FACIAL acupuncture is shaping up as a novel way to beat the ageing process.

Having an expert put needles into your face to erase fine lines and wrinkles is becoming increasingly popular – and proving to be a natural alternative to Botox.

The treatment has just been given a huge publicity boost after TV celebrity Lisa Snowdon posted pictures on social media of her having a treatment.

In images she shared with her 186,000 followers on instagram, she is lying in a treatment room with scores of tiny needles sticking out of her face.

York Press:

TREATMENT: TV celebrity Lisa Snowdon undergoing facial acupuncture

And she swears by the results. Under her latest photo she writes: "I so needed this. I have now progressed to 200 needles. This is a much-needed MOT for my body mind and soul."

She says she had the treatment to help her overcome jet lag and the excesses of a trip to the USA, but also to deal with hormonal issues. She loves the results: "This treatment also helps to lift and tone the muscles in the face, what's not to love?"

Errol Lynch can answer that. He is an acupuncturist and expert in Chinese Tuina massage who runs a clinic in St Saviour's Place, York. He has several clients in York who come to him for facial acupuncture – women and men. Most come to treat fine lines and wrinkles, but – like Lisa – can gain other health benefits from acupuncture.

Errol is one of several practitioners in York offering the service.

Errol says: "Acupuncture is better than Botox. Where Botox paralyses the muscles so that your lines go away, acupuncture encourages a better blood supply to the face and regenerates the tissue – and it's a natural process."

It works, says Errol, because the tiny needles actually damage the muscle, cueing the body to heal itself by making new tissue. In the process of increasing blood flow to the area, it also boosts levels of collagen, which leaves skin looking more plump and youthful.

Errol, aged, 53, has had the treatment several times and says it is not necessarily a painful procedure.

Lisa Snowdon vouches for that: "For those who ask if it hurts, it really doesn't."

Errol says: "Sometimes it might feel like a mosquito bite and it can depend on the size of the needle and the skill of the practitioner. The thinner the needle, the less painful it is."

He says the best results come after four or six weekly treatments, and the effects can last for months.

"It is safe, but in certain areas you might get a haematoma by nipping a blood vessel, which can last for a couple of days."

And he says it beats the side effects of Botox. "You don't smile or frown with Botox, which can lead to headaches. With acupuncture, you can still smile, joke and move your muscles – plus you are not injecting something into your skin."

Another benefit of the treatment, says Errol, is that the acupuncturist can also treat you for other health concerns at the same time. "They can put needles in other parts of the body to promote the general health of the patient."

At Errol's Touch Tuina Centre, treatment costs £60 per session and lasts an hour.

Patients are coming back, he says. "They are looking younger."

Kevin Durjun, from the British Acupuncture Council, echoes Errol's comments. He says: “Facial acupuncture is growing in popularity across the UK as more and more women are beginning to move away from invasive treatments such as Botox and surgery and turning instead to more gentle and natural alternatives."

He said during a cosmetic or facial acupuncture treatment you could expect to have several sterile, slimline acupuncture needles gently inserted into the skin. All of the needles are only used one time. The acupuncture practitioner would focus on areas that might need special attention such as areas of skin that have lost elasticity, that have lost radiance, or where fine lines are beginning to appear.

He added that acupuncture had been around for thousands of years and, although relatively new to the West, the Chinese had been using points on the face to combat the signs of ageing and to help with various skin conditions for many years.