There is a great deal of controversy over what cupping marks are…or are not. It would seem that much of the controversy stems from what 'kind' of practitioner you are speaking to and what their education base consists of.
In some Arabic cultures, Cupping is known as Hijama and it is a popular practice all over the world, especially in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Europe.. In the Western world it is commonly referred to as Wet Cupping or sometimes referred to as Bleeding Cupping. Derived from the Arabic word “Hajm” which means “sucking”, Hijama wet cupping involves the creating of suction and negative pressure with cups and then making small, shallow incisions in the skin surface to draw out stagnated blood and toxins from the body. The cups are applied to specific parts of the body, such as affected areas, muscles and organs to circulate blood, reduce stagnation, reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Hijama Cupping Therapy is a preventative therapy to stay healthy, as well as a curative treatment to get better from a sickness by increasing the production of red and white blood cells, boosting the immune system and eliminating harmful toxins from the body. (https://hijamanation.com/hijama-infographic/) Wet Cupping is a form of bloodletting and is used to remove stagnant blood, expel heat, and provide pain relief.
In understanding that Hijama or Wet Cupping is a process by which stagnated blood and toxins are removed from the body, this helps to explain why numerous practitioners have the belief that the marks left after a Cupping session are indications that the stagnation or disease has been moved from the deeper tissue layers to the surface.
There are some practitioners who believe that the darker Cupping marks are indications that the treatment 'worked'...however, there are many people who do not have marks following a treatment while others have marks that resemble bruises. There are still yet other practitioners who believe that the marks left after a treatment are bruises - however, a bruise typically results from tissue damage and broken blood vessels due to impact trauma. It usually hurts when you touch a bruise - it doesn't usually hurt when you touch a Cupping mark.
It may also be that the darkness of the mark may be a result of the amount of suction used during Cupping. A research study completed in 2005/2006 further outlined that simulations indicated that the magnitude of the applied vacuum may have direct implications for the severity of bruising of the skin following cupping treatment. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16126216/)
So is the mark a bruise or not? Does Cupping remove toxins and stagnation from the body or not? I guess it really depends on who you talk to and what KIND of Cupping treatment you have had performed...we don't believe that there is any one definitive answer to this question and yet there are very likely several correct answers.
Here's what we do know...
The marks are caused by the suction of the cup and the increased amount of blood flow in the area. Cupping marks typically do not cause pain and if there is any discomfort it is minimal and usually goes away quickly. What you DO need to know is that Cupping marks are completely normal and quite common. Depending on the individual person and the area being treated, the marks may disappear in a few minutes or they may take as long as a few days to completely disappear. We recommend that you consult with a medical professional if you have concerns about the marks.
Remember....The goal of Cupping is to mobilize blood flow to promote healing NOT to leave marks.