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Guide to anti-ageing treatments? Do they really exist? Here’s the spill

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In today’s society, we often aspire to have smooth, glowing skin with the lifted features of our youth. Yes, even way into our 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.

Alas, unless you have a superpower of sorts, we don’t have the ability to stop the clock – ageing inevitably takes a toll on our skin. This is due to the skin’s lessened collagen production as the years race by, as well as environmental culprits such as the sun and pollution. [1]

But even though we don’t have the powers of time manipulation like Dr. Strange, we can invest in one thing: anti-ageing treatments. While they might not transform you into sweet 16 again, they can shave years off your appearance and help you stay rejuvenated and fresh.

What are the signs of ageing?

But first, you gotta know what you’re up against.

Ageing is a natural process that is somewhat determined by genetics, but can be expedited if you live a certain lifestyle – hands up those of you who smoke like a chimney or who forgets to put sunblock when you’re out. This results in skin that becomes rough, dull, thin and uneven. Sometimes, brown spots, broken capillaries or even wrinkles can appear. [2] 

Don’t laugh too hard. Photo by Azamat Kinzhitayev on Unsplash

Even having animated expressions can quicken the years on your face. This is in the form of laugh lines or fine lines near your eyes if you’re always in LOL mode, or forehead creases if frowning is your default. Women tend to age first at our eyes, since our under-eye skin is one of the thinnest parts of our skin. As we age, skin laxity increases and pesky crow’s feet start appearing. 

Also Read: Crow’s feet or laugh lines? Read this if you are 30 years old and above before it’s too late

But the greatest culprit? Gravity. Enter sagging cheeks and chins due to lessened collagen production, or hollowed out eyes that make you look as if you haven’t slept in ages. 

Types of anti-ageing treatments

No matter what sign of ageing you wish to target, there’s a suitable anti-ageing treatment for you. These range widely from invasive to non-invasive treatments, and have differing costs and downtime. Here are the most popular ones:

1. Ultherapy

For those squeamish about invasive surgery, consider Ultherapy, a non-invasive “facelift” treatment that uses ultrasound tech to deliver heat into the skin, thus stimulating collagen and elastin production naturally from within. It is currently the best treatment to achieve a V-shaped face, apart from surgical facelifting. It takes only a few hours, so you can even do it as a lunchtime procedure.

Your surgeon applies numbing cream for about 20 minutes and then uses the Ultherapy handpiece to apply ultrasound waves deep into the skin, at multiple skin depths. This will trigger collagen synthesis and the entire treatment lasts 45 to 90 minutes. Glowy complexion awaits in about 2 to 3 months, and the effects are also relatively long-lasting.

Brand: Ultherapy

Done by: A board-certified aesthetic doctor

Aimed at: V-shaped face, lifting and tightening saggy skin, best for chin and neck area, droopy brows.

Downtime for Ultherapy: None

Estimated Ultherapy cost: From $2,000 to $6,000 for full face. For small upper face areas, around $600

Lasts for: 9 to 18 months

 2. Ultrasound HIFU treatment

Similar to Ultherapy, HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment also uses ultrasound technology to deliver heat into deep layers of the skin to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. However, HIFU is much easier on your wallet, being at about one third the price of Ultherapy! It’s mostly because HIFU technology is considerably older and thus it is unable to deliver heat and ultrasound waves as consistently and precisely as the more advanced Ultherapy.

The process is very similar to Ultherapy. Numbing cream is first applied to the area for 20 minutes for it to take effect. Instead of the Ultherapy handpiece, your aesthetic doctor will use a HIFU machine’s hand-held device instead to deliver ultrasound energy and heat into various parts of your face. There are no injections so the treatment’s pretty much non-invasive. The whole treatment process takes 45 to 90 minutes and the results are gradual due as your skin needs time to produce an increased level of collagen.  

Brands of HIFU technology: Ulthera, Ultraformer 3, HiQueen

Done by: A board-certified aesthetic doctor

Aimed at: Skin laxity to combat ageing, tightening, maintaining youthfulness of skin, wrinkles and frown lines, crow’s feet, face lift, brow lift, eye bag area

Also read: 4 treatments available in Singapore to cure crow’s feet and sure ways to get rid of eye bags for good!

Downtime for HIFU: Hardly any due to its non-invasiveness, but you may experience some redness or tingling sensation right after the treatment on that day. 

Estimated HIFU cost: $300 to $400 per facial area (one-third the cost of its more advanced ultrasound counterpart, Ultherapy)

Lasts for: One to two years

3. Laser resurfacing

If you’re looking for relatively fast results, fractional laser resurfacing can tone up loose, wrinkly skin and eliminate age lines. The laser treatment involves burning older surface skin so that the skin is stimulated to produce more collagen and regenerate new skin. This results in smoother and more youthful skin.

Brands of fractional lasers: Pico

Done by: A board-certified aesthetic doctor

Aimed at: Toning and tightening, maintaining skin youthfulness to combat ageing, dark eye circles

Downtime for fractional laser treatment: 1 to 2 days as you may experience redness and swelling of skin. 

Estimated cost of laser treatment: From $800

Lasts for: Two to three years 

4. Dermal fillers

Photo by prostooleh from Freepik

Dermal fillers involve injecting hyaluronic acid or other gel like substances into various facial sites to add definition to features and add volume in spots that might have gotten sunken with age. The most popular filler of them all – hyaluronic fillers – are made of a natural occurring sugar molecule found in our bodies, giving our skin the extra boost in moisture within, resulting in the outlook of plumper skin immediately. [3]

Also read: Dermal fillers in Singapore: A first-timer’s guide.

