CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s been a little-known beauty secret to the stars for several years, but now it’s catching on across the country.

As CBS 2’s Susan Carlson reports, rather than undergoing painful and costly injections, more women are now turning to alternative Chinese medicine to try to look younger.

Like many women, Catherine Morris wanted to make some improvements to her appearance. She complains of “crow lines, smile lines; now that I have a 5-year-old, it’s the frown lines.”

The same complaints have many people turning to botox.

“”But for me, it’s a matter of, do I really want to be injecting a toxin into my skin?” Morris said.

So instead, Morris is trying cosmetic acupuncture.

What does it feel like?

“Sometimes you don’t feel much at all,” Morris said. “Other times, you feel just a little zing.”

Licensed acupuncturist Dana Hoffman explained how the process works.

“By stimulating established acupuncture points in the face, will produce more collagen and more elastin.
It also, because it increases blood flow to the face, will add better coloring,” she said.

Hoffman said the number of her patients requesting the procedure at Lake Shore Acupuncture, 1460 N. Halsted St., has about doubled in the past year.

“After the first treatment, they will feel that they have tighter skin,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman says the procedure can be used to treat wrinkles, dark circles, and even sagging skin.

And she has an answer for skeptics who might say acupuncture is being called a cure-all for everything.

“It’s a more subtle way to do things,” she said. “It’s not the way a facelift would be.”

A set of before-and-after pictures on the clinic Web site show dramatic improvement. Hoffman says it usually takes about 10 sessions, but even after just three treatments, Morris has noticed a change.

“I look more refreshed. My husband’s noticed,” Morris said. “I’m excited. I can’t wait ’til I’ve had 10 sessions to see what I look like at the end of it.”

At Lake Shore Acupuncture, it costs $1,200 for 10 sessions. Afterward, maintenance is recommended about three to four times a year.

The procedure is not recommended for smokers, women who are pregnant, or those with serious medical issues.