What to Expect at Your First Acupuncture Appointment

I’ve always been a bit hesitant about acupuncture. My mom loves it and swears by it as the best kind of doctor for everything. I’ve never liked needles so the idea of purposely getting stuck with a bunch of them and then just sitting there sounded terrible. But slowly curiosity took over and I started to come around.

The next hold up was money. I certainly didn’t want to pay someone to stick me with needles. But after carefully looking at my company health plan, I realized that I am entitled to 24 acupuncture appointments every year for just $15 each! So I decided to give it a try and am happy to report that I had a wonderfully positive experience and even decided to go back!

Eating Before?

One of my biggest questions going in was, should I eat before? My first appointment was scheduled for first thing in the morning before work so I needed a breakfast plan. I extensively googled it and generally, everyone agreed that eating before was a good idea, not too much and not too close to the appointment but having something in your system is a good idea. I ate a light snack when I first got up and that worked well for me.

Over the course of the next few appointments, my schedule varied a bit and I ended up going a few times without eating anything and had no issues. The more important thing for me was to drink water before and after. Acupuncture made me thirsty, especially first thing in the morning. My acupuncturist highly recommended drinking room temp water without ice.

What to Wear

My first appointment was last fall, it’s always fairly pleasant in LA but I happened to be wearing a dress that day because the weather was especially nice. I am not sure if it was because of what they were targeting or what I was wearing or a combination, but they stuck most of my needles in my legs. Knowing that I wore a dress for my next appointment too. And then the weather started to change and get colder.

By around my 5th appointment, it was way too cold outside to want to wear a dress. I decided to go with very loose fitting pants that could be rolled up to my knees and a tank top/loose sweater. This ended up being perfect and on that appointment, I actually got a few needles in my tummy area.


I recommend layers for sure. You don’t know where they’d like to target so being flexible is good. Also, the room was often a little cold for me but they have heat lamps and heating pads. They also came in often to check on me and my temperature so it was easy to adjust throughout the appointment.

Forms and The Consultation

When I arrived on my first day, I filled out the typical doctor forms and also answered questions about what I wanted them to target. They also asked a few questions in person, took my pulse and looked at my tongue.

For later appointments, they always re-caped what we’d been working on and asked if I had anything new. Before my trip to Italy, I let them know I’d be flying internationally and they specifically targeted immunity that week.

The Needles

As I mentioned in the intro, I am not someone that is at all comfortable with needles. Even as an “adult” I still look away whenever I get a shot.

But now having tried it, I can honestly say, you barely feel the acupuncture needles and they go in and I don’t feel them at all once they are in. For the first appointment, I only had 6 needles put in and they were extra gentle since it was my first time. For later appointments, I could feel it a bit more but they always checked in with me and if something didn’t feel right, they’d adjust right away.

Most of the needles were placed in my legs and arms. I have gotten a few in my feet and hands, those you feel a little more. And I have even had one on the top of my head and behind my ear. As the appointments go on, I got more and more comfortable with it and they started to do more needles per session and switch up where they were placed.

The needles themselves are single-use, sterile, stainless-steel needles. They are very small.

The Meditation

Once the needles are in, you lay still and wait for them to do their job. The first time I was there for just 15 – 20 minutes but in later appointments a bit longer. My mom goes in for 2-hour appointments and loves it. I think you build up to it.

As my appointments went on this meditation part started to feel just as important for my well-being as the needles. I think it’s good to take the silent time to yourself without distractions.

Taking the Needles Out

This is a very quick, easy and painless process. The one thing that I really appreciate is that they are very conscious of how many needles you have in. They count them as they place them and then again as they take them out.

The first appointment I thought maybe they had put one in the bottom of my foot and couldn’t remember (you really can’t feel them once they are in!). So I had a few worries like “what if there is a fire and I need to run out of here but there is a needle in the bottom of my foot?!”. It was a silly thing to worry about in my meditation but I started to pay more attention to where they put them in future appointments.

The Results

Since I was mostly going in for general health, it’s hard to say for sure if I have had great results. That being said, some of the things that they did work on for me had immediate results. I am sure a bit of it is in my head, but for now, I’m a believer. I’d certainly rather go to acupuncture for a health issue that arises in my future than to take a medication. I’m glad I tried it. I was scared for no reason and it felt good to try something that I was hesitant about but ended up really enjoying.

Have you tried acupuncture, what did you think? Let us know in the comments!


  1. This made for interesting reading as I know what acupuncture basically is, but not really how the sessions go. I’ve never been, and can’t say I’m toooooo keen on the idea. I’m not overly squeamish with needles, but it’s not an appealing thought either. I guess I’ve also been quite sceptical over its benefits, though it’ll be one of those things that everyone experiences differently. I’m glad they were good with you, like being extra gentle on your first appointment. I do think the idea of resting there after it’s been done and meditating and being mindful and calm sounds pretty tempting, so I can see why your mum likes her 2hr appointments. Thanks for sharing your experiences! =]
    Caz xx

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