SAGGING skin, wrinkles, puffy eyes and frown lines are just some of the unwelcome effects of growing old.

But while most women wouldn't mind looking a few years younger, the prospect of letting a surgeon take a scalpel to their face is not appealing.

Not only is there the cost, pain, recovery time and scars to consider, but there is also the chance that surgery might go wrong and even prove fatal.

Going under the knife might be a disturbing thought, but for many, having unnatural toxins injected into the body through expensive botox treatments is even less enticing.

But there is one treatment that is 100 per cent natural and carries none of the risks of surgery.

Said to be the secret beauty weapon of A-list stars such as Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, facial rejuvenation acupuncture has been around in China for thousands of years, but has only really taken off in the last five years.

According to practitioners it can erase five to 15 years from the face by reducing under-eye bags, minimising double chins, smoothing wrinkles and frown lines and brightening the skin.

And now it is coming to York.

From the end of March, members of the public will be able to book a course of treatment at the Northern College of Acupuncture, in Micklegate, York. In a session lasting about 50 minutes, a therapist will insert hair-thin, sterile needles into particular acupuncture points on the face, ears, neck, hands, trunk and legs.

The points are chosen to manipulate the body's energy, boost circulation, help the lymphatic system drain away toxins and stimulate the production of collagen.

As a result, the skin will automatically tighten and become smoother in appearance - fine lines may be entirely erased, deeper lines reduced, and bags around the neck and eyes firmed.

A course of treatment usually consists of 12 twice-weekly sessions, followed by maintenance sessions that help to prolong the results for five to ten years.

Denise Magson, of Holgate, in York, tried the procedure during a training workshop held at the Northern College of Acupuncture this week.

She said: "Even though I only had one session, I definitely noticed a difference.

"Everybody has been saying how my skin is glowing and nobody ever comments on my skin.

"I've always had a thing about my frown line and I think the acupuncture really has made a difference there."

Denise, 44, said the treatment was not without discomfort, but also wasn't painful.

She said: "I would never consider anything like Botox because it makes my stomach churn when I think what they are injecting you with, but this is different.

"It's cheaper, it's completely natural and there are no risks involved - the only side effect that might not be so nice is a slightly swollen face."

Studies published in the International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture showed that of 300 test cases who received facial rejuvenation, 90 per cent showed results after one course of treatment.

For more information and prices, phone the Northern College of Acupuncture on 01904 343305.