movements by their appearance on the face for example, when smiling, you would utilize the cheek raiser muscles which involve AU6, AU12(LIP CORNER PULLER ), AU25(Lips part)7

anatomy of expression
anatomy of expression

For example:

In order to treat expression lines involved in smiling you would treat:

Orbicularis Oculi: GB1, BL2, ST2, QUI HOU, Jiangming, TE 23, YUYAO, needled upwards

Orbicularis Oris: Two motor points: LI19, Located 1/2way between ST4 and REN24

Zygomaticus Major: SI 18

Depressor Labii Inferioris: jiachengjiang

Used with permission-Anatomy of Expression7

Action units can also be used to diagnose and treat complex expression of emotion such as: Happily Surprised-Happily Fearful-Happy Disgusted 3

From Compound facial expressions of emotion. Shichuan Du, Yong Tao, and Aleix M. Martinez

For each of the other basic emotions, the diagnosis and treatment methods are designed based on using the different AUs involved.

Treating the acupuncture point. One method of treatment is by directly addressing the points on the muscles responsible for specific muscle movements. This can create ease in the patient by opening up the pathways and return the muscle to a more normal level of functioning. Treating the acupuncture points in the muscles which are overused and have become tense or attenuated can return to their normal functioning.

Treating the channel. Besides treating the acupoint in the muscle, one must look at both the correlation of the acupuncture point and its corresponding organ system. If a patient has deep frown lines, which correspond to the expression of anger, treating heat or stagnation in the Liver channel may create ease and relax the forehead. Conversely, treating said points may also relax the liver.

Energetic blocks. In the five-element acupuncture style popularized by J.R. Worsley, a block is defined as ‘a break-in, or impediment to, the smooth flow of Qi.’8 The Ling Shu (Miraculous Pivot) teaches us, ‘Only when the stagnation is cleared away can the channels be vented and Yin and Yang be harmonized.’9 If qi and blood cannot flow smoothly through the points, channels, and muscles of the face, facial treatment will not be as effective and health will be compromised. Blocks are diagnosed in various ways. Some show up on the pulses as a disparity in the strength of one pulse in relation to another or in the strength of the left side pulses to the right (see below). Other blocks manifest primarily in a patient’s physical or psycho-emotional state. In some instances, a patient’s history can be indicative of a potential block, for example, physical injury, emotional trauma and drug or alcohol abuse. Blocks vary in severity and significance. Some are dire and require immediate attention, while others are less severe and merely resurface from time to time to cause troublesome symptoms. The list of blocks below shows the order of treatment priority if they are present: Possession (internal/external demons), Aggressive Energy, Husband-Wife, Entry-Exit (E/E).  In this article I will only briefly discuss Entry-Exit blocks, as they directly relate to the face. For a more detailed explanation of this and other blocks, please visit my class ‘The Anatomy of Expression’ and see my article,  ‘the importance of clearing blocks prior to facial acupuncture treatment4. For detailed information on the diagnosis and treatment of the other blocks please refer to The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine.11

In Su Wen Chapter 8 the organs are portrayed in terms of their mental, emotional and spiritual functions. When emotions are prolonged, intense, or unexpressed, they inhibit the normal flow of qi. As mentioned, one of the most common causes of disease is the obstruction of the flow of qi caused by unexpressed emotions. Any energetic blocks which may be occurring to inhibit the proper functioning of the muscle and smooth flow of qi throughout the channel. Repetitive or repressed expressions can not only affect a person’s appearance but can affect the associated organ system. In the following case, the fire and wood officials.

For example, if during diagnosis a practitioner assessed an entry-exit block on the pulse that pointed to a block between TH ad GB (TH pulse larger than GB) the practitioner should look at both the local indications such as temporal headaches, or ringing in the ears and the spirit of the points (see below), then assess what the underlying root cause of the condition is.

Entry/exit points on the face


Treatment for VI/VII (TH/GB) block
To treat this block the practitioner would:

  • Tonify* the exit point of the lower-numbered meridian (stronger pulse) (TE)
  • Then tonify* the entry point of the next meridian(GB)
  • This is done bilaterally
  • Remove, seal

*Tonify=insert needle, turn 180 degrees clockwise






Below is an example of the spirit of the points a practitioner might use depending on the patient’s presentation. This is taken directly from my live and recorded classes “The Anatomy of Expression12 and “Facial Acupuncture Certification12

Spirit of the points:
Entry/Exit on face
SJ22 Erheliao- Harmony Bone- exit on San Jiao-harmonizes GB, SI, and TH. Useful for a patient driven to pursue inappropriate connection in an attempt to experience intimacy or warmth.
GB1-Tong zi liao-entry on GB-orbit bone-helps to drain heat due to our mental and emotional frustration. Hard to make decisions when one has pain, or difficulty seeing. this point can be used to promote clarity and vision at all levels of BMS.

