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An Aesthetic Doctor's Complete Guide to Non-Surgical Facelifts In Singapore (2018)

Posted on 29 Jan 2018
An Aesthetic Doctor's Complete Guide to Non-Surgical Facelifts In Singapore (2018) undefined

There's an increasing number of aesthetic institutions (clinics, spas, and salons) in Singapore offering face-lifting procedures that don't require incisions. Hence, the term ‘non-surgical facelifts’. 

Unfortunately, it seems to me that a lot of these places overpromise what their procedures can deliver. Quite a number of my patients have spent a hefty sum of money on multiple treatments prior to seeing me, with no visible improvements. 

non-surgical facelift singapore

Hence, I’ve decided to write this article to help Singaporeans who are keen on getting their face-lifted without going under the knife. I don’t want patients to waste their hard-earned money on ineffective treatments.

non-surgical facelift singapore

As an aesthetic doctor who has plenty of experience with performing non-surgical facelifts, I'm going to share useful insider information with you.

I hope this article can help you find the best non-surgical facelift procedure in Singapore for yourself. 

First up, what is non-surgical facelift?

There're 3 different types of non-surgical face lifts that can achieve lifting without plastic surgery: 

  1. Energy-based 
  2. Filler-based 
  3. Thread lift-based 

For the purpose of this article, I'll be focusing on energy-based devices. These machines used a variety of energy types to tighten and lift your skin while diminishing wrinkles.

non-surgical facelift singapore

Picture credit: Ultherapy

Different depths of penetration for different energy devices and plastic surgical facelift

Some of these energy types include:

  • ultrasound energy
  • radio frequency energy
  • laser
  • infrared light

They are usually offered as an alternative to surgical facelifts. These non-surgical facelifts do not require any needles or incisions. As a result, there is minimal or zero downtime.

What is the cost of a non-surgical face lift in Singapore?

Type of machine

Type of energy

Penetration depth

Effectiveness (out of 5)

Pain rating (out of 5)

Cost per session/tube

Thermage

Radiofrequency

3mm

**

XXXX

$2,800 - $6,000

Ultherapy

High Intensity Ultrasound (HIFU)

 4.5mm

*****

XXXX

$3,200 - $5,800

Sygmalift

Cold laser 635mm & HIFU

 N.A.

***

X

$250 - $800 (requires 3 sessions per month)

Ultra Skin II

High Intensity Ultrasound (HIFU)

 4.5mm

*****

XXX

$2,000 - $3,600 

Ultraformer III

High Intensity Ultrasound (HIFU)

 4.5mm

*****

XXX

$2,400 - $3,800

Titan

Infra-red

 1 - 2 mm

**

XXX

$400 - $1,200

FOTONA 4D Laser Lift

Ultra Long Pulse Nd:YAG 1064 Laser

 4 - 5 mm 

*****

XX

 $600 - $1,200 (requires monthly sessions, 3-5 sessions in total)

Filler lift

Biodegradable filler material 

N.A.

(use to give structural support and add volume)

*****

XX

$600 - $1,400 (depending on brand and doctor experience)

Threadlift 

Biodegradable suture material with barbs or cogs 

N.A. (for anchorage and tension lift of sagging tissues)  

 *****

 XXX

 $2,500 - $5,500 (depending on areas treated and doctor experience)

Why are the prices so varied?

 There are a few factors that affects the cost of your procedure: 

  • Varying effectiveness. Not all machines are created equal. Thus, a procedure that is based on a more effective technology will generally cost more. Please note that the number of treatment sessions SHOULD NOT play a major factor in determining the price of the procedure.

Important notes: 

For instance, there are many facial salons offering under-powered HIFU treatments, and even upsell multiple sessions of such weak HIFU procedures to their customers, encouraging them to come back once a month for repeat treatments.

Do not be fooled. For HIFU to be effective, it is to be done in a single-intense session. No number of under-powered HIFU procedures can equal ONE properly-done procedure using a reliable HIFU machine. 

  • Premium charges - Sometimes, pioneer brands of a new technology charges a premium. E.g. Ultherapy is the most expensive HIFU machine as it was the first. 
  • Targeted treatment regions - E.g. The Fotona 4D Laser Face Lift machine can help with multiple conditions like eyelid refinement, resurfacing, in addition face-lifting. 
  • Skill and experience - Experienced doctors will be more costly

Beware of facial centres offering cheap non-surgical face lift services

I've seen many spas promoting HIFU full face lift for as low as $200 - $300. These machines are most certainly not authentic. Due to the high cost of the machine, they will be running a loss for every procedure they do.

