Board of Medicine

Board Position on Ear Stapling

Approved by the Iowa Board on February 8, 2007

This policy statement is not a legally binding opinion of the board, but is only intended to provide guidance to the public. The board may make formal policy only through administrative rules, declaratory orders or contested case decisions.

Ear stapling is the placement of a stainless steel staple at a reflex point in the inner cartilage of the ear for the purpose of weight loss, smoking cessation, stress management and other problems. Ear stapling is an improper practice of acupuncture. Proper acupuncture practice uses sterile, disposable acupuncture needles at a level in the skin that is less invasive than ear staples, which have a higher chance of infection. Additionally, effective acupuncture treatments require needle placement in more than one location.

To practice acupuncture in Iowa one must be licensed by the Iowa Board of Medicine. Those individuals exempt from the acupuncture licensing requirement include medical doctors (M.D.s), osteopathic physicians (D.O.s), podiatrists, chiropractors, and dentists, as specified in the Iowa Code section 148E.3.

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