What to Expect During Your Cupping Appointment

Cupping is quite literally an ancient technique used by many cultures throughout time to treat a vast variety of ailments. Cups themselves have evolved over time from metals, wood and even bone to more modern-day materials such as glass and plastics. While there is much utility to using plastic cups for many practitioners, I myself use glass cups. Fire cupping is a term used to describe the use of fire to deplete the oxygen from the interior of a glass cup, thus once placed on the skin, will create suction that draws the skin and underlying tissue up into the cup. This drawing action upon the tissues helps to relieve blood stagnation, separate facial layers of tissue and stimulate acupuncture points. Cups are predominantly applied to the back and neck, however, abdominal and extremity applications may be indicated for your condition.

The Process

  1. A massage or chiropractic table with fitted sheet and top sheet are used to dress the table. The top sheet will be used to cover areas of the body that are not being treated and to cover the body while cups are left in place. This keeps the tissues and the patient warm during treatment.
  2. The patient will be instructed to expose the back, neck and/or top of the buttocks (to their comfort level) and lay face down under the top sheet of the table. Treatments can always be modified for individual comfort.
  3. A massage oil (typically a calendula infused olive oil) is applied to the skin. This allows for skin comfort as the cups are applied, tissue is pulled into the cup, and while the cups are moved across the skin during cupping massage techniques. The application also allows for the skin to be warmed in preparation for the cup application. Alternative oil is available for sensitive skin or individuals allergic to the daisy family.
  4. A cotton ball is secured using locking type forceps. These are metal surgical tools used to hold the cotton ball and have a locking feature to prevent dropping the ball during treatment.
  5. The cotton ball is soaked in 70-90% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and lit using a match or lighter. While you may feel the warmth of the fire throughout treatment, the proximity of the lit cotton ball remains far from the patient and the patient’s skin.
  6. The lit cotton ball is then inserted into the cup to remove oxygen, then immediately placed on the skin. You may feel the coolness of the cup and drawing sensation of the skin. Cups may be rotated out during treatment to prevent overheating of the cups. This is particularly useful when using the flash cupping technique.
  7. The cup may be moved slightly forplacement at this time, or a small amount of air may be released by pressing on the skin next to the cup, should the drawing pressure be unpleasant for the patient. Everything can be modified to your comfort level.
  8. The cup is then either: removed then reapplied immediately, left in place for a period of time (flash cupping), or moved along facial and muscular planes in a massage technique.
  9. After treatment the cups are removed, and any excess oil removed with a towel.
  10. The practitioner at this time will advise you to take your time off the table and dress. When ready crack the door to the treatment room.
  11. Water will be offered, and aftercare reminders discussed.

What to Wear

You may wear any clothing that you like! Keep in mind what will be most comfortable to dress down for while on the table. Also keep in mind the application of oil to the body may stain clothing. Also bring a scarf, cowl, or other neck covering to leave the clinic with. This treatment activates acupuncture points, moves chi, blood and lymph and the body may be vulnerable to temperature changes. YES, bring a neck covering even if its 90 out!


  1. Neck covering for a few hours after treatment.
  2. Plenty of water.
  3. Rest/nap/sleep if your body calls you to it.
  4. Avoid sauna, bath or hot shower for 4 hours after treatment.
  5. If your skin becomes sore, a topical arnica cream may be applied to the skin for relief.
  6. Cupping can leave bruise like marks on the skin that typically resolve within a week.

We will check in with you throughout treatment. You have complete autonomy over your treatment. At times you may feel some discomfort, however, you should not feel pain at any time during your treatment. Everything is modifiable so that this is an enjoyable and therapeutic treatment regardless of any modifications we make.