Similarly, if you are being sold fillers for less than $300 per tube, or a full-face thread lift for less than $400, alarm bells should go off in your head. 

When prices are lower than the cost of the materials, it makes the product quality and the sources highly suspicious.

“Why are there no visible improvements after so many face lifting treatments?”  

There are 4 main reasons why your energy-based treatments do not show visible results. 

  1. Your doctor is using the wrong type of machine for you 

non-surgical facelift singapore

There many devices available in the market. It's important that your doctor selects the most suitable one for you. From my experience, the penetration depth of the energy determines its effectiveness.  

Above all, doctors should be looking to target the deeper layers of the skin.

non-surgical facelift singapore

We have a layer under our skin called the SMAS (subcutaneous musculo-aponeurotic system). For our skin to produce collagen, we need to stimulate this deeper part of the skin at 4.5mm. If the energy given out is unable to reach this depth, then it will not yield visible results. 

Different types of energies have different penetration depths.

You've probably heard of Thermage. It used to be one of the most popular facelifting treatment a few years ago. 

Currently, it has been surpassed by High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU). HIFU waves are able to reach a depth 4.5mm, whereas Thermage only reached 3mm. In the past, this layer can only be accessed by plastic surgeons during operations. 

When energy is deposited at the 4.5mm depth, the SMAS can be tightened. Therefore, the lifting result becomes more obvious.

The table below summarizes some of the popular technologies used for non-surgical face lifting. 

Type of energy

Depth of skin penetration (mm)

Brand of machine

Infra-red laser

1 - 2 

Titan

Radiofrequency 

1.5 - 3 

Thermage

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

1.5, 3, 4.5 

Ultherapy, Ultraskin II, Ultraformer

Long Pulsed ND:YAG 1064 laser energy

Variable length up to 4.5 

 Fotona Sp Dynamis

  1. The energy your doctor is delivering is too painful for you!

The way the energy is delivered to your skin plays a vital role in its effectiveness. Many a time, how the energy is delivered into the skin is beyond the patient's pain threshold.

For example, during a Thermage face lift procedure, the lower depths of the skin are heated only after the skin surface has been heated. Many patients are unable to tolerate the scalding sensation on the skin surface.

As such, the doctor has to lower the power to complete the procedure. This reduces the amount of energy that effectively reaches the deeper parts of the skin. In such cases, patients are under-treated.

  1. Brand and reliability of machine matters

It's important for you to know the machines that your doctor is using. Reason being, there are tons of 'copycat' machines out there that claim to be able to do miracles for your skin.

Personally, there are only a select few that I trust. Some of these include: 

  • First generation Ultherapy
  • Ultraskin II
  • Ultraformer

Your doctor have to choose a machine from a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer. Reliable results can only be achieved through reliable machines. 

  1. You’re getting a wrong assessment for your condition

First of all, you should know that not everyone is suitable for an energy device facelift. Only a small percentage of patients can reap all the benefits. 

Therefore, I came up with a checklist of ‘Danger Factors’. If my patients are affected by any one of these, I'd not recomend an energy-based non-surigcal facelift.

  • Too much skin laxity – If the patient's skin is too loose, he/she should explore the possibility of a surgical facelift. 
  • Large and heavy fat pads on the face - As we age, we lose fat in our faces. This is why our skin looks like it's falling down and 'deflating'. If the patient has severe sagging skin, he/she may benefit more from a threadlift procedure. 
  • Significant volume loss - Ever noticed some individuals with sunken cheeks, temples, and eye hollows? This lost volume can't be replenished by a non-surgical face lift through an energy device. From my experience, he/she should go for a filler-based procedure. 
  • Bone resorption - When we grow older, our facial bones become smaller. This smaller surface area reduces support for the skin on top, cause the skin to look like it's draping.
  1. Your doctor only wants to perform certain types of procedures 

Energy-based treatments (Thermage/Ultherapy/HIFU/etc) aren't the only way to achieve non-surgical face lift.

Unless your condition meet certain criterias, a non-surgical face lift through an energy device is the surest way to waste your money!

Your aesthetic doctor should be able to offer all-rounded services

non-surgical facelift singapore

Your doctor needs to be able to offer you more than just an energy-based non-surgical face lift. He/she should take the initiative to educate you, and offer alternative procedures. 

