SINGAPORE, January 2021 — It's been a year since COVID-19 disrupted lives and livelihoods. Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, has recently announced that Singaporeans can expect the vaccines to be made available in early 2021. This good news brings much relief to the anxieties and uncertainties that we face, but the battle continues on a global scale.
How will Covid-19 impact consumer behaviour and demands for wellness, aesthetics and cosmetics surgery in 2021? Dr. Ivan Puah, an accredited liposuction doctor and Medical Director of Amaris B Clinic, who has more than 15 years of clinical experience in medical aesthetics and performing surgical body contouring procedures, anticipates these demands in the Covid-19 era.
Liposuction has been a go-to procedure for many seeking to address excessive localised subcutaneous fat tissues. However, this procedure has faced setbacks in recent years as non-surgical fat reduction options that are marketed at a "lower cost" are widely offered by beauty salons, spas and medispas. Among the non-surgical fat reduction devices, cryolipolysis or fat freezing is the most readily available and widely advertised.
However, Dr Ivan Puah has noticed an increase in patients consulting him for surgical body sculpting in 2020. Many who have undergone fat freezing have experienced minimal results. "Generally, the results from non-surgical treatments are slower than surgical body contouring such as liposuction or VASER Liposuction. In most cases, surgical fat removal produces immediate visible results, which patients will appreciate in one session. On the other hand, it will take multiple sessions for non-surgical treatments to produce some results which inevitably leads to a drop in patient's satisfaction rate and an increase in costs due to the repeated sessions," says Dr Ivan Puah. These patients are turning back to explore the available surgical options.
In 2020, he also saw more patients seeking help to lose fat and weight. In general, these patients experienced major lifestyle disruption due to Covid-19, which inevitably lead to poor eating habits, unbalanced diet, and severe reduction in activity level.
Medicine is ever-evolving, so has medical technologies and surgical approaches. One such treatment is VASER Liposuction. It is clinically known not only for its ability to remove more than 90 percent of localised excess subcutaneous fat in one surgical session, but it also tightens loose skin and stimulates collagen production.
"Technology advancements such as VASER Liposuction certainly allow doctors to remove fat more efficiently. However, the result still lies in the hands of the doctor. I regard body sculpting as 30% science 70% art. This is why I have developed the MDC-Lipo Sculpt® approach for my patients, to produce thorough fat removal with targeted sculpting to her/his body shape and needs. As we see the demand for liposuction regaining its popularity, and more so, in this Covid-19 era, this should no longer be viewed as a typical surgical procedure, and doctors need to take a more personal approach," added Dr Ivan Puah, who is the Chairman of Lipo Peer Review Committee in Singapore.
Looking for information today is a matter of a scroll and click. As a result, consumers have become more sure of what they want and savvier in understanding the options available when it comes to appearance enhancement needs. For doctors, this means having an understanding of treatment combinations that are appropriate while delivering results.
The overly dramatic, high-arched brows and almost "emotionless facial expression" is no longer appealing. Lesser people are interested in having work done on the face only to end up looking like someone else other than themselves. "The appeal of a more natural-looking result fuels the demand for customisation. After all, no two individuals are alike, be it in the physical or structural forms. Patients' concerns can only address these with tailored treatment programs to bring out the best appearance. This demand will carry through into 2021," explains Dr. Puah.
Social media platforms, live video calls and Zoom meetings during Covid-19 have inevitably increased our level of self-consciousness in terms of our appearance. It makes us more visually aware and for some, more critical of our physical appearance, which drives us to seek treatments to address our concerns. As such, moving into 2021, Dr. Puah expects dermal fillers to still be in demand and could even potentially experience a rise. This is mainly due to advancement in product developments and their longevity. With it, however, the occurrence of less-than-desirable results or botched jobs could also increase, if trained and experienced doctors do not perform the injections. Fortunately, hyaluronidase injections are available, prescribed and performed by medical doctors to rectify the side effects such as over-filling and uneven nodules. Hyaluronidase injections could be a prominent feature in 2021.
While this provides relief, it is still the responsibility of an individual to seek out qualified help when seeking such appearance enhancement treatments in the first place.
True knowledge is not just about knowing, but it involves having an understanding. The array of information on the internet can be misleading or even relaying false hopes. In Singapore, not many know that only the Ministry of Health licensed medical clinics can conduct injectable treatments such as botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. This is important to remember and take note as people are often easily enticed when it comes to quick fixes and treatments that are packaged and presented "beautifully" yet in truth, deceiving.
The onus is on an individual to do thorough research or approach a qualified help. As we get more reliant on technology, the ease of finding information can backfire and make us even complacent, but we should not forget that when dealing with our appearance, well being and health; being sloppy is not an option.
The experience and proven track record of a doctor are equally important as being professionally qualified and recognised. A doctor must understand his patients beyond just their (enhancement) needs. Accordingly, they must advise if something is inappropriate or detrimental even. A doctor should try to improve on his craft continuously, and with an expected pool of more savvy clientele cum 2021, this should be a priority.
Pre-Covid times have already seen gyms and yoga studios sprouting in almost every nook and cranny of our island. During Covid-19, Singaporeans become even more health, weight and fitness conscious. "Post Circuit Breaker, we saw a surge in the number of people coming to our practice to seek help for injury issues and those who are unable to lose weight efficiently by themselves," explains Dr. Puah, who has a Graduate Diploma in Sports Medicine. Fitness and nutrition are essential ingredients. Nonetheless, it is not only about practising them but more crucially, understanding what they are about.
"Overall well-being is more than just about eating within the recommended calories count or exercising frequently. Nutrition in your diet is equally important. The body is a complex machine that requires balanced nutrition to function at the optimal cellular level. If you look up the definition, the term 'diet' actually has little to do with what we eat momentarily. Instead, it is related to the food and drinks that we regularly consume to keep our health in tip-top condition," Dr Ivan Puah explains.
The demand for fitness is going to go beyond just being a trend. Wanting to support its patients beyond just providing aesthetics and body sculpting treatments, the team of Sports Medicine professionals at Amaris B. Clinic also provides a niche and holistic approach to weight management, fat loss and cellulite reduction.
It is always advisable to engage qualified help when it comes to matters of fitness and nutrition. Heading into 2021 and armed with lessons from 2020, being healthy will certainly be among the highest priorities.