Let’s face it, most of us have at least one beauty woe. Fortunately, there’s a growing arsenal of high-tech weaponry out there to choose from. During a strategic recce around the office, VERNE MAREE identified the skin enemies of eight gung-ho Expat Living troops, and set about matching them with the appropriate choice of weapon – from Botox and fillers to IPL, laser and ultrasound. And all in the line of duty!
ENEMY #1 – Adult Acne
Acne isn’t just a teenage bane – it’s a largely hormonal skin disorder that can plague men and women of any age. Singapore’s sweaty climate doesn’t help, either.
Operative: Rachael Wheeler
Weapon of Choice: Spectra Peel
Target: The whole face – a total onslaught.
This hour-long procedure uses a photothermal effect along with photochemical peeling to control the inflammation of spots. It helps with the production of spots, big greedy pores, acne scars and skin discolouration.
After cleansing, a numbing cream is applied and left for 20 minutes. It’s not heavy duty in a dribbling sense, just a bit tingly. Spectra lotion is applied across my face; it’s essentially a thin layer of black carbon.
Dr Ng activates the powerful laser to slowly release energy into the lotion. This warms the deep tissue to stimulate collagen production, even out skin tone and regenerate skin cells. It’s comfortable, and takes just a few minutes.
Changing the laser to a different mode removes the Spectra lotion and gives the skin a thorough cleaning: in reaction to the laser, the carbon fragments, whipping out the dirt as it vaporises. This deals with active spots, promoting healing and re-growth of skin cells. Plus, it shrinks up the pores and discourages future acne. This is less comfortable, but bearable as it only takes a few minutes.
Finally, a 20-minute session of LED phototherapy uses light to enhance cell repair, increase blood-flow and soothe any redness following the laser.
Barely any – this could be a lunchtime skirmish.
The treatment dealt with any spots I had, zapping them and leaving me with lovely clear skin for a few days. However, Dr Ng warns that the cleaning process can lead to further breakouts as the dirt leaves the system, and I’m suffering from a few red crackers as I type this. Booking the Spectra Peel every few weeks is the best way to keep acne under control.
Acne Spectra Peel plus LED Phototherapy is $550.
Dr Christopher Ng Chee Mun
GynaeMD Women’s & Rejuvenation Clinic
#04-03A, Camden Medical Centre
ENEMY #2 – Facial hair
Whether it’s a light smattering of hair on the upper lip, or darker hairs that become more noticeable (and often increase) with age, facial hair is an ongoing battle for many women.
Operative: Amy Brook-Partridge
Weapon of Choice: Lumenis OPT (Optimal Pulse Technology).
Target: Upper lip and chin.
Lumenis OPT uses light pulses controlled and customised according to skin type and treatment, and can fight against a range of conditions, including discolouration, broken capillaries and the dreaded facial hair.
After the initial consultation, Dr Anita Soosay cleanses the target area and applies a cool gel to assist the pulses of light. She explains that the light from the device can be bright, and she places two pieces of cotton wool to protect my eyes.
“Patients sometimes experience what feels like a rubber band snapping against the skin,” Dr Soosay tells me. Prepped for a small amount of pain, the treatment was initially barely noticeable, as it moved around the upper lip and chin. Only towards the end of the 10- to 15-minute treatment, as the intensity increased, did it feel slightly uncomfortable.
Slight redness and swelling that receded within 30 minutes.
Dr Soosay recommends a minimum of four sessions to see real results. That’s because the life cycle of each hair, from baby to adult, is between four and six weeks, so what one session misses, the next should successfully target. No plucking in between, but snipping or shaving is fine.
Upper lip and chin together is $275 per session.
Dr Anita Soosay
The Aesthetics Centre
1 Kim Seng Promenade, #03-15 Great World City
ENEMY # 3 – Patchy Pigmentation
Hormones from the contraceptive pill and sun exposure can cause pigment cells (melanocytes) to overproduce melanin, resulting in uneven pigmentation.
Operative: Harriet Empey
Weapon of Choice: Sciton Broadband Light (BBL)
This is the most advanced version of intense pulsed light (IPL) technology. A non-invasive treatment, it uses light energy to stimulate the skin cells to produce new collagen and correct a number of skin conditions including pigmentation (melasma, age spots), small blood vessels, acne, rosacea and unwanted hair.
Target: Cheeks and forehead.
After my face has been cleansed, Dr Eileen Lew uses a Visia machine to analyse my complexion. It shows all my pigmentation (both superficial and deep), fine lines and scarring, so she knows exactly which areas to focus on.
Angela, the assistant, applies numbing cream and then removes it after 20 minutes, before putting eye pads and goggles on me. She applies a cooling gel while Dr Eileen zaps my pigmented areas twice with the BBL machine. Each bright burst of light is followed by a tiny sting that is very bearable.