Body points:
GB41-Foot Above Tears
-Allows for emotional release of frustration/anger.
-Grounds the patient.
-Spreads stagnant Qi in Liver and GB channel

TE17-Wind Screen
-Empowers us to be less susceptible to other people’s opinions about us11
-Activates the channel,
-Alleviates wind, clears heat.
-Local point for lifting the face.
The order of treatment would be to first clear blocks and then treat any local face points and or spirit points. Facial cupping and Gua Sha can also be an effective tool in releasing the tense muscles and Improving blood and qi flow to under or overused muscles.

In conclusion, the face can be a useful diagnostic tool for diagnosis and treatment planning. Our entire history lives in our face and it etched in our facial expressions. Relaxing and tonifying muscles, treating the spirit, and clearing energetic blocks can bring forth universal emotional, spiritual, and energetic shifts in our patients.

4 https://facialacupunctureclasses.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/The-Importance-of-Clearing-Blocks-Prior-to-Facial-Acupuncture-Treatment1.pdf
5Klasen, M., Kreifelts, B., Chen, Y. et al. (2014). Neural processing of emotion in multimodal settings, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8:822, doi: 10.3389/ fnhum.2014.00822
6Hennenlotter, A., Dresel, C., Castrop, F. et al. (2009). The link between facial feedback and neural activity within central circuitries of emotion–new insights from botulinum toxin induced denervation of frown muscles, Cereb Cortex, 19(3), pp. 537-42
7 Zarins, Uldis. (2017) Anatomy of Facial Expressions. Anatomy Next, Inc., New York.
8 Smith, S.M. (1998). The Five Element Acupuncture Handbook. S.M. Smith: Columbia, p.147
9 Veith, I. (1972). The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. University of California Press: Oakland, p.260
10 https://www.paulekman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Facial-Sign-Of-Emotional-Experience.pdf
11Jarrett, L.S. (2003). The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine. Spirit Path Press: Richmond
12 https://www.facialacupunctureclasses.com

Practicing Facial Acupuncture during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Safely Treating your Patients Face During the Pandemic

I am pleased to share this recent 60-minute presentation for the Florida Society of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine on how to treat your patient’s face safely during the pandemic.

During this lecture you will learn:

  • How to make a modified mask
  • How to protect yourself and your treatment space
  • Points you can use on both the body and face to achieve maximum results
  • Alternative therapies which can boost your treatment outcome

View the video by clicking the preview below, or click here to open the link on YouTube.

michelle gellis teaches facial acupuncture

Bringing Facial Acupuncture into your Practice Through Telemedicine and Beyond

-Michelle Gellis AP LAc DiplAc

“The lines on our face are an outward manifestation of our inner world”

Facial Acupuncture is a profitable and sought-after addition to your acupuncture practice. For the time being, due to concerns over covid-19, many of us have turned to telehealth to treat our patients. Adding Facial Acupuncture to your telehealth is a wonderful way to support our patients both physically and emotionally and for those of us who are reopening, how to treat our patients face if they are wearing a mask can pose new obstacles.

Telehealth can be a great way to perform an intake for new patients, and to support existing patients. Telehealth provides an opportunity to expand our practice, it is safe for those patientstelehealth acupuncture cartoon who might have otherwise not come to us because of the needles and provides us away to reach a wider patient base.

Chinese medicine is uniquely suited to help our patients during this difficult time, and to get a deeper understanding of our patients while still limiting our contact with them. Many of our patients have had a lack of outside care. Spa type treatments such as facials, fillers, lasers etc. are done through hands-on contact. With these services shut down, our patients have not been able to receive the treatments they are used to. However, as acupuncturists we have a multitude of diagnostic and treatment tools at our disposal.

Facial Diagnosis.

