Face

Acne

Acne vulgaris is one of the most common skin conditions in Singapore. It predominantly affects adolescents and young adults, and affects as many as 80% of teenagers in Singapore.

Commonly referred to as ‘pimples’ or ‘zits’, its associated negative impact on our physical image often leads to much psychological distress.

Although most cases of acne occur during puberty, adult-onset acne is not uncommon. Adult-onset acne is more prevalent among females, with twelve percent of women with acne at age 25 years, and five percent of women with acne at age 45 years.

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Our Doctors

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Dr. SK Tan

Special Interest

  • Hyper-pigmentation
  • Anti-Aging
  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Ingredient Studies

Dr. SK Tan

Dr Tan graduated in 1971, with a Bachelors of Medicine (MB) and a Bachelors of Surgery (BS) from the University of Malaya. Dr Tan’s interest in dermatology led him to train at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London in the 1970s and he has since been focused in the field of aesthetic dermatology.

  • MBBS
  • Diploma in Venereology (University of London)
  • Diploma in Dermatology (University of Wales)
  • Diploma in Cosmetic Science (UK)
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (FAAD)

He is a member of numerous medical associations, including the American Academy of Dermatology, the International Society of Cosmetic Laser Surgeons, and the International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology. Dr Tan was one of the first local doctors to be certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine. His personal interest in pigmentary disorders and acne has also led him to become an International Member of the Pigmentary Disorders Society of India, the Asian Society of Pigment Cell Research, and the American Acne and Rosacea Society (AARS).

Dr Tan’s work has led him to be invited to speak at numerous international conferences in the US, Europe and throughout the Asia Pacific region. He is a co-editor of “Handbook of Cosmetic Microbiology”, a reference book published by Marcel Dekker, and his papers have been published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, International Journal of Dermatology, Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, and Expert Review of Dermatology, and has contributed a chapter in the reference book ‘Pigmentary Disorders: A Comprehensive Compendium’.

Special Interest

  • Hyper-pigmentation
  • Anti-Aging
  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Ingredient Studies
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Dr. Ben Yim

Special Interest

  • Anti-aging
  • Hyper-pigmentation
  • Body-Contouring
  • Fat Reduction

Dr. Ben Yim

Dr Yim graduated from Monash University in Australia with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree. He has also earned a Master of Science in Clinical Dermatology from the University of London and more recently in Non-Surgical Facial Aesthetics from Anglia Ruskin University in UK, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Family Physicians in National University of Singapore.

  • M.B.B.S (Monash University) 1994
  • Diploma Practical Dermatology (University of Wales College of Medicine) 1998
  • MSc. Clinical Dermatology (University of London) 1999
  • MBA (University of Chicago) 2011
  • MSc Non-Surgical Facial Aesthetics (Anglia Ruskin) 2018
  • GDFM (NUS) 2019

Dr Yim has been practicing aesthetic medicine in private practice since 2000. The former director of Clinical Aesthetics & Laser Centre has been offering a wide armamentarium of aesthetic services including Botox, fillers for facial enhancement, skin tightening with Thermage FLX, Ulthera and fractional lasers, threadlifts, and non-invasive body contouring treatments.

As a trainer for Allergan Medical Institute in Singapore, Dr Yim has been invited to speak and train for numerous aesthetic workshops and conferences including “The Advanced Facial Anatomy and Injectables Workshop”, Botox and Filler injectable training workshops organized by Allergan, “The Singapore Disease Conference 2008” and “1st International Conference on Healthcare Transformation 2008” and Forum for Professional Self-regulation jointly organized by the SingHealth Centre for Health Services Research and the NUS Medical Society, to name a few.

Dr Yim comes from a family of four doctors, all in private practice in family medicine. Despite the move into full-time aesthetic medicine, Dr Yim has also taken an interest in family medicine pursuing a Master degree in Medicine in Family Medicine in NUS in which he hopes to complete in 2020.

Outside of his profession, Dr Yim also actively participates in social projects such as tattoo laser removal for prison inmates and teenage delinquents. For leisure, he enjoys golf, reading, playing the piano and running – he has participated in several half-marathons.

Special Interest

  • Anti-aging
  • Hyper-pigmentation
  • Body-Contouring
  • Fat Reduction
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Dr. Liz Lum YX

Special Interest

  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Fillers
  • Neurotoxin Injection - Botox
  • Face Lifting
  • Facial Slimming and Contouring

Dr. Liz Lum YX

Dr Liz Lum YX graduated from Trinity College in Dublin with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree. She has also earned a graduate diploma in aesthetic medicine with the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine (AAAM). Apart from these, Dr Lum has also attained certification by the Ministry of Health accredited bodies under the Singapore Medical Council’s Aesthetics Dermatology Education Group for various aesthetics procedures. Before joining IDS, Dr Liz Lum YX was a surgical trainee with the hand surgery department in SGH.