Yet more than 60% of doctors who has gone through training for other types of non-surgical face lifts like thread lifts choose not to offer it to their patients. For the reason that it's technically more challenging.

Filler lifts are also not favoured by some doctors. A filler lift require multiple success factors. The doctor has to have to have an artistic eye for aesthetic proportions of the face while making sure that the injections are safe, avoid the danger areas where vital facial arteries are, and also ensure the whole procedure has minimal chance of bruising.

Energy devices, filler lifts and thread lifts work hand in hand

If the doctor only offers one type of procedure, he/she will be severely limiting his/her ability to improve your skin! More often than not, you will be shortchanged. 

The saying goes: if you only use a fork to eat, you are going to miss out on some great soups.

Always choose a doctor who specialises in varying types of non-surgical face lift procedures. 

"Why some clinics only offer energy-based non-surgical face lift procedures?"

There are three main reasons: 

  • These treatments are non-invasive. Thus, there's a low risk of side effects and complications. 
  • It's a convienent and hassle-free procedure that can be easily performed. 
  • There's a need to cover the cost of the machine. An effective non-surgical face lift machine like Ultherapy can cost up to $150,000. Clinics who have pumped in hefty sums in acquiring these equipment may feel the pressure to push for these procedures.

Who are suitable candidates for energy-based non-surgical face lifts?

non-surgical facelift singapore Dr Heng

A typical patient who will benefit from a non-surgical facelift done through energy devices should have the following traits:

  • First signs of skin laxity
  • Minimal excess skin
  • Minimal facial volume loss
  • Skin that is not too heavy
  • Mild to moderate soft tissue bulk (fat pads)

"Am I a suitable candidate for energy-based non-surgical face lifts?"

To help you better udnerstand your condition, I've included some pictures of real-life people here for comparison. 

non-surgical facelift singapore

Case 1

Diagnosis: Early signs of laxity, minimal facial volume loss

Conclusion: Good candidate for energy-based non-surgical face lift

non-surgical facelift singapore Dr Heng

Case 2

Diagnosis: Significant laxity, facial fat pad descent, and soft tissue ptosis

Conclusion: Poor candidate for energy-based non-surgical face lift

non-surgical facelift singapore Dr Heng

Case 3

Diagnosis: Moderate laxity, early signs of facial volume loss at temples, under-eye and cheek areas

Conclusion: Good candidate for energy-based non-surgical face lift, but has to be combined with filler face lift for optimal results

How to find the best doctor for your non-surgical facelift?

  • Ask the doctor what are the different types of procedures he/she can perform

non-surgical facelift singapore Dr Heng

Sometimes, they don't have the machine or the skills to perform certain procedures. As a result, they disreagrd your needs, and only push for the ones that they offer. Hard selling of products and services can also occur at aesthetic clinics too!

  • Find out about is/her experience with procedures and machines

Ask the doctor how many procedures he has done before and how many types of energy devices he has used before. This is the easiest way to determine expertise of a doctor. 

After all, practice makes perfect! He/she should have a breadth of experience in a wide range of treatments, as well as depth of experience in each particular procedure. 

Personally, I have done more than 1000 procedures of non-surgical face lift, specializing in Thermage before moving on to Ultherapy and HIFU as the technology in the industry advances. Subsequently, I also honed my expertise in other deep penetrating laser devices.

A doctor needs to understand a wide range of machines to know each of their limitations, so that they can best advice their patients. A well-trained doctor knows when NOT to treat patients.  

  • Ask for before and after pictures

non-surgical facelift singapore

Never be afraid to ask the doctor for before and after pictures from previous patients. This gives you a good gauge of the doctor’s level of competence. However, individual results may vary. 

Your doctor would have probably chosen the photos that depicts best outcome for your reference. Therefore, you may not achieve the same outcome as what you see.

As long as you see visible improvements in the photos, you can be sure that he/she will do the best for you to achieve similar results.

Conclusion 

Non-surgical facelift procedures are expensive. You should find a doctor who is patient enough to listen to your problems and answer whatever questions or doubts that you may have. 

Most importantly, a good aesthetic doctor should never over-promise results but give you a realistic treatment plan for the best outcome.

I hope this helps all of you!


Dr Heng's philosophy in aesthetic medicine is that it should be holistic & personalised, backed by scientific research & administered in the context of each patient. His particular area of passion include non-surgical face lifting, dermal fillers, botox, and other injectables. He is also a certified laser physician and certified cosmetic scientist, and produces his own range of skincare to provide comprehensive aesthetic medical care for his patients. 

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