One way you can perform your diagnosis is via one of the medical video platforms that are available. This can be for new patients, checking in with established patients or each time before treating a patient. Talk to your patients regarding their diet, alcohol consumption, sleep, and stress level during this time. Many have been dealing with anger/frustration, grief/loss, fear/isolation, or over- nurturing of home schooled children or aging parents. Each of these emotions relates to one of the five elements in some way and can provide clues to diagnosis. Using some five element skills you can also diagnose your patients facial color and the sound of their voice. Tongue diagnosis can be done both through telehealth video and through a photo. Although you cannot feel their pulse, you can ask them to count their pulse to get the rate or use their fit bit or other device.  Lines in the face can also provide diagnostic information. Nasolabial lines and Crows feet=fire, sagging jowls and marionette lines=earth, horizontal lines on forehead and/or furrowed brow=anger/sadness/sympathy/skepticism/pain, lip wrinkles top=over nurturing/bottom=bitterness and more. Other diagnostic clues specifically for cosmetic patients can be signs like hooded eyelids or dark spots.


gellis facial acupuncture meridians
acupuncture meridians on face-gellis

Treatment through telemedicine can take many forms. Support through verbal offerings can be a wonderful way to get energy moving. Asking into what your patient is going through, how are they dealing with it, and providing healthy alternatives in the form of recommendations for any area you may have specialized knowledge in such as Qigong, meditation, breathing exercises, nutrition etc. Acupressure and or ear seeds are very effective for various facial conditions. Through telemedicine platforms you can use visual aids and teach easily located facial and distal points for acupressure to patients such as SI19, LI20, GB14 and LI4 in addition to instruction on placement of ear seeds. There are several points that correspond to the face right on the earlobe!

Facial cupping and Facial GuaSha are safe, effective techniques your patients can practice at home. They stimulate blood flow, increase collagen and provide lymphatic drainage. If you are not familiar with these protocols, I offer several CEU classes on these topics on my website which you can demonstrate to you patients. A Microneedle Derma Roller is also a useful tool for patients to use at home either between telemedicine treatments or once you open for between treatments. Aculift brand is approved for use in the treatment room by the American Acupuncture Council and is effective on wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks, loose skin, acne scars and reduction of hair loss, as well as being excellent for pitted skin & stretch marks. Lastly, herbs can be recommended that can help with skin conditions such as rosacea, acne, dryness and sagging.


Once you re-open

Once you re-open your practice, you may have concerns about how to treat your patients if they are wearing a mask. Whether you are treating them for cosmetic, neuromuscular facial conditions or 5E block clearing, there are points on the face that can be difficult to access if your patient is wearing a mask. I have outlined some points that can substitute for points you would normally use.

Points that lift the face:

ST8, TE17, GB2, Distal points on LI & ST can treat the mouth/lips.

Other options: Dr. Tan, Scalp Acupuncture, Auricular points. There are other protocols I teach such as submuscular needling of the Auricular Muscles and treating along the supraorbital nerve to treat the areas of the face you cannot reach when a patient is wearing a mask. When thinking about entry/exit blocks the only point you cannot access is LI20. One alternative would be acupressure or accessing LI18 which is just lateral to the SCM in line with ST9. Wearing a face shield in addition to a face mask can be beneficial as well.

gellis guasha
michelle gellis demonstrates facial guasha

Maintaining your facial acupuncture practice in the midst of a pandemic can be especially challenging. But given the right set of skills and forethought, supporting our patients on a body, mind and spirit level is quite possible and can widen the breadth and depth of your practice tremendously.





Michelle Gellis Cosmetic Acupuncture

Telemedicine and cosmetic acupuncture — free webinar

I recently had the pleasure of presenting this 1.5 hour webinar and Q&A on telemedicine and cosmetic acupuncture, and how to do cosmetic acupuncture safely during the pandemic, on behalf of the Maryland Acupuncture Society. If you want to try more on-demand learning after viewing this webinar, please view my list of other available courses.

Use the link below to view the webinar:

Bringing Cosmetic Acupuncture Into Your Practice, NOW With Telemedicine, and Moving Forward with Michelle Gellis from Michelle on Vimeo.

michelle gellis teaches facial acupuncture

1 hour free webinar on adding facial acupuncture to your practice


Michelle Gellis teaches Facial Acupuncture
Michelle Gellis teaches Facial Acupuncture

Click here for 1 hour free webinar on adding facial acupuncture to your practice

The Use of Motor Points in Facial Acupuncture

By Michelle Gellis AP, DiplAc

The use of motor points in the acupuncture treatment of musculoskeletal pain has become very popular in recent years. Less familiar to most practitioners is the use of facial motor points in the treatment of both neuromuscular conditions, and for cosmetic purposes. The use of motor points to treat pain dates back to the work of A.H. Bennett, M.D. in 1882.1 More recently, the work of several researchers has built the foundation for the growing use of motor points by acupuncturists to restore muscle function.2