A numbing cream is first applied to the area so that the injection will be painless. Your aesthetic doctor will then inject the hyaluronic filler into the targeted facial area. The whole thing takes only about 10 to 15 minutes and it works like a charm to give you dewy, radiant skin almost instantaneously – that’s why some girlfriends swear by this beauty regime, especially before special occasions and events, like your wedding.

Brands of HSA-approved fillers: Juvederm, Restylane, Captique, Hylaform. Warning: Please only use HSA-approved brands of fillers; unknown brands of fillers may be much cheaper, but can also make your skin much worse off than before – you really don’t know if it’s really hyaluronic acid they’re injecting into your face and the product is most probably unlicensed and have not gone through rigorous clinical trials and testing before use.

Done by: A board-certified aesthetic doctor (Please do NOT do fillers at a beauty salon!)

Aimed at: Ageing, saggy skin, sallow and sunken areas such as eye hollows, eye bags, or blunt features

Also read: Is it impossible to get rid of my dark eye circles and eye bags, the honest truth

Downtime for fillers: Hardly any, but you’ll have to take extra care to refrain from exercise and sun exposure for 2 to 3 days.

Estimated fillers cost: $600 to $1,000 per syringe of 1cc of dermal filler. If the price you are quoted is too low, relook at the clinic and the product you’re getting. Make sure you’re getting your filler injection at a reputable aesthetic clinic and that you’re getting a fresh syringe of a HSA-approved brand of filler.

Lasts for: 6 months to a year

5. Threadlift

Want a facelift but don’t want major surgery? Opt for a threadlift instead, which uses absorbable sutures to act as a support and lift skin. These threads are inserted deep into facial tissue, and collagen is produced around it for a lifted effect. Mostly suited for women who show very visible signs of skin ageing. 

The face is first numbed with topical cream before your surgeon inserts threads through a micro-needle, expertly shaping facial tissue by hand manually for the desired lifting effect.The threads then dissolves gradually over time and are not harmful to the body. The entire process only takes 30 minutes. Results are relatively instant, but more apparent 4 to 6 months after.

Done by: A board-certified aesthetic doctor

Aimed at: Firming and lifting skin, also for the neck area

Downtime for threadlift: 1 to 2 days, swelling possible

Estimated threadlift cost: From $1,500, depending on area 

Lasts for: 18 months to a few years

6. Botox

Photo by nensura from Freepik

Botox has a rep for giving a slight “frozen” expression after treatment, and that’s because it involves injecting a small dose of neurotoxins to paralyse facial muscles. This minimises muscle contractions that lead to wrinkles and fine lines. 

Your surgeon first applies topical cream to numb the area before injecting Botox directly into specific facial muscles which are responsible for high levels of movement, causing wrinkles to form. It takes a few days for these muscles to relax, allowing your skin to appear smoother.

Done by: A board-certified aesthetic doctor

Aimed at: Reducing lines and wrinkles at eye, brow and forehead area, also to define jaw

Downtime for Botox: None, just don’t rub your skin and aggravate facial muscles

Estimated Botox cost: From $150 to $250 per shot of Botox

Lasts for: 4 to 6 months; after which, you’ll need to get another Botox shot to achieve the same effects

7. Chemical Peels

This is sort of like “peeling off” and exfoliating your outer layer of skin – the tired-looking, uneven layer – to reveal the younger skin within. Using acid in carefully measured amounts to remove the outermost skin layer, peels can also remove pigmentation spots that’s common among older women. Collagen will also be stimulated in the long run.

Common chemical facial peels include glycolic acid peels, lactic acid peels, trichloroacetic acid peels and salicylic acid peels. They range from light, superficial peels to medium ones to deep chemical peels. The goal is to remove damaged outermost skin, allowing the skin to regenerate and heal. Results can be instant or take effect a few days to 1 week after.

Done by: A board-certified aesthetic doctor

Aimed at: Improving skin tone and texture, removing spots and damaged skin

Downtime for chemical peels: 2 to 3 days for superficial peels; deep peels need 2 to 3 weeks of recovery

Estimated chemical peel cost: From $300 per session

Lasts for: One to two years 

8. Microdermabrasion

Remember that facial scrub you used to remove gunk when cleansing your face? Think of microdermabrasion as a more intensive level of that. This non-invasive treatment uses either a textured wand or small exfoliating crystals to remove surface dead skin and can be completed in less than an hour.  

Done by: A board-certified aesthetic doctor

Aimed at: Refining skin and removing flakes and uneven bumps

Downtime for microdermabrasion: None

Estimated microdermabrasion cost: From $100 per session

Lasts for: One month

With so many anti-ageing treatments around due to med tech advancements, you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can try these treatments from as early as your 30s, and adopt a mix of invasive and non-invasive treatments to get a holistic treatment for problem areas.  

Remember – always consult your doctor to find out which anti-ageing treatment suits you and your lifestyle the best, and you’ll be surprised at how much younger you can look.


[1] Zhang, S., Duan, E. (2018). Fighting against Skin Aging. Cell Transplantation. 2018;27(5):729-738. doi:10.1177/0963689717725755

[2] Elmarzugi, N. A., Keleb, E. I., Mohamed, A. T., Issa, Y. S., Hamza, A. M., Layla, A. A., Salama, M., Bentaleb, A. M. (2013). The Relation between Sunscreen and Skin Pathochanges Mini Review. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science Invention ISSN (Online): 2319 – 6718, Volume 2 Issue 7, pp: 43-52

[3] Liu, K. (2019). Dermal fillers: The good, the bad, and the dangerous. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/dermal-fillers-the-good-the-bad-and-the-dangerous-2019071517234

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