I was born into a typical HDB heart lander family, my mum worked as a middle income civil servant for her whole life as the sole breadwinner.
I did my O levels at a boy’s school in Bishan, and subsequently my A Levels at a junior college in Mt Sinai (which no longer exists).
For the poor boys and girls who couldn’t afford overseas education back then (in 1996), the only option was subsidized medical education at NUS, the only medical school back then.
I was an average student in med school who got through with mainly Cs and Ds, and gave tuition part time to make ends meet.
As with the majority of doctors in Singapore, we serve one year as a house officer and then a five year bond as a medical officer (including National Service for some of the boys).
I left for private practice sometime in 2006 and spent the first 6 years as an administrator in Healthway Medical Group.
Sometime back in January 2013, I obtained my COCs for performing Botulinum Toxin Injection and Filler Injection, and I was concurrently operating a small general practice group which was floundering due to poor management (by me) and over-expansion.
I’ll be honest – I got into medical aesthetics thinking that it would be easy money and a good way to pay off debt.
10 years passed by in a flicker, and what’s my report card like?
Today, the small GP group which I used to operate has shut down. I’ve got more liabilities than ever, and I’m still putting in long hours. The overheads are high for a medical aesthetic practice, and there’s definitely no easy money. And I’ve given up trying to make money, and focus on doing good aesthetic injectables.
The only saving grace is that I had the opportunity to serve some 20,000 to 30,000 patient visits in the last 10 years, mainly for aesthetic injectables. At least that makes me modestly experienced in the field of aesthetic injectables.
After 10 years of practicing medical aesthetics, I must admit that my energy levels have waned. I no longer look at expanding my practice, and I choose to balance my clinical hours with teaching and contributing to the Society of Aesthetic Medicine (SAM).
My focus is on aesthetic injectables, in particular HA dermal fillers, and in recent years biostimulators.
I liken my practice of injections to the practice of Zen. In the pursuit of better results and outcomes, I have found that the following are necessary:
A good injector has to be fit, strong and have a pair of stable hands to be able to consistently deliver good results. There’s no scope for being hung-over, sleep deprived or feeling unwell when trying to perform consistently high standard good quality injections.
To better enable myself physically, I have embarked on the following measures over the last four years:
- Drastically reduced my social life/social activities
- Stopped drinking alcohol
- Maintain regular sleeping hours
- Regular weights training
It is akin to being a professional athlete; when I am not at work injecting, my life now revolves around optimizing my physical condition to be able to deliver the best possible injections that I can.
Mental discipline is equally as important. Injection techniques must be practiced with great attention to form, and repeated endlessly, case after case, day after day, year after year, decade after decade.
There is no such thing as a “simple” or “casual” injection, every injection mandates 100% focus and effort. I always aim to deliver every injection with my best possible precision and inflict as little pain as I can.
During the process of injecting, I discipline myself to clear my mind and free myself of distraction. The injector’s mind must be clear and the injector’s heart pure. The injector must focus, for there can only be the injector, the injection and the patient. The injector must learn to shed away mundane distractions before stepping into an injection and not be bogged down by the earlier argument with spouse/the sick family cat/the 99% drop in the crypto investment etc.
And as the process of injecting becomes smoother and less painful, the patient reciprocates and forms a positive feedback loop, enhancing the overall injector-injection-patient experience.
I don’t like to say that I “teach” or “train” other aesthetic doctors. I believe that we are all equals, being trained and qualified medical professionals.
When I facilitate a training session its really about the open sharing and exchange of medical aesthetic knowledge, techniques and experiences.
I do enjoy interacting with my industry peers, especially younger doctors as they are the future of the fraternity. A lot of mistakes can be prevented with the appropriate guidance.
Through the process of sharing, I frequently also learn new things as well from the participants, which helps to make me a better doctor as well.
Much remains to be done in terms of putting in place structured training programs and systems for medical aesthetics, and I am merely contributing my 2-cents worth to making the world a better place for the medical aesthetic doctors and patients alike.
It’s just a pity I’ve yet to convince any other doctor to adopt my personal Zen based approach towards injectables.
The Society of Aesthetic Medicine (SAM) represents the doctors practicing medical aesthetics in Singapore.
I’ve been an inactive member for quite a while, and in 2022, as COVID begun to ease, I got roped in to help out.
The main focus is on education, particularly for the younger medical aesthetic doctors, and we put in place seminars and structured programs to better enable our medical aesthetic doctors to serve their patients. We seek to improve the overall practicing landscape for medical aesthetics and benefit the fraternity at large.
I really enjoy helping out with SAM as I can see my efforts benefit other doctors. It’s also a good break from the rigor of clinical practice, and helps to prevent physician burnout/fatigue.
It’s just too bad that SAM doesn’t pay a salary, so I still have to practice for milk powder and diaper money.