Pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts… whatever the variant, acne is definitely the bane of every teenager (except maybe a lucky few). And sometimes, they continue to plague you well into adulthood, or leave acne scars that seem to last forever.
Despite what you see on mass media and Instagram, acne is totally normal and in most cases fade with time. However, if your acne (or acne scarring) bothers you a lot, here’s a guide to where you can seek acne treatment and acne scar removal in Singapore, and how you can budget for them.
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Should you use acne cream or go to the skin clinic?
Before you make an appointment at a clinic, you may want to try over-the-counter acne creams to see if you can keep the situation in check.
Acne creams (a.k.a. pimple cream, also available as stick-on dots) typically have some sort of active ingredient to kill bacteria, like tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide. To treat blackheads and whiteheads, look for creams with some kind of acid – salicylic, glycolic or lactic acid – which will exfoliate the skin gently.
Here are some well-known over-the-counter acne creams/treatments and how much they cost in Singapore:
|Benzac AC 2.5%||
The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil
|The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil||
$19.90 from The Body Shop
|Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots||
$30 for 72 dots from Sephora
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo
|$31.12 to $34.30 from Guardian/Watsons|
Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Spot Treatment
|$40 from Kiehl’s|
However, if you have severe acne that just doesn't seem to go away, you may want to get treated at a skin clinic. Your prescibed treatment may be a combination of the following:
- Topical medication (acne cream to apply on your face)
- Oral medication (pills to keep your acne in check)
- Other therapies (say facials for blackhead and whitehead extraction, chemical peel, laser or photo therapy)
What about acne scarring? What treatments are there?
If your acne has already subsided and you find yourself left with scars – typically bumps or dimples – you might be seeking a rather different set of treatments. Here are some common acne scarring treatments offered in Singapore skin clinics.
Laser treatment: A non-surgical procedure, in which your skin is exposed to laser beams that deliver high amounts of energy. This heats up the skin and removes the outer layers of damaged skin, and stimulates regeneration.
Radiofrequency microneedling: This is similar to laser treatment, except that insulated microscopic needles and radiofrequency are used instead of lasers. These direct the energy to more specific spots, reducing the risk of damage. These are typically offered under brand names like Venus Viva and Infini.
Chemical peels: Sounds gross, but it’s just an acid solution that’s applied to the skin to slough off the outermost layer. Remember how we said creams with salicylic acid help exfoliate the skin? Think of chemical peels as an amped-up version of that. Depending on the solution used, it may be sold under a certain brand name like TCA Cross, or just as a generic chemical peel. (These 10 gentle, brightening facial feels are great for brides with sensitive skin)
Subcision: This is a surgical procedure for bumpy skin with depressed scars. A special needle is inserted to break down the scar tissue, elevating the scar up to skin level.
Punch excision/grafting: This one is sort of a “cut & paste” method. A tiny tool not unlike a cookie cutter cuts out the scar. Then a small plug of skin, usually taken from behind the ear, is used to cover up the void. The graft is held in place with sutures, steri-strips, or a special surgical skin glue.
Dermal fillers: Not specifically an acne scar treatment, but often offered by skin clinics to plump up the skin and make it look younger and smoother. In the procedure, a protein known as hyaluronic gel is injected beneath the surface of the skin. It’s sometimes marketed under brand names like Restylane and Juvederm.
National Skin Centre
National Skin Centre is Singapore’s public dermatological centre. In 2009, they added the Acne Clinic to their list of subspecialty clinics. Patients seen by the general clinic who require further treatment can come here for specialised help.
Appointment is by referral from polyclinic. If you walk in, you are not entitled to subsidies – AND you have to pay an extra $10 on top of the consultation fee.
However, if you do get an appointment, the good thing is that treatment is subsidised if you’re a Singaporean or PR. The treatment is pretty rudimentary, though, and comprises mainly medication to keep the acne in check.
Acne scarring treatment is available too, but it has to be done in their non-subsidised clinic:
|Consultation||$36 to $54 (after subsidies for citizens and PRs)|
|Medication||$100 on average|
|Acne scar treatment||Upon consultation|
Niks Maple Clinic
Run by dermatologists and aesthetic doctors, Niks Maple Clinic is a very well-known skin clinic with 3 outlets in Singapore.
If you’re not happy with just oral medication, they offer acne and acne scar treatments like laser/radio frequency treatments, IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments, chemical peels, subcision and dermal fillers.
