Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sciton BBL technology helps skin look Forever Young

Studies have shown that an even and clear complexion is the most important determinant in others perception of a person’s age. Likewise improving the appearance of the skin is the single factor most likely to help one look younger and healthier. Most beauty treatments provide superficial improvements in our appearance. Is it possible to promote youthful skin on a molecular level for lasting results?

A breakthrough study by dermatologist Dr Anne Chang from Stanford University published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (November 2012) shows that Sciton BroadBand Light (BBL) treatments can restore the gene expression of aged human skin to more closely resemble young skin. The study supports the hypothesis that regulators of ageing can be altered in human skin using BBL technology to promote a functional change, rather than just a cosmetic mimic of youthful appearance. BBL treatments promote the appearance of a more youthful and rejuvenated skin at a molecular level, besides the clinically visible decrease in redness, pigmentation, pores and fine wrinkles.

An additional study by renowned dermatologist Dr Patrick Bitter Jr. from California published in Cosmetic Dermatology (February 2013) journal takes this ground breaking research further and explores the practical application and patient results of BBL treatments. The results showed that participants who underwent regular treatment with BBL over a period of up to 11 years looked noticeably younger than their actual age. Although their treated skin actually aged a median of 9 years, participants appeared to have aged a median of minus 2 years.  A series of initial treatments followed by regular maintenance treatments once or twice a year can reduce and delay the long-term signs of skin ageing such as sun damage, capillaries, fine lines and wrinkles, and skin laxity in a natural-looking way.

4 things learnt from patient observations of BBL:
1. The more treatments with BBL, the better looking the skin appears
2. Patients, no matter what age, experience the anti-ageing benefits of BBL
3. Treated skin anywhere on the body (eg. face, neck, chest and hands) shows the same anti-ageing benefits
4. No risks have been observed to having numerous FotoFacial treatments with BBL

4 benefits of Forever Young BBL technology:
1. Improve the appearance of aged skin
2. Reverse the signs of skin ageing
3. Delay skin ageing
4. Possibly reduce the risk of skin cancer

More information and a Before & After Gallery can be found by visiting

Dr Christina Tan is an experienced cosmetic and laser physician based in Melbourne.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How To Look As Young As You Feel ............ By Giving Nature A ‘Helping Hand’

Some people look young at their death bed, and that is because their die young. Think Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

Most of us aspire to live a long and productive life as we are too busy enjoying all the finer things and people in our lives, and want to contribute to the society we live in. We earnestly do our best to exercise regularly and eat well, and we often feel fit and healthy on the inside. Unfortunately looking at the mirror reminds us of our journey through life and the passing of time, which does not always evoke comfortable feelings as we look back and long for the lost opportunities of our bygone youth and our fading beauty.

The wrinkles, the red and brown marks, the gauntness and droopiness: they all conspire to tell the world that we are getting towards our ‘use-by’ dates. Our self esteem plummets in friendships and relationships, and we feel less competitive in the job market against the younger and more attractive contenders. It is not fair. We all want to be liked for our life experience and inner beauty, but other people and society cannot help themselves and will judge us based on our ‘looks’ whether we like it or not.

The majority of people are not keen on or simply terrified of undergoing the knife. Cosmetic surgery looks glamorous and miraculous on shows like Extreme Makeover, but the reality is that surgery is painful, can cause scarring and permanent nerve damage, and some celebrities who have been ‘over-cooked’ just simply look ghastly and hideous. We all have read stories of young and healthy people who had died unexpectedly during or shortly after a routine liposuction procedure. Not to mention the weeks to months needed for recovery, and the significant expenses involved. This is not to say that some people with significant issues do genuinely benefit from appropriate cosmetic surgery and the risks can be mitigated by choosing a reputable surgeon.

We would all like to age gracefully, but also feel empowered to give nature a bit of a ‘helping hand’ to look more youthful. The name of the game is to look ‘natural’, like a younger version of ourselves with more vitality. We start pondering and researching what we could do to restore a more youthful face, who to help us, and how much it is going to cost. We want minimally invasive, low risk and affordable treatments that produces visible results.