  • MBBCH BAO (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Diploma in Aesthetic Medicine, American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine
  • Accredited by the Aesthetic Practice Oversight Committee (Singapore Medical Council) for Certificates of Competence in Aesthetic Procedures
  • Diploma in Cosmetic Science (UK)

Jean Cocteau once said, “If there is a defect in the soul, it cannot be corrected on the face; but if there is a defect on the face and one corrects it, it can correct a soul.” For this reason, Dr Liz Lum YX has a special interest in acne treatment that dates back to times when she had to deal with her own acne problems and breakouts. This drove her to identify the need for innovative products and treatments to treat acne problems. She strongly believes that many acne prone patients will benefit from a combination of innovative dermatological products, lasers and medications.

Dr Liz Lum YX’s other interests include injectables such as botulinum toxins, fillers and laser treatments for pigmentary disorders. Outside of her profession, she enjoys travelling and spending quality time with her family, friends and loved ones over good meals, movies, and a cup of coffee.

Special Interest

  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Fillers
  • Neurotoxin Injection - Botox
  • Face Lifting
  • Facial Slimming and Contouring
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Dr. Ian Tan

Special Interest

  • Acne
  • Anti-Aging
  • Body Contouring
  • Face Lifting
  • Facial Slimming and Contouring
  • Hair Regrowth
  • Weight Management

Dr. Ian Tan

Dr Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore and is one of the few medical doctors selected to lead the Singapore National Healthcare Group surgical residency program. He had his basic years of training in various hospital surgical specialties and he obtained Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (General Surgery) in 2013.

  • MBBS (Singapore)
  • MRCS (Edinburgh)
  • GDFM (Singapore)
  • GDFP Dermatology (Singapore)
  • Certificate in Aesthetic Medicine, Amercian Academy of Aesthetic Medicine
  • Accredited by the Aesthetic Practice Oversight Committee (Singapore Medical Council) for Certificates of Competence in Aesthetic Procedures
  • Diploma in Cosmetic Science (UK)
  • Accredited Family Physician
  • Basic Obesity Management Accreditation 2 (BOMA 2)
  • Certificate Course in Andrology

Through his practice, he developed a keen clinical interest in dermatological conditions and has obtained a Diploma in Dermatology (FP) from NUS. Dr Tan aims to help his patients achieve beauty through science by using appropriate skincare, aesthetic procedures and lasers. He believes his experience in surgery will complement his work in aesthetic and dermatological procedures at the IDS clinic.

A former national, Dr Tan was an avid athlete during his college days and developed him in local and regional canoe competitions. Outside of his profession, he enjoys running and going to the gym.

Special Interest

  • Acne
  • Anti-Aging
  • Body Contouring
  • Face Lifting
  • Facial Slimming and Contouring
  • Hair Regrowth
  • Weight Management
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Dr. Michelle Wong

Special Interest

  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Focused Ultrasound Lifting
  • Skin Brightening
  • Cryo based Treatment

Dr. Michelle Wong

Dr Michelle Wong graduated from The University of Melbourne, Australia with a Bachelors of Medicine, Bachelors of Surgery and Bachelors of Medical Science. She obtained her post-graduate Diploma in Clinical Dermatology with Distinction from the Queen Mary University of London, and holds a Diploma in Aesthetic Medicine with the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine (AAAM).

  • MBBS from The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Diploma in Clinical Dermatology from Queen Mary University of London
  • Diploma in Aesthetics Medicine from American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine
  • Diploma in Cosmetic Science (UK)

In aesthetics, Dr Wong believes she has discovered her ikigai – the intersection of what she is both good at and loves doing. Her preferred tools of the trade are injectables such as Botox and Fillers, which she wields with finesse and intuition - often achieving what her patients desire but cannot express through words. Out of passion and interest, she regularly attends conferences and workshops, eager to learn about the latest treatments and techniques to further hone her craft.

Combining the science of medicine with the art of beauty, Dr Wong provides an honest consult to help her patients achieve their skincare and beauty goals. She believes in understated elegance – a focus on a less-is-more approach - and works to enhance her patients’ natural features whilst instilling self-confidence. Her reassuring and gentle approach puts patients at ease allowing her to achieve maximum results through safe and effective procedures.

