Dr Thean of Ensoul Medical Clinic Debunks Skincare Myths
While energy-based devices are all the rage now, Dr Thean believes that each treatment should address the root cause of the skin condition through a bespoke treatment plan that involves different modalities.
Everyone desires to look their best but sometimes we all need a little help along the way towards achieving what we aspire to be. Materially, it is fairly simple for one to “look good” through the aid of fashion — wearing the latest collection or getting one’s hand on the season’s accessories. However, dressing to the nines is only skin-deep if it is not accompanied by glowing and radiant skin. As someone who has been struggling with acne-prone skin, I jumped on the opportunity when I was offered a chance to have a consultation with Dr Thean, the founder and Medical Director of Ensoul Medical Clinic.
Just like how we would exercise to keep our bodies healthy, the same attention should be given to our skin. This is the ethos that Dr Thean holds when treating his patients. “In my practice, I have been dedicated to treating ‘disfiguring’ skin diseases, and this ethos is heavily reflected in the treatments we offer.”
My consultation with Dr Thean starts off with sharing my current skincare routine and the past treatments that I have done. After listening to my concerns and skin history, Dr Thean would examine the skin to formulate a treatment plan. For my case, I was recommended to try out their Signature Acne Medi facial, their Quad Laser treatment which consists of a total of 4 lasers including the Long Pulse Laser as well as the Pico Laser, and finally the Radiofrequency (RF) Microneedling treatment. As a medical practitioner with decades of experience, Dr Thean is apt in using a combination of lasers and energy-based devices to achieve the desired result. The use of different modalities is at the heart of Dr Thean’s arsenal of treatments.
As there are a few treatments that were arranged for me, I had to plan out a schedule with my assigned assistant, and my journey officially started with Medifacial. Before the start of any treatment, my face was thoroughly cleansed to remove any products and dirt that was on my skin. Then, I was escorted to another room where photos of my face at different angles were taken — these form a record and allow the doctor to track a patient’s progress.
The Medifacial is conducted in another room just a level above the consultation clinic and the process was fairly straightforward. I was given a skin peel, followed by manual extraction of any whiteheads and blackheads. IPL was done to areas where facial hairs were growing then the session ended with a calming mask. After this session, my skin felt cleaner and had this natural shine.
In the following week, I tried the Trial Quad Lasers and Q-Switch Laser with Anti-ageing. Just like the Medifacial, I had my face cleansed and photographed. The treatment lasted for about 20 minutes. I was ushered into the treatment room and Dr Thean was already inside waiting for me. I was initially quite nervous but Dr Thean’s calm voice reassured me that I was in safe hands. As it was my first time doing such an intensive laser treatment, Dr Thean made sure to check in on me while he was administering the shots. Aside from the prickling sensation and smell of burnt skin, the whole process was smooth and quick. I thanked Dr Thean for the treatment and was whisked off to another room where his assistant helped to bring down my skin redness. Over the next few days, I saw that my skin started to clear up. The stubborn pigmentations that I had lightened, my skin was not as oily as before and I was not breaking out as often anymore.
Next up was Radiofrequency Microneedling treatment. I arrived at the clinic in the evening and the usual cleansing and image-taking were done. But this time round, my face had to be numbed for an hour before treatment. I was brought to a room and the clinic assistant applied numbing cream on my face. Soon, it was time for Dr Thean to conduct his treatment. The aim of RF Microneedling was to stimulate collagen production which in turn firms up the skin and lightens the appearance of scars or blemishes. This is done by creating micro injuries on the surface of the skin to stimulate the natural recovery of the body. For this treatment, it was slightly painful but still bearable. The doctor was cognizant of the troubled areas on my face and tailored the process to my condition. Everything was done within 30 minutes, and over the next few days, my skin felt firmer while the deep scars were not as obvious anymore. There were some red spots due to the needling but they were gone a few days later.
Overall, my experience with Ensoul Medical Clinic has been positive so far. Both Dr Thean and his team made sure that I was comfortable throughout the treatment. They also explained what they were doing at each juncture so I was not lost in translation.