Afterwards, a cooling gel is applied, followed by high-SPF sun block. Then I’m sent off with instructions to stay out of the sun for a week, to use SPF 30 sunscreen and to avoid scratching my face.
A stinging feeling for about 30 minutes afterwards. Certain darker pigmentation spots, which have been treated with a slightly stronger beam, are a bit red for a few hours (but makeup can be worn straightaway). Over the next week, they go darker and then flake off unnoticeably.
Much of the lighter pigmentation and some of the darker spots disappear completely. For best results, three or four BBL treatments are recommended, with an annual treatment to keep pigmentation at bay.
$450 for a single treatment; $1,450 for a package of four treatments.
LE Privaté Clinic
Scotts Medical Centre
9 Scotts Road, #08-04 Pacific Plaza
6733 5755 |
ENEMY #4 – Blocked Pores
Living in the sweaty sauna that is Singapore can play havoc with your pores, enlarging them and blocking them up.
Operative: Natalie Whittell
Weapon of Choice: Laser Genesis
This is a non-invasive laser technology that safely, discreetly and effectively treats large pores, uneven skin texture, scars, fine lines and wrinkles, also diffusing redness. By heating the upper dermis – that’s the layer below the skin surface – it reduces pore size through collagen stimulation.
Target: T-zone and cheeks.
Dr Sylvia Ramirez takes time to get to know me and my skin during a thorough consultation, which also sets me at ease. Her skin analysis is great, especially for a laser first-timer like me.
After a step-by-step explanation of the procedure, my face is cleansed and prepared. With eye-shields in place, I find myself bracing ahead of the “switch on”, but I’m pleasantly surprised to discover it feels like a gentle, warming beam brushing over the skin.
My skin feels a little hot in patches and there’s just a hint of an unpleasant burning smell, but I’m told that’s quite normal. After a therapeutic and relaxing half-hour, I’m done and dusted.
Almost none! Slight redness immediately after the procedure, but once I’ve been treated to a quick Glominerals makeover at the clinic, I look ready to hit the town – or rather, in my case, the office.
Subtly improved and creamier skin tone, plus a slight decrease in pore size. Given a course of four or five treatments, I would be applying for MAC foundation adverts in no time. I also appreciated the lovely follow-up call the next day – how thoughtful!
A single treatment is $550; a course of the recommended 5 treatments is $2,250.
Cutis Medical Laser Clinics
9 Scotts Road #08-07 Pacific Plaza 228210 Singapore
ENEMY #5 – Sun Damage
In our carefree college years, it can be all about having fun in the sun and trying to achieve bronzed perfection. Then you hit your mid-twenties, and your mother’s nagging predictions start to come true – the first fine lines start to appear and the sunspots take centre stage.
Operative: Leanda Rathmell
Target: Freckle-speckled cheeks and fine lines on the forehead and around the eyes.
Weapons of Choice: Q-switched Nd:YAG laser and KTP long-pulsed laser.
Q-switched Nd:YAG laser uses longer wave lengths to target deeper layers of the skin, reducing pore size and blitzing pigment particles for a brightened complexion. The heat-producing energy from the long pulses also stimulates the skin’s self-regenerative abilities and the production of collagen to combat fine lines. For the freckles, KTP long-pulsed laser utilises shorter wavelengths to focus on the surface layers of the skin.
The face is thoroughly cleansed and prepped for a quick zip and zap. The laser treatment is no more than 20 minutes of mild discomfort, followed by 10 minutes of time out with a cooling mask to allow the redness to subside. A layer of vitamin C serum and sunblock is delicately applied and I’m back on Orchard in no time.
The prickly zaps of the laser treatment cause me to flinch a couple of times, but that’s all. Afterwards, ironically, it feels like a bit of sunburn, simply relieved by turning the air-conditioner down a couple of notches for a few hours, or applying a cool flannel.
For the following two or three days, my freckles appear darker but gradually flake off to reveal a clear complexion that looks firmer and healthier.
$500 for single session, $2,100 for six sessions.
Alaxis Medical & Aesthetic Surgery
360 Orchard Road, #04-05 International Building
ENEMY #6 – Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Sometime during our 30s, fine lines start to develop as the collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin in the skin become less plentiful. Fine lines and wrinkles also naturally form because of smiling, frowning and other facial expressions, especially around the eyes, on the forehead and between our eyebrows. Environmental factors such as exposure to sunlight, smoking and stress also damage the skin and play a part.
Operative: Undercover Agent
Weapons of Choice: Botox and fillers.
Derived from a purified protein, Botox relaxes the specific facial muscles that form the wrinkles created when you make a facial expression: lines and wrinkles are smoothed because the muscles relax. Fillers, such as Juvederm, are comprised of hyaluronic acid, a substance that is produced naturally by the body to hydrate and add volume to our skin.
Target: Forehead, frown line between the eyes and smile lines around the mouth.