In her free time, Dr Wong enjoys taking long walks with her dog at the park. Her family praises her inner domestic goddess that can whip up an impressive variety of home-cooked meals. She is also active in church medical missions and believes in contributing back to society through her God-given gifts and talents.

Special Interest

  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Focused Ultrasound Lifting
  • Skin Brightening
  • Cryo based Treatment
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Dr. Vivian Yong

Special Interest

  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Fillers
  • Neurotoxin Injection - Botox
  • Face Lifting
  • Facial Enhancement

Dr. Vivian Yong

Dr Vivian Yong graduated from National University of Singapore in 2006, and has an experience of more than 10 years in Aesthetics. She has also accumulated extensive surgical skills and experience from various rotations in general surgery, ophthalmology, and ENT.

  • MBBS
  • GDFM

Dr Vivian has always had a natural inclination towards science subjects and this led her into medicine. During her medical graduate days, she developed a keen interest in Aesthetics and Skincare, and she believes that Aesthetics is one area that allows her to help a patient achieve their ideal artistic expression based on science. While Dr Vivian is always keen to accommodate her patients’ needs, she ensures that their welfare remains the utmost priority. This is why Dr Vivian is loved by her patients for always being meticulous and attentive to details.

Dr Vivian’s eye for beauty goes beyond aesthetics. Outside the clinic, Dr Vivian loves to spend her time in leather crafting and jewelry making, transforming basics into beauty. She also loves spending her quiet time exercising in the gym or chilling at home with her loved one.

Special Interest

  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Fillers
  • Neurotoxin Injection - Botox
  • Face Lifting
  • Facial Enhancement
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Dr. Lina Yow

Special Interest

  • Anti-aging
  • Acne and Acne Scarring
  • Skin Rejuvenation
  • Facial Lifting and Contouring

Dr. Lina Yow

  • MBBCH BAO
  • MRCS (Edinburgh)
  • Masters in Surgical Science
  • Diploma in Dermatology

Dr Yow graduated from Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom, with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree. In addition, she has a Masters in Surgical Science from the University of Edinburgh and a membership from the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh). She underwent her initial years of surgical training in the United Kingdom before returning to Singapore in 2020.

Over the years, Dr Yow developed a growing interest in medical aesthetics as it is a fine art marrying science and clinical acumen to achieve a patient’s aesthetic goal. To further her knowledge and skills, she is constantly further educating herself and is also currently pursuing a diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff University, United Kingdom.

Dr Yow believes in the importance of an equal doctor-patient partnership. She aims to provide informed clinical knowledge to guide her patients to reach an optimal shared goal and achieve a more confident version of themselves. Her attention to detail and friendly manner led her to receive the Singapore Health Quality Service Award during her time in the public hospital, recognizing the high quality of care she has provided to her patients.

In her free time, Dr Yow enjoys spending quality time with her family. She also loves the outdoors and was previously part of her university rowing team. She keeps up her enjoyment of fitness through regular strength training, spin, and pilates.

Special Interest

  • Anti-aging
  • Acne and Acne Scarring
  • Skin Rejuvenation
  • Facial Lifting and Contouring
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Causes of Acne

There are four main factors that lead to the development of acne.

  • The presence of Cutibacterium acnes (C acnes) in the sebaceous follicle
  • Androgen-mediated increase in sebum production
  • Keratinocyte hyperproliferation in the follicle
  • Inflammation

Other risk factors for acne include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Psychological stress
  • Hormonal factors (eg. polycystic ovaries, puberty & pregnancy)
  • Medications (eg. topical corticosteroids, anti-epileptics)
  • Dairy and high glycemic index diets

Acne Treatments

Acne Treatments

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments are prescribed for mild acne on the face. Combinations can be used for its synergistic action. Treatment is for at least 6 months. Improvement is gradual and incremental over the 6 months. Depending on the type of acne(comedonal vs. inflammatory), our doctors will prescribe the appropriate topical treatment.

  • Retinoids, e.g. tretinoin, adapalene

  • Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO)

  • Antibiotics, e.g. clindamycin, erythromycin

Oral Medication

When the acne condition is deemed moderate to severe, our doctors can add oral medication to the treatment. Truncal acne is usually treated with a long course of oral medication. Oral medication is usually for a period of 6 months or longer.