Ahead, we speak with Dr Thean of Ensoul Medical Clinic, where he shares more about the treatments his clinic offers and debunks some skincare myths.
What are some misconceptions that you wish to address with regards to using medical lasers as a form of treatment? (E.g., Long downtime expensive, etc.)
When it comes to laser therapy, as popular as it has become, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the technology, as well as what it does as a treatment. In fact, the more common myths about laser treatments are that they have extremely long downtimes, they tend to be expensive, and also that they may be painful.
Over the years, aesthetic technology has advanced tremendously, allowing us to achieve good results with no to low downtime and virtually no pain. Some of the misconceptions that I would like to discuss are:
Myth #1 : It’s the Laser that Delivers the Results
One problem with the surging popularity of laser treatments is that you may think that you know what you need because you’ve seen it popping up on social media or have friends who have undergone the laser treatments themselves. But the biggest mistake is to get hung up on the type of laser or even the brand names. The type of laser and brand names of lasers are far less important than your skin condition as well as the skill and knowledge of the doctor performing the laser treatment.
Every laser has different parameters, settings, and wavelengths that need to be customised for optimal results. Everyone comes with a different skin type and condition that they are trying to seek help for. For example, with darker skin, you must be extremely cautious with the setting. I’ve seen patients who end up with poor results or problems from laser treatments because of treatment methods where they didn’t get the results they were expecting to see.
In the same way you wouldn’t go to a concert and ask the chefs what brand of musical instrument or guitar they’re using to play their music, the focus on brands instead of the skills, capabilities and experience of the doctor can leave you uninformed and prone to making the wrong decisions in your pursuit to better skin.
Myth #2: All Lasers are the Same
While laser skin treatments generally operate on the same principle — using a light beam to repair the skin, and destroy unwanted elements, it does not mean that any one laser can cure all skin issues. There is simply no scope for the ‘one size fits all’ approach when using lasers for skin treatments.
There is a vast range of variations in the power and other parameter settings of each laser and different laser machines have different wavelengths and pulse durations, which directly affects what sorts of skin conditions you might use it for. Therefore, the choice of machines and the parameter settings are critical for good results.
One laser is not the be-all and end-all — we must always consider what we need to treat. Lasers of a specific wavelength is prescribed in accordance with the patient’s skin problem, condition, skin colour, and treatment area. So, even if two patients are suffering from what seems to be similar skin problems, it is not possible that the same lasers and settings would be used for each of their treatments.
Myth #3: Laser Thins the Skin
Another common misconception is that lasers reduce skin thickness. In fact, the opposite is true. The laser actually stimulates the increased production of chemical mediators within the dermis to generate more collagen and elastin. Collagen is a protein that makes the skin thicker, while elastin helps to make the skin bouncier and firmer. Over time, the collagen protein matures to become stronger, more stable and longer-lasting.
As demonstrated in the treatment of deep atrophic scars, a laser is used to rebuild the skin’s dermal tissue and fill in the “holes” created by previous acne infections. This dispels the myth that lasers thin the skin.
Laser treatments comprise a major option of the suite of services that Ensoul Medical Clinic provides, could you share with us why this is the preferred choice?
Instead of seeing it as the preferred choice, we look at it as what are the best treatment options research has proven, and our expertise in treating the disease aspects of aesthetics, of pigmentation, acne and acne scars.
Different laser treatment modalities use different wavelength sources of high-energy light, and it can target different layers of the skin or skin issues. When we are able to target both the epidermis and dermis of the skin, we found that we can achieve very good results for the above skin conditions. In addition, it helped patients achieve smaller pores, smoother skin, and fairer skin. We also found that it produces toning, lifting, skin tightening, and profound skin renewal, resulting in a natural glow.
That said, despite using a combination of different laser modalities for our laser treatments, we also have a comprehensive suite of energy-based devices that utilises technologies such as radiofrequency, ultrasound, and many others so that we are able to customise tailored treatment protocols for every single one of our patients.
