As most of you know, I have struggled with acne for most of my adult life. One of my life’s goals is to have radiant flawless skin, so flawless, I don’t need to put on foundation. But unfortunately, due to hormones, endometriosis, stress and having to work under the sun, that goal seems almost impossible to reach.
Although I’m reaching my mid-30s, I still struggle with acne, just not as bad as before but all those years fighting the problem has caused ‘battle scars’ on my face in the form of pits and dark marks. To add to that, my skin has to tackle new issues now like sunspots, pigmentation and losing it’s elasticity due to aging! Facial creams can only do so much to care and maintain the health of your skin but it can’t take away those old ‘battle scars’ so I decided to seak for aesthetic laser treatment.
Aesthetics Central Clinic
Aesthetics Central Clinic, 8 Eu Tong Sen Street, The Central Office One, #11-90, Singapore 059818
Tel: +65 6221 8221
1000 – 2000 (Mon – Fri)
1000 – 1400 (Saturdays)
(Closed on Sundays)
I consulted Dr. Ryan Tan for the best treatment suitable for me. I explained to him about my skin concerns and asked so many questions as I was new to laser treatments but he was so patient and I felt like I was talking to a friend. I pictured the consultation would be intimidating but it was not like that at all! Dr. Ryan is in his 40s but he looks so young! Plus he use to be in a dragon boat team, you wouldn’t have guessed that looking at his porcelain clear skin, that made me have hope that my sun damaged skin can be rescued!
After listening to my concerns and analysing my skin, Dr. Ryan suggested I undergo the Intense Pulse Light (IPL), Radiofrequency (RF), Infrared (IR) Laser Treatment as he felt that my skin condition is actually not very serious, not in need of very intensive treatment and can be easily treated. I was really surprised and relieved at the same time.
What is Intense Pulse Light / Radiofrequency / Infrared Treatment?
This treatment is for the removal/reduction of Brown Spots, Age Spots, Scars, Lifting, Rosacea & Spider Veins. From what I understand, IPL uses a range of light wavelengths to treat the spots, radiofrequency uses electrodes (positive and negative poles) to cause the skin to heat up under the surface which is great for wrinkles, scars and pores, and infrared stimulates collagen for tighter skin.
What is the difference between IPL/RF/IR Treatment and CO2 Fraction?
IPL/RF/IR Treatment will not require you to take leave off work and has little to no down time. In fact, as Dr. Ryan mentioned, some office ladies will come in for treatment during lunch time and go back to the office as usual whereas, CO2 Fraction is more aggressive and will require you to hide from the sun and the world for a few weeks. I have also learned through research that CO2 Fraction may not be suitable for tanned/dark-skin individuals like myself as it may cause damage to our natural pigment and cause it to spread unevenly after CO2 hence could be one of the reasons why Dr. Ryan suggested IPL/RF/IR. The important thing you must remember after IPL/RF/IR treatment is that you MUST apply a UV Protector with at least SPF 30+++ every day, do not pick at the bumps/scabs and take the prescription given by the doctor.
How did you prepare for the treatment?
You not need to prepare for it per say just know that it isn’t exactly painless. You might feel some stinging as, unlike CO2, there will be no numbing gel applied before this treatment. You do however need to wash your face thoroughly before the treatment as Dr. Ryan explained the machine will make more noise and it will sting more on areas of your face that is oily. Also, its better if you can remove any facial piercing. I left my nose piercing on though because its nearly impossible to take it off but don’t expect that spot to be zapped as it will burn! Dr. Ryan avoided that part of my nose.
Is this treatment suitable for everyone?
Avoid this treatment if you are on Accutance, Photosensitizing medication or pregnant. If you are trying to conceive, you have to put your plans on hold as the medication given may cause complications.
Can you apply makeup, go out in the sun or exercise?
You can apply makeup, exercise or go on holiday. However, you will need to have a proper skincare regimen and if you already do, it’s really not much of a difference except to switch your cream to the one prescribed and take the medication. It is a must to apply sunblock everyday.
After the consultation, I was led back to the waiting room to read and sign the consent form and went to wash my face before the treatment. There is a cleanser that the clinic recommends and provides for you to use so you don’t have to bring your own cleanser. You may also use their vanity table to clean off your makeup.
Left: Sitting nervously before the treatment began.
After the seat was lowered, I had to put on goggles to protect my eyes from the rays of the treatment. Dr. Ryan informed me about how the procedure may feel on my skin and proceeded with the treatment. First, I felt these swift needle-like electrical zaps poking into my skin. Dr. Ryan tried to ease me by making small talks. There was also a certain smell that came from this process and Dr. Ryan said that it’s actually the oil in the pores being zapped! No wonder it smelt like fish keropok! That must be how oily my skin is…
After the needle-like zaps went all over my face, I felt like a mini-iron was gently pressed onto my skin and the keropok smell intensified. However, I thought this was more tolerable than the needle-like zaps. Throughout the procedure, Dr. Ryan checked to make sure I was doing okay and that I was comfortable with the pressure and heat. After the mini-iron had pressed all around my face, Dr. Ryan removed my goggles and informed me that the procedure was complete but I will need to come back for a few more treatments. Because the was redness just after the procedure, the clinic assistant applied a very cooling mask over my face and eyes which felt heavenly and left it on for 15mins before applying cream and sunblock.
All-in-all, it was a quick procedure and quite fuss-free, really suitable for a lunch-time fix. I only spent 1 and a half hours in the clinic for this session inclusive of consultation, the next session would be much faster. Can’t wait for it already!