For the motivated person who is ready to take action, the best bet is to make an appointment with a reputable cosmetic doctor to work out a personalised treatment plan that best suits your personal preferences, goals and budget. Many people spend months in the ‘thinking’ stage, crawling through the internet for information. Either way, an understanding of the basics of an ageing face would empower and guide us to make informed decisions.

Our faces age in a three dimensional way. Notice how babies have flawless complexions, no wrinkles or folds, full cheeks and a sharp well defined jaw line. There is the saying that our faces evolve from a rounded grape to a shrivelled sultana as we age. A basic outline of the three broad strategies for beautifying an ageing face:

1. Pigment and Redness: These are blemishes on the surface caused by the sun and the ageing process. We also have dull skin, poor tone and open pores. The skin no longer has it’s youthful glow and even colouring, and feels crepey. General treatment strategies would start with using medical grade skincare that actually treats the signs of ageing. The most proven ingredients that actually deliver results are vitamin A, vitamin C and glycolic acids, which should form the core of all skincare routines. There are also a whole host of ingredients like niacinamide, green tea etc that deliver some skin benefits. Supplementing a homecare regime with a series of chemical peels in the clinic can enhance the results achieved. The most powerful treatments would be to perform intense pulse light (IPL) for photo rejuvenation of the skin, or resurfacing the face with a laser to remove the superficial layers of damaged skin and stimulate long term collagen regrowth.

2. Wrinkles: These are divided into dynamic wrinkles which occur with movement and static wrinkles that occur at rest. The first signs of ageing are usually the dynamic wrinkles around the eyes when we smile called crows feet. Other dynamic wrinkles are the frown lines between the eyebrows and the horizontal forehead lines when we lift our eye brows. These lines of expression are often softened with anti-wrinkle injections. It is important not to over treat with anti-wrinkle injections or the face would look plastic with a startled expression. With the passage of time, a lot of these untreated dynamic wrinkles would become etched on our faces to become static wrinkles that are visible even we rest our faces. These fine lines tend to be most visible around the eyes and mouth, and can be softened with a combination of anti-wrinkle injections to paralyse the underlying muscles and dermal filler injections to plump out those lines. The great thing about anti-wrinkle injections is that there is no downtime and it is a relatively quick and pain free procedure.

3. Volume Loss: The decline in our facial volume due to atrophy of muscle and bone and sinking of fat start in our 20s but become more visible in our 30s and beyond. From the tear troughs under our eyes, the sunken cheeks, the thinning lips and lip lines, the nasal lines between the nose and mouth, the mouth lines between the mouth and jaw, and the jowls from the excess facial skin sinking downwards. This ‘skeletonised’ face can be quite depressing and is the most difficult ageing change to camouflage with make-up. In days gone by, surgeons injected excess fat obtained from liposuction of the body to plump up the face but this often leads to unpredictable and patchy results. Today the most popular treatment is to use naturally occurring and allergy-free dermal fillers to revolumise the sunken face. This involves a series of treatments using a combination of dermal fillers of varying viscosity expertly injected into the cheeks, lips and around the mouth, and the jaw lines, to recreate the contours of youth. This procedure is often referred to in the media as the ‘liquid facelift’ or the ‘natural lift’. In experienced hands, the results can take years off the face and still look very natural. It is important not to overfill the face or the result would be ‘trout pout’ or ‘pillow face’ which look very unnatural.

Hopefully the article above has enlightened you on the techniques cosmetic doctors use to assess and treat the ageing face. It is also important for clients to help themselves by living a healthy lifestyle: staying out of the sun, wearing SPF 30+ sunscreen, stop smoking, eating healthy food, drinking lots of water, getting lots of sleep, exercising regularly and thinking positive. Some of these lifestyle modifications are free, but the results of feeling better and younger on the inside are priceless when combined with cosmetic treatments performed by your doctor in the clinic.

The article above reflects the views of the author only. Dr Christina Tan is an experienced cosmetic and laser physician based in Melbourne.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How to Choose A Cosmetic Clinic ........... So You Don’t Get Burnt and Scarred For Life

One of the most difficult tasks for someone who has decided that they would like to proceed with a cosmetic treatment to enhance their appearance is which cosmetic clinic to choose. The print and online media are saturated with advertisements of cosmetic clinics, each claiming to be the best. On the other hand, we have also read and heard of horror stories of cosmetic surgery gone horribly wrong. How does the lay consumer avoid becoming the next cosmetic treatment victim?

