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“Aesthetic treatments are very foreign to me and I find them very intimidating – especially as my pain threshold is quite low (a normal facial extraction is the most I can tolerate). Anything that requires a needle is out of the question.” – Sheryl Tay, 25, marketing executive

Dr Karen Soh, medical director of Prive Clinic, wants aesthetics newbies to know that pain, such as the pinching sensation that comes with botulinum toxin injections, can be “easily managed with painkillers, numbing cream and painkiller injections”.

It is also the doctor’s duty to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible during treatments, says Dr Angela Hwee, lead doctor of DRx Group. The Intensive Rejuvenation Program (which treats large pores and fine lines) offered at DRx Clinic sounds painful as it involves microneedles, she says, but is actually painless after numbing cream is applied. “There is no pain… just a few minutes of redness,” says Dr Hwee.

How much pain you feel during treatment also depends on the doctor’s technique. For example, Dr Soh says that getting botulinum toxin injections done at Prive Clinic is less painful as the toxin is specially reconstituted from its original form to match the body’s pH level.

The type of machines used matters too. Take Hifu (high-intensity focused ultrasound), for instance. The skin-lifting treatment is known to be painful, but the Hifu machine that aesthetics centre Estheclinic uses, developed by its parent company in France, is said to offer a painless experience. “All our processes are developed by doctors, and treatments are painless and non-invasive, with little downtime,” says Manon Allano, managing director of Estheclinic Singapore.



“My first concern with any type of aesthetic treatment is whether the treatment will backfire in the long term and make the issue worse as time goes by. Like lasers – I’m afraid that my skin will not recover following the downtime, or may become more sensitive.” – Angena Teo, 38, senior dietitian

It’s a popular misconception that lasers “thin the skin”, says Dr Hoe Ying Min, resident doctor at Scinn Medical Centre. It’s untrue, she says. “In fact, lasers help build new collagen and strengthen the skin barrier, so you get better skin in the long run.”

That said, it’s also important to understand why some laser treatments come with downtime, says Dr Calvin Chan, medical director of Calvin Chan Aesthetic and Laser Clinic. “Lasers work by inflicting controlled damage to the skin, to kick-start healing so skin eventually looks better than before, with improved tone and texture.”

So, a laser that is more aggressive on the skin may result in longer downtime (like redness and peeling), Dr Chan adds, but is also generally more effective. That’s why these are mostly used in treating more serious concerns, like pitted acne scars. Your doctor should be able to advise you on the most effective treatments based on your concerns, he says.  



“I feel that exposing my skin to such treatments will cause it to get hooked on them – such as constantly relying on botulinum toxin to retain skin elasticity. And when that happens, I’m afraid I’ll end up looking drastically different and unnatural. I’ve seen a lot of celebrities looking ‘frozen’ in their pictures and I don’t want that.” – Jaslyn Lim, 25, analyst

Most people have the misconception that botulinum toxin treatments would make them look fake or frozen, says Dr Hoe. “In the good hands of an experienced and skilled physician, people should think that your face looks better – like you’ve just returned from a relaxing holiday – and not be able to tell that you had botox done,” she says.

It’s the same for filler injections. Dr Hoe had a patient who had fillers done for her dark under-eye circles, and said her friends told her the results were as if she finally had really good rest.

The concern about getting “hooked” on aesthetic treatments is also a common one, says Dr Phoon Yi Shan, medical director  at David Loh Surgery. “None of the products used, or the treatments I do, have any physiological addictive properties,” she says. “When patients come back, it’s simply because they love their look.” That said, Dr Phoon believes that balance and moderation are key. A responsible doctor should not “over-treat” patients or make them look unnaturally disproportionate. “Patients should emerge looking like the best version of themselves,” she says. 



“I consider aesthetic treatments a luxury. Once I start, I’ll need to constantly return for maintenance. I’ll have to spend money on a regular basis to do so, and I’m not sure if this is something I can keep up with.” – Phyllis Lim, 23, undergraduate

“This is where many women get it wrong,” says Dr Low Chai Ling, founder and medical director of SW1 Clinic. “When we use effective and proven solutions to nip a problem in its bud, we not only produce better results for skin concerns – we’re also helping our patients save money in the long run.”

For example, Dr Low says many patients often treat dark eye circles with all sorts of eye creams – to no avail. The combined cost of these creams – together with the cost of makeup used to conceal the condition – often adds up to more than the price of one session of SW1’s Revitalift – $900 for the under-eye area.  

Your doctor should be made aware of your needs too. At Ageless Medical and Ageless Medi-Aesthetics, founder and medical director Dr Lam Bee Lan says an initial consultation takes at least 30 minutes. “This allows me to plan an effective  treatment programme to give patients their desired result within a budget,” she says. 

This story first appeared in the October 2019 issue of Her World magazine.