How have laser treatments changed over the last few years and what is currently the most popular type of treatment in the market?
Laser technology in the field of medical aesthetics has evolved tremendously in the last few years. An increase in the awareness of aesthetic beauty has led to immense growth in research and development of laser treatments.
We can now achieve better results with less downtime, less pain, and more safely. This also necessitates that we keep abreast of the latest techniques and technologies. But for us, rather than ensuring we provide the trendiest treatment, it is the effectiveness of a treatment that is important to us.
For example, a new laser, the Pico Laser, is often mentioned. This is a result of the many laser manufacturers who heavily promote their “Pico Laser”. The market is oversold on this machine, but this technology is only suitable for some specific skin conditions. In addition, not every skin problem can be treated successfully with only one laser too.
How are clients readily opting for laser as a treatment? Do you observe an increase in people choosing this over other treatment options?
Ensoul Medical Clinic is primarily an energy-based focused medical clinic that includes a wide range of lasers. We have special interests in treating the disease aspect of aesthetics, such as chronic pigmentation conditions like melasma. This is an extremely challenging skin condition to treat and lasers have proven to be an effective method for difficult-to-treat melasma. Therefore, as many of our patients have tried various other treatments previously with little success, they have no issue with opting for laser as a treatment.
While there has been an increase in people asking for laser treatments over other treatment options, their customised treatment plan is dependent on the severity and type of skin condition that the patient is seeking treatment for. Patients may request laser treatments, but we have to always assess and evaluate the circumstances of the patient, and customise the most appropriate protocol for treating the issue at hand.
What are the benefits of using different modalities when treating a client and why is this the preferred choice at Ensoul Medical Clinic?
Every patient is different, and no treatment is ever one-size-fits-all. Customised solutions that consist of different modalities are essential for results because they are created to match the exact specifications of the skin condition, and it allows for more effective targeting of the problem.
For example, we have many patients who struggle with melasma, a chronic skin condition that causes dark patches and spots on the face, there are no two persons that has the exact same melasma spots.
Melasma is more than just pigmentation. There is also photodamage from excess UV radiation, causing inflammation in the dermis; a defect in the skin’s epidermal basement membrane layer; and abnormal blood vessels in the dermis. Melasma pigments also sit in different depths of the skin which require a customised approach with many different combinations of machines, power settings, and constant balancing for optimal results.
Therefore, multiple different modalities must be used to successfully treat different severity and types of melasma. It is paramount that a customised solution is crafted for each patient, monitored and modified according to response, so that we are able to address their individual and unique skin problems.
What are some common skin conditions that you frequently see among your clients, and could you share with us some of the more popular treatment at the clinic?
The most common skin condition treated at Ensoul Medical Clinic is chronic hyperpigmentation such as melasma. Other than pigmentation, we treat many patients that struggle with acne as well as oily skin – from teens going through puberty to working adults. Acne is a very common skin condition that can affect the face, chest, shoulders, and back. While it often appears in the teenage years, it can persist into adulthood as well. We also treat old acne scars, both the post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (persistent brown and red spots) and the atrophic acne scars.
The most popular treatments are laser treatments for pigmentation, Medi facials for active acne and ablative radiofrequency therapy for atrophic acne scars. Our treatment protocol for acne includes multiple treatment modalities carefully tailored to each patient. As different types of acne lesions require different treatment approaches, treatments such as Dual Wave Radiofrequency Microneedling, chemical peels, and Medi facials can effectively clear the skin and improve scarring after a few sessions.
What have been the client profiles at Ensoul Medical Clinic in terms of nationalities and do you see a rise in males coming down for consultations?
Our clinic caters mainly for local Singapore residents who believe in wanting to clear their disfiguring skin conditions via natural, non-invasive and proven energy-based devices treatments too. Our client profiles do consist of the expat community of different nationalities, our core clientele are mainly professionals from their late 30s onwards, many who are regular gym goers, and believe that keeping their skin healthy is as important as keeping their bodies healthy.