Naturally the best referral is word of mouth recommendation by someone you know who has undergone the treatment you are interested in. You can see the results with your own eyes and get your most pressing questions regarding cost and their experience answered. But the decision to seek cosmetic treatments is a very intimate and private one, and the majority of people will not admit that they have had ‘work’ done. In fact some would go to great lengths to hide their ‘work’, to give the impression that they are blessed with being naturally good looking.

So the decision on which clinic to choose is a solitary one, which many research online with some apprehension. Doing a google search gives you some idea of what the treatment is about, and the availability of cosmetic clinics in your area, which is a good start. An often overlooked tool is going on to professional organisations websites and checking out the cosmetic doctors in your state. While being a member of such organisations is associated with some degree of professional attainment, it is not a bullet proof way to eliminate the cosmetic cowboys in the industry.

When clicking on the links to the relevant websites, an important thing to check out is the biography of the cosmetic doctors and staff performing your treatments, to gauge their level of training and expertise. Websites that do not list specific names and details of practitioners other than stating that they are well trained, very experienced and the best, feel impersonal, vague and untrustworthy.

The most important decision making tool is your experience during the consultation. Your consultant should be very honest and upfront about the benefits and risks of the treatment proposed, and you should feel comfortable voicing your concerns and getting them answered to your satisfaction. Always trust your intuition, and this may involve going for a few consultations for more invasive and permanent surgical procedures.

Cost is also a valid issue to consider, but should not be your sole justification in choosing your practitioner. Beware of driving down the price too hard, as quality and experience are also important. If something is too cheap to be true, it probably is. For example, with anti-wrinkle injections, charges are typically $15-$20 per unit. If the price is too low, an inferior product could be used, the medication could be diluted down or the injector could be inexperienced. The best compromise would be a competitive price in a reputable clinic with an experienced practitioner.

It is a good idea to find out who will be doing your treatment, and their level of expertise. In general, most people would prefer their consulting doctor performing their treatments. This is perfectly understandable, although keep in mind that there are some excellent cosmetic nurses and aestheticians working alongside the doctor who maybe delegated to perform the procedure under medical supervision. For cosmetic injections performed by a registered nurse, the patient should have seen the doctor for an assessment first, and the injections should be performed in a registered cosmetic medical clinic. All the best cosmetic nurses in the industry usually work alongside doctors. Beware of rogue nurses that travel around and operate autonomously in salons without any medical supervision. Without a proper clinic with expert medical backup, who is going to manage your unforseen complications?

For intense pulse light (IPL) and laser treatments, find out what machines the practitioner is using and their level of expertise. The IPL and laser industry in Australia is mostly unregulated and anyone can buy a machine and set up their own laser hair removal clinic. There is talk of getting all users registered but that has not happened yet. At the very least, registration would ensure that minimum training and safety standards have been met. The doctor, nurse or aesthetician performing your IPL or laser treatment should be familiar with the limitations of their equipment to prevent a burn which can cause permanent scarring. Ask to see before and after pictures of clients they have treated during your consultation. Also be aware that not all machines are the same. There are cheaper machines from China for $20k that basically switches on and off only, to higher end technology costing over $200k. In general, the more expensive medical grade lasers are usually sold only to doctors, and these machines have treatment parameters that can be customised for each client, to maximise safety and efficacy.

Most important thing is to be realistic of results that can be achieved and the risks associated with your procedure. Be aware that side effects like bruising, swelling, discomfort, temporary discolouration etc are common after most treatments and should settle over time. This is routine in almost all cosmetic injections, lasers and operations, and does not mean that the practitioner is incompetent or negligent, which occurs when the doctor operates outside their boundary of training and expertise, or was careless when performing the treatment, resulting in permanent scarring or loss of function.

The following are links to professional organisations that are helpful to begin your research:
- Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia
- Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons
- Australasian College of Dermatologists
- Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery

The article above reflects the views of the author only. Dr Christina Tan is an experienced cosmetic and laser physician based in Melbourne.