Facelifts and plastic surgery are no longer frown upon at this day and age, with many benefitting from a series of treatments to treat skin problems and worries. During my visit to Ageless Medical at Wheelock Place, a newly opened 3,500 sqft aesthetic clinic helmed by veteran practitioner, Dr. Lam Bee Lan, I got to speak to her about how she defines success, helping inmates remove tattoos at Changi Prison and tips to expect before your first facelift.
Her first foray in the aesthetics industry
Dr. Lam is first a general practitioner, an aesthetic doctor, second. “Most aesthetic doctors in Singapore are general practitioners, and I’ve graduated about 25 years ago in this field. I generally like to treat skin and I find that when your skin is good, you feel good and confident. Way back when we didn’t have lasers, I was selling good skincare products and treatments like microdermabrasion and chemical peels. When the chance came for me to go full-fledged, I felt that I wanted to do this as it was a natural progression,” she shared.
Her office, lined with congratulatory hampers, cards and 3D skin models, is modern, clean and chic. She reaches out for one of the anatomy models to show me: “Skin is the largest organ of our body, and treating the skin, not only on our faces and bodies, is important. Pigmentation to me, having a little is fine but overall as long as the skin tone is nice, healthy, it reflects that you lead a good lifestyle. That’s why I branched into this; also because of vanity (laughs). But I do help people to look good!”
Back when Dr. Lam first opened her clinic in 2004, she and team have commanded over 80,000 treatments (a big feat!) and counts celebrity hairstylist David Gan and actress Rebecca Lim as friends of the clinic. “I grew from 600sqft outfit in Thomson Plaza in 2004, where I’ve been practising for 14 years now, and expanded to Orchard Great Hotel and an outlet at Raffles City, where we subsequently we gave up to one of our partners. I closed both outlets and expanded to this outlet in Wheelock Place, which is over 3,000sqft (she pauses albeit briefly, almost like her mind reflected upon her current success).
When I started in this industry, I didn’t think I would grow my business this big; I would say we are doing fairly okay, with the hiring of two marketing persons and a handful of celebrities seeing me. That’s the aesthetic industry; we make our patients feel good, and business grow from word of mouth. Making the patients feel confident and comfortable in their own skin, to me that is success,” she defines success in her own words.
Helping others and making your passion your profession is key
Despite wearing a few hats (being a mother, wife, doctor, businesswoman, trainer), Dr. Lam still finds time to give back to society. “In 2009, I was part of a team who went to Changi Prison to remove inmates’ tattoos to help rehabilitate them. If I could make use of my skills to give back to society, why not? The inmates have to go through a selection process after they’ve renounced their gang membership and each tattoo removing session takes up to 20. It is a painful process!” she shares.
Was she afraid of being the only female doctor in her team? She was, initially, and even her husband too, but she stressed that the inmates are just human beings like us who want a second chance, and that fear just melt away. Dr. Lam was even conferred a 5-year Service Award by the Singapore Prison Authority in 2014, and she continues to visit the prison to extend her services till today.
But doing all of that, and expanding her business, she wasn’t alone.
“I had a lot of help from in-laws, parents, hubby who is also a businessman, whose hours are more flexible, and my good kids. When I set up my aesthetic business, by then, my kids have already grown. Most younger doctors set up their practice in their 20s or 30s but for me, I am the reversed. I focused on bringing up my kids first, then moved on to my business. My husband gave me his blessings; now that I have been doing fairly well, he said just go forth and expand. That’s why I’ve only been expanding the space about five months ago. I feel having some life experiences help you to make good decisions,” she shares.
It’s not just life experiences that Dr. Lam counts on, but passion too, which goes hand-in-hand: “I feel, your passion in doing something well will make your business grow, and you will grow your business without realising that it is actually your passion fueling it. There’s a show by this famous Indian director, with a saying ‘make your passion your profession’ and I tell my kids that saying. If a patient shows me a simple appreciation by buying me a small gift, to me that is also success.”
What differentiates her clinic from the rest
“Being around for 15 years, I would say I am more or less a pioneer in this industry and I train others in a couple of big companies like Galderma, which is an arm under Nestle, that produces fillers; Ipsen and Allergan. Because of this experience, I get invited to talks and trainings around China, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Italy, France where I also present and got to learn from under professionals.
When we bring back these knowledge of new technologies and treatments that are Singapore Health Body and FDA-approved, we are the first few clinics to try it in Singapore. I don’t buy all the machines as they can worth a quarter of a million!
Take for example Rejuran, a type of filler that contains salmon DNA – we are probably the first few clinics to carry this in Singapore. And I presented a talk on this in South Korea, which sounds strange as they’re the forefront in the beauty industry.
Combination of treatments is also what we do at my clinic. I have a few laser machines in this clinic as I don’t believe one singular machine can treat acne, pigmentation, age spots – so for most clinics who promote that practice, is not right. So that’s how I would say we are different from other clinics out there.
It’s also important for me to come out and share my experiences with the younger practitioners; when you train one person, two people benefit from this. Sometimes I learn from my trainee a different way they practice, and I find another good idea.”
Any plans to expand?
“Right now, we only have me and Dr. Matthew to stabilise the business as the clinic is still new – what’s important is good branding for us. If there are good opportunities to expand, we may consider. Next year we might bring in a plastic surgeon who can treat patients on upper and lower eyelids surgery.”
What to expect before your first facelift
“First thing to know are your needs and expectations. For example, when I first look at you, your pigmentation needs some treatment, but you’ve shared that you aren’t too bothered by it. You have concerns over your under eye dark circles, which yes, are prominent. So finding out which clinic gives you products that are worth your investment.
Secondly, the operator of the tool is also important as you’re paying for the injector’s experience. If you use a filler for your eye bags and the doctor is not injecting it correctly, like hitting into your blood vessels, it can cause a blockage in your blood circulation. The skillset, the experience of the doctor is very important. You should find out about the credentials of the doctor and proceed with caution.”
Combining a few laser treatments can give you the best results.
“When you combine treatments, sometimes you minimise their visits and the downtime is lesser. For example, I would combine LDM, a dual-frequency ultrasound technology with Threadlift, a minimally skin lifting treatment with Rejuran for skin healing. This comes from trainings and sharing studies of what works and not.
LDM will stimulate collagen growth with repeated treatment. LDM treats the skin deeply and on the surface area. I find that the laser effect lasts longer. The laser treatment from Excel V will reduce pigmentation, tightens pores and make your skin look more radiant. Patients using only Excel-V generally find results last up to 3 weeks. With a combination effect between LDM and Excel-V, I think the effect can last up to a month plus; unlike the high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), a non-invasive technique that uses soundwaves that are milder and less painful on skin.”