  • Oral antibiotics:
    Systemic antibiotics are a first-line treatment of moderate-to-severe inflammatory acne vulgaris. These agents have anti-inflammatory properties, and they are effective against C acnes. There are several types of antibiotics indicated for acne treatment. Each has a different side-effect profile and resistance profile to C acne. Our doctors will prescribe after careful assessment of our patients.

  • Oral contraceptives:
    These are combinations of hormones to prevent ovulation. Because of their anti-androgenic effect, they are usually prescribed when the patient wishes contraception and has signs of excess androgen (eg. acne, hair growth on the face and body). They take at least 6 months to treat the acne.

  • Oral isotretinoin:
    Usually used as second-line treatment for acne when other oral treatments fail. It is very effective in the treatment of acne and if given the correct total dosage, can prevent the condition from relapsing. However, there are several side-effects of this medication. Oral retinoids like Isotretinoin (Acnotin, Roaccutane, Oratane) a derivative of vitamin A, work extremely well. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and can reduce oil secretion by 90% within six weeks of treatment, and reduce whiteheads and blackheads by 90% within three months.

Oral Medication Side Effects

  • Teratogenic (potential to cause deformities in foetus if taken during pregnancy). Therefore patients need to avoid pregnancy for 1 month after stopping the medication

  • Dry skin and mucous membrane(mouth, nose and eyes)

  • Photosensitive(more prone to sunburn under prolonged exposure to the sun)

  • Muscle aches

  • Temporary hair loss.

In-Clinic Procedures

  • Cortisone Injections:
    Intralesional corticosteroid injection, or steroid shots, are used for treating inflammation, to help shrink large acne cysts or deep nodules. A very dilute corticosteroid is injected directly into the pimple – this quickly reduces inflammation, flattens and heals the breakout in just a few days.

  • Laser Therapy:
    For more stubborn cases of acne, laser therapy using devices such as Aerolase and Nd:YAG lasers are useful in reducing inflammation and the number of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. Light therapy with LED light is also beneficial. Studies show that lasers and other light treatments can reduce acne but these treatments alone can rarely clear acne. For best results, multiple treatments as well as multi-modality treatments, such as in conjunction with topical and/or oral medicine may be recommended.

  • Broadband Light (BBL):
    This is an acne treatment that uses the power of light to comfortably and effectively clear acne (in teenagers and adults). An advanced form of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), blue BBL light eliminates acne-causing bacteria at its source. Deep down in the pores, yellow BBL light reduces the inflammation and acne-associated redness to give you healthy, luminous skin. Finally, infrared light in rapid, gentle pulses help to initiate the body’s natural healing process.

Facial Treatments

To keep acne flares under control, regular aesthetic facial treatments may help one to manage and maintain acne outbreaks. This clarifying facial treatment combines ultrasonic deep cleansing and extractions to help clear clogged pores and comedones, along with IPL and a clay mask to calm and soothe inflamed skin.

Is your acne affecting your quality of life? Consult our doctors for an accurate diagnosis of your condition and a suitable treatment plan.

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    Acne Myths

    Myth: Cosmetic make-up, powder, sunscreens and dirt will block pores

    Fact: Comedogenic cosmetic ingredients and products stimulate sebaceous gland activity, and lead to excess sebum production. This in turn blocks the follicles (pores) and leads to acne. It is a myth that follicles can be occluded from the exterior skin surface by cosmetic “impurities”.

    Myth: Fried, spicy or oily food cause the skin to be oily and trigger acne breakouts.

    Fact: Current research has not shown any correlation between consuming fried, spicy and oily food and acne. However, there is increasing evidence to show that consumption of dairy products (e.g. milk, cheese, butter) and high glycemic index food (e.g. starchy food, sugary drinks) cause acne breakouts. Whey protein consumed by athletes and bodybuilders are also associated with acne.

    Myth: Only teenagers get acne.

    Fact: Acne is most common in teenagers but an increasing number of adults, especially women, can get acne breakouts at any age. It has been observed that adult women aged late 30’s and early 40’s are more prone to acne.

    Myth: Squeezing pimples yourself is the best way to get rid of them.

    Fact: Scarring can occur even in mild cases of acne. This is due to the resultant damage to surrounding skin tissues from the inflammation. Squeezing or picking at pimples may cause more inflammation and hence more skin damage. However, the ‘pattern’ of acne scarring appears to be individual and may be genetically determined.

    Myth: Getting a tan helps acne.

    Fact: Some believe that getting a tan helps acne. A sunburn will only irritate the skin and lead to increased acne or cause post inflammatory hyperpigmentation(PIH) or blemishes that will take a long while to heal.