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Aesthetic Acupuncture Is the Botox Alternative Models Love

New York-based Dr. Travall Croom is pioneering the treatment, of which Jacquelyn Jablonski, Brooks Nader, Hunter McGrady, Missy Rayder, Wyclef Jean and more are fans.

Beauty’s wellness movement is ushering in a new wave of facials.

Aesthetic acupuncture is the practice of using motor points in the face to relax or activate various facial muscles. The treatment has become popular among the model and influencer set for its lifting effects, which, according to New York City-based aesthetic acupuncturist Dr. Travall Croom, are comparable to those of Botox and filler.

Croom developed his aesthetic acupuncture facial six years ago when a model for the now-defunct Victoria’s Secret fashion show came to him to aid her neck and shoulder issues.

“Within three treatments, her neck and shoulder were better,” said Croom, whose office is located in Midtown.

The model then asked him to work on her face, starting with her jawline and, eventually, her entire facial region.

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“She was referring other models,” he said. “It was always about how can I then improve the tabletime? That’s how I came up with the idea of layering the different types of treatment into the process.”

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Acupuncture is at the core of his now-signature treatment, which also incorporates elements of more traditional facials. After an initial consultation, Croom uses a gua sha stone to break up adhesions in the facial fascia. He then applies a serum that he makes himself.

“It’s an herbal-based serum with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C,” he said. “This is the first thing that’s put on before needling. That’s usually applied with an oxygen concentrator.”

He proceeds to needle motor points on the face, focusing on facial expression muscles. The needles work the muscles for about 20 minutes, during which he places an LED panel across the patient’s face. Next, he applies a sheet mask that he uses as a conductor for a 20-minute microcurrent treatment.

“I program the unit to change frequencies every five minutes for the 20 minutes,” he said. “Each frequency is for a different purpose. Some are to relax the muscles and tone them, some are for circulation and some are to stimulate collagen production.”

The facial ends with cupping, which pulls blood up through each layer of the face, helping to drain off any excess fluid. Each session costs $200, though patients have the option to buy a package of 12, which includes one free session, facial products and a bottle of marine collagen.

Croom typically sees between eight and 12 patients a day, most of whom work in fashion and beauty. Results, he said, can be seen immediately, depending on the patient, and can last from three to seven days. The only risk is the potential for bruising.

“Sometimes when you pull a needle out, there can be a drop of blood and sometimes that drop does not come up through the surface,” he said. “Certain muscles or parts of the face have the potential to bruise more than others. Typically, I’ll wait until treatment number six to add those points in because it takes a while to get the circulation in the face to increase.”

The treatment, he continued, is an alternative to botox and filler: rather than giving a false sense of lift, like botox and filler do, aesthetic acupuncture can produce actual lift.

“For example, in the cheek area, where those muscles get weak, you don’t get wrinkles, you get folds,” said Croom. “In those areas of the face, they use filler to give a false lift. Here, we’re using the muscles to activate a lift, so filler’s not needed. Botox would be the opposite — it’s used on the muscles that get contracted. We’re now relaxing them.”

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