by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Dr Melvin Tan on the Big Business of Beauty

Yes, there is that one treatment for women of any age, lifestyle and skin type. 

It’s easy to think of aesthetic treatments as that one big romantic comedy trope that turns you into well, a new you, but truthfully, we prefer to think of it like how we treat our branded bags.

We don’t do massive overhauls and neither do we forcefully take them apart. Instead, we do minor tweaks to make them shinier, to even out uneven colours or to breathe new life into worn leather.

Here, we speak to Dr. Melvin Tan of Epion Aesthetics and Clinic on his personal attitude towards beauty and how he’s making the world a more beautiful place; one mien at a time. 

For those who are grossly misinformed, what is the main difference between Epion Aesthetics and Clinic?

At Epion Clinic, our focus is on correction. We use an array of different lasers to treat anything from unwanted pigmentation to acne scarring to wrinkles. We have energy-based devices like HIFU and Thermage to lift and tighten skin. 

Epion Aesthetics, on the other hand, is our medi-suite which focuses on refinement and maintenance. Should you have great skin to start with or conversely do not, but have completed a circuit of treatment in our clinic, then the medi-suite is the right place to fine-tune or continue your journey with us. 

Here, we have plasma-based clinical facials to prolong the anti-ageing effects of our treatments, deep-cleansing therapies ideal after your acne and pore treatments, fractionated Sygma HIFU to extend skin-tightening effects of HIFU, Thermage or Threads. Our body treatments in the medi-suite are used to further enhance the results of CoolSculpting, as well as address concurrent concerns such as muscle building, cellulite or loose skin. 

Before we delve into the more hard-hitting questions, let’s talk about the decor of Epion Clinic.

I always say that if I hadn’t become a doctor I would have become an architect. I love design and looking at symmetry and form. It is one of the main reasons why I switched from ophthalmology to aesthetic medicine. 

My wife has a design background and we wanted the space to reflect our aesthetics and love for design. We envisioned a boutique clinic with art deco elements that would complement the black and white Tudor Court exterior. We worked with local interior design firm Laank to bring our vision to life. 

What seems to be the #1 issue that Singaporean women seem to face with their face or body and why?

Pigmentation is the most common skin complaint due to the climate, and the nature of Asian skin, which contains more melanin pigments. 

While this protects us from harmful UV radiation, it also makes us more susceptible to developing pigmentation conditions such as sunspots and melasma.

Asian skin also has more oil-producing sebaceous glands than Western skin, which is why oiliness and acne breakouts is another common issue in this part of the world.

When it comes to the body, I think that Asian women are quite fortunate with their genetic body types, which are generally smaller-framed and slim in the trunk. However, most do still want to fine-tune certain body areas.

Come to think of it, what is your personal attitude towards beauty? 

There are objective and subjective elements to beauty and a successful cosmetic treatment enables you to marry these two components well. 

Beauty evolves constantly, though there are certain qualities that are regarded to be fundamental and timeless. These include having great skin, an ideal facial shape, good aesthetic proportions, facial symmetry, a positive emotional outlook, and a strong central facial triangle revolving around the eyes, nose, lips and chin areas. 

Improving the above helps to optimise the objective component which is why it is so critical that you discuss your ideals as fully as possible during your consult with your doctor and come to a “meeting of minds”.

I also personally have a particular interest in the use of Botox, dermal fillers and threads to improve facial contours and structure as well as to beautify facial features.

Do you think that social media has perhaps augmented our perceptions of what “perfect” is? 

Social media is flooded with pictures of beautiful people with “perfect” features. In all likelihood, these pictures have been heavily edited to appear more defined, symmetrical or slimmer. I think young people these days are definitely under a lot more pressure now to look a certain way.

As a physician though, you need to view beauty in wider terms than this because being attractive and beautiful are two separate things. 

Some people are beautiful because their features are perfect, but most attractive people appear that way because their features are imperfect. Many patients can be attractive even when they do not conform to the way society dictates.

I think there are a number of aesthetic treatments will make you look like a younger version of yourself. Saying that however, social media has also helped moved the practice of aesthetic medicine forward in recent years. Patients these days are definitely savvier and more comfortable with exploring the range of what cosmetic medicine treatments have to offer.

What is a wonderfully democratic treatment that a woman of any age, skin type or lifestyle can do at Epion Clinic?

I would say our SkinTyte & Light Lift Plus program in the clinic. The treatment comprises of:

1. Hydrafacial MD which deep cleans, exfoliates, extracts and infuses nutrients into the skin.

2. Broadband light treatment which is an extremely versatile anti-ageing treatment. It is excellent for reversing the visible signs of sun damage such as pigmentation, facial redness, and broken capillaries.

3. SkinTyte utilises infrared light to pass into the deep layer of the skin to intensely stimulate collagen and tighten skin.

4. We end the treatment with the use of a revitalising gold mask.

Do you think a woman can really turn the clock back and Benjamin Button herself?

It’s simple to restore your cheek apples or the lip fullness you had 10 years ago using dermal fillers.

However, the ultimate goal shouldn’t be to look 20 years younger or like a particular celebrity.

It should be looking the best version of yourself at your age. 

What do you wish Singaporean women did more when it comes to taking care of their skin?

1. Exfoliate regularly. I advise my patients to use our Renew AHA exfoliant in the morning and Fortify Retinol (with or without blending Retin-A) at night.

2. Nourish their skin comprehensively, bearing in mind hydrating and moisturising are different steps. Use our Lift Hyaluronic acid serum (a strong water-binding compound to increase skin water content and combat dullness) and Hydrate moisturizer to address dry, flaky skin.

3. Use regular and adequate sun protection, like the Epion Skin SPF 30 and SPF50 Protect 7.1, 7.2. Add an oral sunscreen if you’re going to be out and about, unable to reapply, or expect to perspire. Our latest Cleanse 1.3 is a combination-skin cleanser with built-in SPF providing all-day ionic protection.

4. Start treatment for skin issues earlier. Go for deep cleaning facials, Broadband light for acne to prevent lifelong scarring, pigment lasers for pigmentation. And, engage in HIFU or Thermage for skin laxity. 

You can also do Botox and fillers to prevent deep wrinkles and folds from setting.

What is a recent aesthetic medical advancement that made you break out in cold but excited sweat?

It has been around a number of years but skin-quality injectable technology has really advanced in the recent years. 

In the past 3 years we have had a few excellent products in the market like Juvederm Volite (a powerful skin hydrator lasting 6 months), Rejuran (a skin healer great for improving textural issues such as fine lines, pores and scars) and Profhilo (a highly concentrated Hyaluronic acid booster for firming and lifting).

Can we be privy to your 2020 plans?

2020 has had a rather unusual start to the year but I hope to launch several new products into our product line later in the year and to launch our webstore. I also would like to keep working on optimal treatment combinations in the clinic for our patients.