Motor points are located at the most electrically excitable part of the muscle where the motor nerve bundle is attached. More specifically, a motor point is defined as ‘the skin region where an innervated muscle is most accessible to percutaneous electrical excitation at the lowest intensity. This point, on the skin, generally lies over the neurovascular hilus of the muscle and the muscle’s band or zone of innervation.’3 When a muscle is in spasm, it has lost its ability to function properly. Correct needle insertion into the muscle’s motor point will cause it to ‘jump’, which resets the muscle to normal function. When a muscle is in flaccid state, it has also lost its ability to fire properly. By stimulating the motor point, the flaccid muscle can return to a functional state. Motor points are not the same as trigger points. Trigger points are tender points in the muscle that most people refer to as ‘knots’, which can refer pain to other parts of the body.4 Motor points tend to contain a larger concentration of nerve endings than other areas in the muscle and are more electrically excitable.5 They are neuromuscular junctions and are anatomically specific6

Facial motor points are unique in several ways: 1) Facial muscles are thinner than most of the muscles in our body therefore require a different needling technique. 2) Most muscles in our bodies attach to bones or other muscles, however facial muscles attach to our skin, giving us the ability to make facial expressions. Therefore, they can be used to rejuvenate the skin by relaxing tight muscle and wrinkles. 3) Unlike the motor points on the body, there are no huatuojiaji points that correspond to the motor points on the face.

Many facial motor points correspond with traditionally documented acupuncture points, such as Yangbai GB-14 for the frontalis muscle and Quanliao SI-18 for the zygomaticus major muscle.7 They are often located in the belly of the muscle. Motor points used in treating facial conditions are all innervated by the seventh cranial nerve, except those of the masseter and temporalis muscles. To determine which motor points to needle, one must identify which muscle(s) are affected. For example, if a patient cannot smile, there are four main muscles that may be affected. The zygomaticus major (which draws the angle of the mouth upward and outward), zygomaticus minor (elevates the upper lip), the levator labii superioris (elevates the upper corner of mouth) and the risorius (retracts the angle of the mouth laterally). Once the affected muscles have been identified, the corresponding motor points can be treated. Motor point needling is effective for many conditions involving paralysis. Needling a motor point helps a muscle to recover its length. Readers should note that learning to locate and needle facial motor points effectively typically requires special training, usually in a hands-on environment. Arnica gel is usually applied to the skin to prevent bruising, and a 0.16-millimeter gauge needle is inserted into the belly of the muscle and vigorously lifted and thrusted until the muscle jumps. If performed incorrectly, stimulation of a motor point can cause damage to the facial nerves. Proper screening for contraindications such as neuropathy or concurrent use of anticoagulants, or thrombocytopenia or lymphedema is essential. Recorded webinars on the use of facial motor points and live classes on cosmetic acupuncture can be accessed at https://www,facialacupunctureclasses.com.

Part of this article was taken from the Journal of Chinese Medicine • Number 110 • February 2016-A Multifaceted Approach to the Acupuncture Treatment of Neuromuscular Facial Conditions-Michelle Gellis

1 Bennet, A., (1882). A Practical Treatise on Electro-diagnosis in Diseases of the Nervous System. J.H. Vail & Company: New York

2 Gunn, C.C., Milbrandt, W.E, Little, A.S. & Mason, K.E. (2002). “Dry-Needling of Muscle Motor Points for Chronic Low-Back Pain: a randomized clinical trial with long-term follow-up” Spine, 5, 279-29

3 Callison, M., (2007). Motor Point Index: An Acupuncturist’s Guide to Locating and Treating Motor Points. AcuSport Seminar Series: San Diego

4 Hong, C.Z. (1994). “Lidocaine Injection Versus Dry Needling to Myofascial Trigger Point”, American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 73, 256–263.

5Lomo, T. (1976) “The role of activity in the control of membrane and contractile properties of skeletal muscle” in Thesleff, S., (ed.). Motor Innervation of Muscle. Academic Press: London

6Walthard, K.M. & Tchicaloff, M. (1971). Motor points. Electrodiagnosis and electromyography. Licht, S., (ed.), Third Edition. Waverly Press: Baltimore, Chapter 6, p 153-170

7 Liu, Y.K., Varela, M. & Oswald, R., (1975). “The correspondence between some motor points and acupuncture loci”, American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 3, 347-358.





Studies on Cosmetic Acupuncture

cosmetic acupuncture of eyelid
facial acupuncture of eyelid

I am frequently asked about studies and articles which have been done on facial acupuncture. I’ve compiled a list  of a few.

