Hello my friends! It feels like a really long time since I last posted, although it has only been a week. I am finally back home after 2-weeks in Europe, and after lying awake in bed since 2am, it appears that jet lag is a real thing after all. Since sleep is not returning anytime soon, I figured I should get up and do something useful.
Let me preface this post by letting you know that this is a sponsored post to the extent that all my consultations and treatments were kindly provided by The Clifford Clinic. Although I did not receive any payment for this article nor has this post been shaped, edited or pre-filtered in any way. It is an honest personal reflection on the journey that I’ve been through in the past 5 months, and if you have trouble with adult acne, some of my frustrations and experiences may resonate with you.
I first met Dr Gerard Ee at The Clifford Clinic about 5 months ago, when I decided to undergo a Botox treatment to prevent wrinkles around my eyes [read here]. Shortly after, my skin developed the worst case of acne that I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was not so much a random eruption (as may happen at certain times of the month or due to other lifestyle changing triggers), but a steady descent and despite my many attempts to get things under control via various skincare products, it eventually got to a point where I finally accepted that this is truly a case of adult acne, and not something that will just “go away” with a dab of some magic potion.
At my post-Botox review session, I mentioned my frustrations with the state of my skin to Dr Ee, and asked if there was anything he could do. There was plenty of course, but first, he set me on a course of antibiotics to stop the inflammation and kill the existing zits. Next he reverted my skincare routine to the basics, by which I mean the serious bare-bones stripped-to-a-minimum course. A very sterile-looking benzoyl peroxide cleanser to remove blockages, medicinal Neo-Medrol to kill those zits, and a fragrance- and oil-free moisturizer that only hydrates without any other bells and whistles.
No overnight miracles, to be sure. This is the real life after all. And in fact, my already dehydrated skin got drier, and I cheated with some richer creams, which as with all illicit affairs go ended badly. When I ‘fessed up, Dr Ee very practically laid out some sort of guidelines for choosing products that would help keep my skin hydrated without pushing it over the edge. In essence, lightweight fluid/gel type serums that are oil-free are ok (from my stash, Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel and Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum ), richer textured creams and facial oils are out.
Because I was deathly afraid of retinols, it was some time before Dr Ee finally prescribed me some topical tretinoin cream; but once I got started I experienced the ultimate epiphany – OMG why on earth did I wait so long?!?!? Within days, the texture of my skin improved visibly, and the number and sizes of my zits decreased dramatically. Note to self: always trust your doctor!! I do appreciate Dr Ee’s patience with me though, he recommended a course of action but never pushed me to do anything I was not comfortable with.
Now that the acne is finally under control, we had another more problematic matter to deal with – those horrible scars. People often ask me about whitening/spot-removing skincare products, and whilst there are many I will happily recommend to lessen the appearance of pigmentation and maybe even prevent sun spots from forming; the hard truth is that none of them will erase acne scars completely and reset my skin to base zero.
When Dr Ee recommended laser I rejected the notion right away. My pre-historic mind kept having flashbacks of “burnt” skin, and the idea of voluntarily abrading my skin just seemed unnecessarily risky to me. Also, I know my skin takes longer than average to recover, and I cannot deal with downtime, not even a weekend. But over the course of our discussions, Dr Ee opened my eyes to other forms of modern laser treatments that are non-ablative, and in fact do not involve resurfacing. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
I started on my first Q-Switch session on a tiny leap of confidence, with the promises that it is relatively painless and involves zero downtime. And I was relatively happy to find that it really is one of those treatments that you can do during your lunch hour and still pop back to work without anybody knowing. It works by delivering a high intensity laser broken down into nanosecond pulses, allowing it to be very targeted. This high energy pulse is absorbed by the spots on the skin, breaking them down into tiny particles that can be naturally cleared by the body’s lymphatic system.
The session begins by first removing all my makeup, and then I lie back on a comfortable reclining armchair, put on protective eye googles, and it’s rock and roll. As Dr Ee moves the hand device across my face, I can feel tiny pulses zapping at my skin. It can be disconcerting initially, but it is merely like tight rubber band snapping against the skin, completely tolerable. With multiple passes on especially sensitised skin, it can get uncomfortable, at which point I will simply let out a squeak and Dr Ee will just move on. The entire session takes no more than 10 minutes, and did not leave my face looking red/swollen or any of the dreaded side effects that had plagued my mind. I did notice a singed smell though, but that was from facial hair being burnt off which is a nice perk in my opinion. A quick rinse with cool water and then reapplication of my skincare (don’t forget sunscreen!) took the smell away.
Nothing speaks louder than some before and after comparison photos, so here goes:
These pictures were taken first before my 2nd session and again after my 5th session, which effectively reflects the results after 3 sessions (because it takes time for the results to show after each session). It also demonstrates clearly that my skin doesn’t look any worse for wear after the session and is good to go back for work! Please feel free to click on the images to zoom in for a closer comparison.
The results would have been much better if my skin was much more stable and not having fresh breakouts in between, but this is the real life anyway, and as I mentioned above, it took me a long time to start on the tretinoin cream and I was not very diligent with my course of antibiotics. But hopefully the comparison images gave you a good sense of the improvement in my acne scars and even my pores look smaller! The persistent marks will take more treatments to completely remove, but already I am much more confident to go out bare-faced now than I have ever been!
The road to a perfect complexion is a long one, and I have no illusions that some curve ball will come along to throw things off course again. But I am really glad that my acne problem is finally under control, and my skin is looking better now than it was before! Cliched as it may sound, I am personally grateful to Dr Ee for helping me along on this journey. Every time I experienced a new problem, he was able to accurately diagnose it (for example, even as a sufferer of acute dermatitis all my life, I never knew there were so many different types of dermatitis each requiring a different kind of treatment!) and fix it quickly. I love that The Clifford Clinic is conveniently located right in the middle of the CBD, ground floor of Clifford Center at Raffles Place, and it is so easy to pop in whenever I need help (and then grab lunch at my favourite chicken rice store in the next building!). Since I started on my treatments, friends have noticed my skin improving, and I am also much less stressed out. So, if there is anything plaguing you, there is definitely things that you can do about it! You may want to consult with Dr Ee at The Clifford Clinic or whomever you’re most comfortable with, it is entirely your choice. And your doctor may recommend a similar course of approach as mine did, or something completely different based on your skin’s needs. Whatever the case may be, I hope our skin gets better and better throughout this year!
This post featured services that were kindly rendered free of charge by The Clifford Clinic. Regardless, all opinions expressed here are my own honest, unbiased views.