Apart from treatments, they also have 200 of their own skincare products under the Niks brand.
Here’s how much you can expect to spend at Niks Maple Clinic:
|Consultation||$25 to $40|
|IPL treatment||$300 to $700|
|Laser/radio frequency treatment||$450 to $1000|
|Dermal fillers||$800 onwards|
APAX Medical Aesthetic Clinic
APAX Medical Aesthetic Clinic specialises in advance acne care, cosmetic dermatology and skin surgery. It’s run by Dr Moses Ng who’s won a slew of awards and qualifications in that area. APAX has 3 acne treatment programmes depending on the severity of your acne.
- Acne Free Program: Non-invasive treatment involving a microdermabrasion facial called Hydra Plus + laser treatment.
- Acne Laser Program: Combination of different types of laser treatments for those with more serious acne problems.
- Acne Scar Revision Program: A combination of chemical peels such as TCA Cross, subcision, lasers and radiofrequency microneedling for those with more persistent acne problems.
The clinic also has oral medication in the form of oral isotretinoin (Accutane).
Here are the a la carte prices of the treatments, but usually these will be prescribed in combination.
|Acne treatment with topical and/or oral medication||$80 onwards|
|Hydra Plus Facial||$180 onwards|
|Advanced laser acne treatment e.g. carbon peel laser||$259|
|Laser pigment removal e.g. acne marks||$279|
|Chemical peel||$300 onwards|
The Clifford Clinic
Run by two doctors, Dr Gerard Ee and Dr Chow Yuen Ho, The Clifford Clinic is an aesthetics clinic that’s been around for 15 years. It offers both acne/scar treatments as well as high end skincare products.
While they offer the usual range of treatments like oral medication (Doxycycline and Roaccutane), laser treatments and chemical peels, they specialise in more cutting-edge (read: pricey) medical technologies to treat acne.
For instance, The Clifford Clinic‘s award-winning Hydrafacial uses vortex suction to cleanse and exfoliate skin.
They’re also the first to bring in selective follicle treatment (called “Agnes”) which is one of the latest treatments for acne. It’s something like radiofrequency microneedling, but instead of targeting the skin it targets the sebaceous glands that cause the acne.
|Medication||$20 to $60/month|
|Facial||$200 to $280|
|Deep chemical peel||$300 onwards|
|Laser treatment||$350 to $650|
|Selective follicle treatment (Agnes)||$1,000 to $1,500|
|Radiofrequency microneedling (Infini)||$2,550|
Prive Aesthestics is an awarding winning aesthetics centre offering treatments for skin, face, body and hair. The main focus here is on laser treatment, but they also have other high-tech treatments that they call “Facetherapies”.
Crystal Clear Facetherapy: Treatment is carried out with an FDA-approved machine that uses phototherapy to kill acne-causing bacteria.
Luminous Glow Facetherapy: IPL (intense pulsed light) is used to destroy the acne bacteria, and shrink sebaceous glands and pore size.
Omega Light Purifying Facetherapy: Different-coloured LED lights are used to treat acne scars.
Radiance Peel Facetherapy: A gentle chemical peel to improve the overall texture of the skin.
Viva Smooth: A “skin resurfacing treatment” which uses radiofrequency technology.
|Facetherapies||$88 to $330|
|Fotona 4D Laser||$428 to $1,288|
|Viva Smooth||$500/trial or $2,200/6 sessions|
|Laser treatment||$800 to $1,200/session or $3,000/3 sessions|
Established in 2005, Dermatology Associates is the largest independent dermatology specialist group in the private sector in Singapore. They have 4 dermatologists, 3 clinics and a comprehensive range of lasers and light equipment.
Treatments here include the usual chemical peels, microdermabrasion, acne phototherapy, laser treatment as well as scar subcision.
|Chemical peel||$280/session or$1,400/6 sessions|
|OIther treatments||Upon consultation|
The Dermatology Practice
Run by 4 dermatologists, each with nearly 20 years’ experience, the 2 clinics under The Dermatology Practice focuses on skin, hair, allergies and laser dermatology.
Apart from laser treatments and chemical peels, they also offer spot acid treatment (rather than peeling your entire face) and injections for tough, stubborn keloidal scars.
|TCA spot/ Cross treatment||$200 to $300|
|Hydrafacials||$350/session or $1,500/6 sessions|
|Chemical peels||$1,080/6 sessions|
This article was originally published on MoneySmart.