The Importance of Clearing Blocks Prior to Facial Acupuncture Treatment

The following article, “The Importance of Clearing Blocks Prior to Facial Acupuncture Treatment”, was published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine. Below is the abstract and a link to the article.


Rooted in traditional acupuncture theory, the method of clearing blocks before initiating further treatment is essential to facial acupuncture. A block is defined as a break in, or impediment to, the smooth flow of qi through the body. Blocks can prevent facial acupuncture treatment from being effective, and unless cleared can mean treatment can aggravate patients’ symptoms. This article covers the theory, diagnosis and treatment of blocks as practised in the five element style of acupuncture, and discusses the importance of clearing these blocks in order for facial acupuncture to be safe and effective. Also included is a discussion of the feedback mechanism between our emotions, facial expressions and internal organs, and why clearing blocks is vital to this mutual exchange.

Click on link below for the full article:

The Importance of Clearing Blocks Prior to Facial Acupuncture Treatment-Michelle Gellis

Importance of Clearing Blocks Prior to Facial Acupuncture Treatment JCM article-Michelle Gellis
Importance of Clearing Blocks Prior to Facial Acupuncture Treatment JCM article-Michelle Gellis


Michelle Gellis teaching facial acupuncture

Five Important Reasons for Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes

By Michelle Gellis, AP, DiplAc.

For those seeking to add Facial Acupuncture to their practice, this article discusses the importance of proper training with facial acupuncture CEU certification classes.

Facial Acupuncture, also known as Cosmetic Acupuncture, is one of the fastest growing areas in our industry. When done properly it can add value and an additional stream of income to your practice. Many practitioners have recognized this and are jumping on the bandwagon. However, some are attempting to practice without getting facial acupuncture certification. This has lead to untrained practitioners, and improper technique which unfortunately is being publicized on social media, and other places on the internet.

As a nationally recognized, published expert in facial acupuncture my facial acupuncture CEU certification classes are designed to uphold the integrity, safety and professionalism of cosmetic acupuncture.  Many of the photos circulating on social media portray facial acupuncture practices involving excessive needles, placed improperly.

The following are five reasons why it is crucial to get facial acupuncture certification before attempting to practice on your patients.

Michelle Gellis teaches Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes throughout the US
Michelle Gellis teaches Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes

1) The overall efficacy of facial acupuncture treatment is dependent on in-depth knowledge of Facial Anatomy and Neuroanatomy. During a facial acupuncture CEU certification class  you will review the nerves, muscles and bones which make up the intricate facial structure and function of the facial nerves, muscles and vascular system.

2) TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE! Proper needling technique must be taught in a hands-on supervised environment. Facial acupuncture has unique safety concerns. Due to the number of needles used in facial acupuncture, the fragility of the facial blood vessels and capillaries, proper training is required to understand the precautions which must be taken in order to avoid bruising or swelling. Additionally, techniques such as submuscular needling, proper use of intradermals, facial motor points, and scalp acupuncture are not something you can self teach. The photos below represent proper and improper needling techniques.

examples of improper facial acupuncture needling. learn how to avoid these mistakes during a Michelle Gellis Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes
Examples Improper needling techniques

Improper Facial Acupuncture Needling:Proper Facial Needling Technique:

photos of facial acupuncture technique
gellis acupuncture CEU classes facial needling technique

3) Learning to screen for contraindications is imperative. Unlike most forms of acupuncture, facial acupuncture can have serious side effects if done improperly. Migraines, stroke, bruising and feinting can occur if these contraindications are not screened for thoroughly. Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes will review potential contraindications to treatment.

Michelle Gellis teaches Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes throughout the US
Michelle Gellis teaches Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes throughout the US

4) Facial Acupuncture must include a comprehensive treatment protocol. In order to properly ground the patient, address underlying pathology, and treat all levels of the face (skin, muscles, fat, etc.) body points, clearing treatments, facial cupping, facial gua sha and microneedle derma rolling should all be included in treatment.

Michelle Gellis teaches Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes throughout the US
Small Hands on Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes taught by Michelle Gellis
Reverse signs of aging. Michelle Gellis teaches Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes throughout the US
One on One instruction

5) It’s not just about wrinkles! Skin care is not something that is typically taught in acupuncture school. Treating conditions such as acne, melasma, rosacea, large pores, brown spots, “drinkers nose” broken capillaries, pale skin etc. requires knowledge of the etiology, TCM protocols, nutrition, and topical products which can rejuvenate and maintain a youthful and healthy glow to the skin.You can learn more about Gellis Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes by visiting my website. All classes are NCCAOM, FL and CA approved for CEUs.