Post Treatment Products
- Bioderma Micellar Water
- Cethaphil Facial Wash
- Cethapil Face & Body Cream
- Suncut UV Protector
- Skin Repair Cream (prescribed by Dr. Ryan)
- Medication Doxycap (prescribed by Dr. Ryan)
These are the products I use post treatment. Let me brief you through the purposes. The Bioderma Micellar Water and Suncut UV Protector have already been in my skincare regimen prior to the treatment. Although I did not use any makeup (except to draw my brows), I needed my Bioderma Micellar Water to remove the UV Protector. My Suncut UV Protector has SPF 50+++ and suitable to use with makeup and for your body.
I purchased the Cethaphil Facial Wash and Face Body Cream as a trial set from Guardian Pharmacy for only SGD $9.90! It was at the perfect time as I was looking for a gentle cleanser and cream to use just in case my face got really dry and burnt from the treatment. Thankfully, my skin isn’t as sensitive as I thought it would be but I still did switch to Cethaphil Facial Wash as I did not want my face to dry out with a foam cleanser. Since I was prescribed the Skin Repair Cream, I did not need to use the Cethaphil Cream much. I only use it for when I need to take a short walk out to get lunch or go for a run with the UV Protector and I’ll come right back to clean it off before I rest or take a nap (not recommended to sleep with UV Cream on). If I’m out the entire day then I’ll use the Skin Repair Cream and UV Protector. So in other words, my Cethaphil Cream is applied in cases where I won’t have to feel like I’m wasting away my Skin Repair Cream.
I apply the Skin Repair Cream twice a day, once in the day and the other at night before bedtime. However, do take note that the Skin Repair Cream may not work very well under sunlight so try to take the shaded route. The Doxycap medication that has also been prescribed needs to be taken twice a day after meals.
Recovery (Session 1)
Since this is my first experience with any aesthetic laser procedure, I decided to document my skin’s progress. But be warned; there’s no makeup or any editing done to any of these photos so excuse this less than appealing side of me. Click on the photos to have a closer look.
I have many dark acne scars that takes a very long time to go away. On top of that, I have uneven skintone and sun spots are also starting to emerge due to my constant exposure to the sun. I’m very excited for clear even-tone skin!
My skin and scars are visibly lighter! I was expecting it to be red and scaly after treatment but for me, the results were almost immediate and I did not feel any pain or itching which Dr Ryan mentioned some patients might face.
The morning after the treatment, I wanted to check how my skin was doing. It still was not itchy, scaling or dry but I did notice a visible line on my forehead. The skin under my baby hair is darker and my forehead is much lighter. Yay, a step closer in getting rid of my dark forehead! I have food-tasting to go for in the evening and contemplating if I should apply makeup since Dr. Ryan said that there is no restrictions with makeup for this treatment.
I decided not to apply makeup for the food-tasting the evening before but lathered on the sunblock despite being out after 6pm, lol. I wanted to give as much care to my new skin as I possibly can. I realised that some of the dark acne scars have turned into scabs and some have even fallen off while washing my face. Also while washing my face, I could feel really tiny bumps under my skin and a few blackheads. This could probably be the start of the purging effects of the IPL.
Since going for this treatment, I have been applying sunblock everytime I leave the house even if it’s just to go to the neighbourhood mini-mart. The little bump on my left cheek has developed into a pimple. As Dr. Ryan mentioned, it’s important not to meddle with it as it will form new scars. Left it alone, did not even apply any pimple cream, just applied the Skin Repair Cream that was prescribed and took the Doxycap pills as usual. The pimple and little bumps were not painful or swollen like acne and I noticed them while I was washing my face.
Day 4 – Day 8
For these few days, my skin stayed this way – little bumpy underneath but the rest of the face was smooth. Even so, the tiny pimples were not as bad as I expected, I can go out for the night with no makeup (except for my brows) and it would not scare people. I continued taking care of my skin with the Skin Repair Cream and UV Protector however, I decided to stop taking the Doxycap pills for a while as I felt it made me feel nauseous even after food intake and my lips were starting to crack again. Antibiotics tend to mess up my hormones and I tend to suffer it’s side effects. Crossing my fingers that my skin will still be okay without daily intake of Doxycap, maybe I’ll take it when acne is starting to show up.
Day 9 – Day 14
Let me first say that yes, I know look quite Nenek Kemayan-ish (old witch) here, thats because I literally just woke up to snap these so hence the grimy look. So now you guys know how god awful I look in the morning. Anyways, Day 9 to 14 was a little more challenging because I broke out a little more and this time the pimples were a bit more painful maybe because I stopped using the Doxycap but the rest of my skin feels really smooth probably thanks to the Skin Repair Cream. Oh, btw, if you look closely at this picture, you’ll notice how the little hairs on my face are bleached. Let’s see my skin’s progress in Part II.
I went back after Day 14 (2 weeks) for a review of my skin and second treatment which I will document for Part II. It will take more than one session to see results so you have to be patient. I hope I’ve answered as much of the questions about this particular laser skin treatment as there were not many reviews of ladies with tanned skin undergoing laser treatment and that made me a little worried. I’m so glad that it is not as invasive as I initially thought. I am able to go out into the world, I don’t have to put my life on hold and I didn’t look like a shedding snake which was what held me back from undergoing laser treatment until I learned from Aesthetics Central Clinic that there are many more treatments other than CO2 Fraction that may be more suitable to your skin and lifestyle.Do let me know if you have any more questions about the IPL/RF/IR laser treatment and stay tuned for the next part of this series to follow my journey to flawless skin.