During a consultation, the cheerful Dr Mendis suggests what a filler together with Botox can achieve for my skin, and explains the procedures in simple terms.
His assistant applies to my face a topical anaesthetic that requires about 20 minutes to take effect. First, he performs the Botox procedure. Though my skin feels cold and numb, the assistant applies ice to it before he makes quick injections along the forehead, at the corner of eyes and between the eyes. This takes barely a few minutes, and I find the icing more uncomfortable than the pinpricks!
He explains that the filler, Juvederm, might be more uncomfortable, and again applies ice. I hardly feel the three pinpricks to each side of the upper lip and the one on the right side of the lower lip. By a quirk of nature, he says, it is not required on the left side.
Areas of slight redness disappear within an hour. I’m given anti-inflammatory medication and arnica, a bruise medication, to take over the next three days if needed. After Botox, you’re advised to not lie down for four hours. And after a filler, it is recommended to keep a straight face (no smiling) for several hours.
Result: The Juvederm filler gives a noticeable result within minutes: there’s an immediate lift and the smile line is miraculously diminished. Botox takes up to five days for the full effect to kick in. Dr Mendis schedules a follow-up appointment 10 days later to assess the results and give me a top-up if required.
Mendis Aesthetics and Surgery
333A Orchard Road, #04-17 Mandarin Gallery
ENEMY #7 – Blotches and Crinkles
Older skin loses its former elasticity and starts to crinkle. Fine, thin Caucasian skin is more vulnerable, and the delicate neck area is the first to be affected.
Operative: Rebecca Bisset
Weapon of Choice: Clinical Facial
A combination of deep ultrasonic cleansing, toning and lifting combined with iontophoresis (using micro-currents and ultrasound) to deliver the prescribed formulated cocktail into the deeper layers of the skin.
Target: Sun-damaged skin with clogged pores and a neck that is crinkly and dry.
Dr Yvonne Goh assesses the skin and then gives therapist, Jessie, directions based on the consultation. In my case, she feels my skin is dry, with red patches linked to broken veins that we will have to get sorted at some stage. The pigmentation is slight, but makes the skin look older and drier than it is and gives an uneven and patchy look.
Jessie starts off with a cleanser and then the dead skin is skimmed off my face and neck with a nifty little scraper powered with ultrasound technology. It feels really good and is much more productive than microdermabrasion or other exfoliating methods. Then, after a good steam, every pore on my face is cleansed one by one – a fairly pain-free and needle-less method of extracting blackheads.
A hydrating serum is helped into the skin with an ultrasound wand and we finish up with a custom-blended lightening mask that also hydrates.
The 90-minute treatment is completed with a lovely massage of my neck and back. I feel that all areas have been covered and I’m ready to face the world, rejuvenated. My face and most importantly my neck look a lot fresher and more hydrated.
$120 to $230
Dr Yvonne Goh Aesthetics
1 Orchard Boulevard, #09-05 Camden Medical Centre
ENEMY #8 – The Big Sag
Some time after the age of 40, waning collagen and the force of gravity conspire to loosen previously taut facial skin and drag it down into droopy folds. (Think Basset hound or Shar Pei.)
Operative: Verne Maree
Weapon of Choice: Ultherapy, the Ultrasound Lift
This non-invasive, focused treatment uses the body’s own natural regenerative response to gently and gradually restore its previous youthful contours. The ultrasound energy is directed at the SMAS layer of muscle, which is what a plastic surgeon would work on in the course of a surgical facelift. By heating the tissue, it stimulates the body’s own collagen response for lifting and tightening the skin.
Target: Forehead, cheeks and jaw-line.
My face is cleansed, and Dr Low gets straight to work. He doesn’t generally bother much with topical anaesthetic, anyway, and particularly not with Ultherapy; it wouldn’t help much for the deeper level of skin that the ultrasound treats.
The medical use of ultrasound is nothing new; you may have experienced its healing benefits at the physiotherapist’s rooms. And, as Dr Low reminds me, “We’ve all seen images of ultrasound scans of the pregnant womb, and that’s what’s so great about Ultherapy, too: while I’m working, I can actually see the underlying skin structures on this screen, and target them accurately and effectively.”
Much higher levels of ultrasound are applied here than at the physio’s or gynae’s, though, and I can’t help wincing and yelping a bit as he moves the applicator upwards from my jaw line, on my neck and finally above the brow line. But it doesn’t last for long, ten minutes tops, and after resting for a while with an icy gel to cool my skin, I’m good to go.
After the initial discomfort, almost zero. Areas of slight redness disappear within an hour or two.
Firmer, tighter, better-fitting skin – a subtle but significant effect. Just one treatment initiates the regenerative process, and the full effect builds gradually over two to three months.
Dr Valentin Low Aesthetic & Laser Clinic
290 Orchard Road, #08-03 Paragon Medical Suites
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