Treatment of complicated melasma and difficult acne are the most common treatments performed at the clinic. These require regular sessions at the beginning of the treatment protocol. Therefore, it is challenging for us to treat patients who fly in for a short period of time. However, given the nature of our body treatments, where patients are not required to visit as regularly, we do see patients from around the world.
Men are taking better care of their skin and bodies today, adopting a more proactive approach to maintaining a youthful appearance. Thus, we are seeing a rise in male patients from about 20 per cent to nowadays 30 per cent coming for treatments for both the skin as well as the body.
With over 30 years of experience, what is something that is non-negotiable when it comes to taking care of one’s skin?
When it comes to taking care of the skin, I always believe that more is not more. Many people believe that using more skincare products on their faces will benefit their skin. Others are the same with aesthetic treatments, making sure they get their hands on every one of the trendiest treatments in order to maintain a youthful appearance. The truth is that these efforts are simply overloading the skin with more chemicals that sometimes end up doing more harm than anything else.
The most important thing is to stick to the essentials — do only what’s good for your skin. All you need is a simple daily regimen to cleanse and hydrate the skin, as well as regular treatment that rejuvenates the skin from within, decreases inflammation, and stimulates natural collagen production to keep the skin youthful and healthy.
Apart from offering laser treatments, what other services does Ensoul Medical Clinic offer that differ from the rest?
Aside from laser treatments, Ensoul Medical Clinic offers a range of other medical services as well. We focus on providing a full range of energy-based devices to treat a wide variety of skin problems. These include:
- Radiofrequency (non-ablative, ablative, pulse and continuous wave microneedling)
- Ultrasound therapy (low intensity, high intensity focused, high intensity fractional focused)
- Light therapy (Intense pulse and low level)
Our services extend beyond the skin to the entire body. The chosen techniques and treatments allows for fat reduction, skin tightening as well as cellulite reduction without the need for surgery or injections.
- Non-invasive Body Sculpting (Fat freezing, laser lipolysis, cellulite reduction and skin laxity treatments)
Many of these treatments are done for existing patients after their critical problem of pigmentation, or acne, are cleared and they are seeking to improve and maintain a youthful appearance and age gracefully.
When mentioning aesthetic procedures, South Korea and Thailand often come to mind as the top destinations for treatments, how is Singapore fairing in this highly competitive sector?
The main edge that Singapore has against other popular cosmetic tourism destinations would be the high level of patient safety and care from the practices. This is a highly regulated field with stringent guidelines put in place by the Ministry of Health. These guidelines not only regulate the services and offerings of a practice, but also its premises and even advertising efforts.
Additionally, all medical practitioners have to be registered with the Singapore Medical Council, which ensures guidelines are adhered to in order to avoid medical malpractice. Despite the higher costs for aesthetic treatments, the high level of healthcare standards has kept Singapore a popular destination for cosmetic tourism.
What do you envision Ensoul Medical Clinic to be in five years?
When I set out my vision for Ensoul Medical Clinic, I did so with the objective of wanting to improve the quality of my patients’ lives, and to improve the skin health of my patients. As opposed to medical conditions that cannot be seen, patients with skin conditions bear their diseases on the outside for the world to see. Living with these conditions can affect a person’s overall wellbeing, negatively affecting their self-esteem and sometimes even isolating them and hindering their social life.
In my practice, I have been dedicated to treating “disfiguring” skin diseases, and this ethos is heavily reflected in the treatments we offer. I have witnessed many patients who struggle with these skin diseases like melasma or acne, who walk out different people, standing tall and confident once they see significant improvements in their skin conditions from when I first saw them.
Therefore, in five years, I envision Ensoul Medical Clinic to remain a boutique clinic, continuing to invest in the latest proven technologies and techniques in our quest to advance our expertise and focus on treating disfiguring skin conditions. We will not waver in our aim to improve the quality of our patients’ quality of life as well as improve the skin health of our patients by treating their conditions from the root causes and keeping their skin healthy and youthful.
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