In this Insider Spotlight, we had the pleasure of interviewing two accomplished aesthetic doctors, Dr Joanna Chan and Dr Toby Hui. With over a decade of experience each in the field of aesthetic medicine, both doctors have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to skin health, body contouring and weight management. Dr Joanna’s post-graduate qualifications in Family Medicine and Dermatology coupled with her expertise in preventive health, make her a sought-after expert in the field. Dr Toby’s interest in aesthetics medicine was sparked by his desire to help patients of all ages to look and feel their best, and he has been doing so since 2005. In this interview, we will delve into their experiences in the field of aesthetics, their passions and what drives them to be the best at what they do at Freia Medical.

Interview with Dr. Joanna Chan and Dr. Toby Hui

What does being an aesthetic doctor mean to you?

I often liken my work to lapidary – the art and craft of making each gem shine, while working with each gem’s inherent properties and flaws. Aesthetic medicine is viewed holistically in my practice and it is a process of discovering beauty, self-confidence and self-love. This means aesthetic concerns are never one-dimensional; an individual’s physical, psychological and emotional wellness should be considered as well. Journeying with an individual on these concerns is what makes my job as an aesthetic doctor fulfilling.

Whether on a personal, work or social level, I believe that one is only as good as he allows himself to be, and constantly strives to be the best version of myself at all times. Applying the same motto that governs my approach to life to my patients, I often encourage and work closely with them to bring out their very best, realising their full beauty potential without losing their own uniqueness or falling prey to conforming social constraints along the way. I realised that while aging is inevitable, making that journey less rocky by keeping undesirable physical signs of aging in check is now optional, especially with the latest innovations in medical science and advancements in Aesthetics Medicine. Be good to your skin, you wear it everyday for the rest of your life.

What are your plans for Freia Medical in 2023? What are your goals?
I hope to fulfill my role as an aesthetic doctor, as above, for my patients!

Freia Medical is a one-stop aesthetic clinic with special focus on hair restoration and minimally invasive aesthetic treatments for the face and body. For 2023, I would strive to maintain the one simple philosophy that forms the core of Freia’s work ethos since the beginning, and that is to Focus on the patient. This has been the central theme to all we do as a cohesive team to the point of obsession!

In your opinion what sets Freia Medical apart from other clinics in Singapore?

Founded by Dr. Harold Ma in 2006, Freia Medical started out with the humble beginning of a single clinician practice with less than 5 staff. Fast forward to 17 years down the road, with the continual support of both local and international patients, it had grown to become a one-stop aesthetic center with special focus on hair restoration and minimally invasive aesthetic treatments for the face and body. Currently helmed by 3 aesthetics physicians and over 30 dedicated staff, we use only scientifically proven, safe and effective technology and do not condone to practices that are not approved by the Ministry of Health, Singapore. We continually invest and stay updated with the very best that medical technology has to offer. All our procedures are backed by science, and have the required US FDA and Singapore HSA approvals. It is no surprise therefore, that we are known to constantly renew our skills and equipment to ensure that our services are in line with international best practices.

What are the most popular treatments at Freia Medical?

One of Dr. Ma’s deepest passions is in the procedure of hair restoration by hair transplantation and is one of the pioneer practicing physician of this treatment in Singapore. He recalls first learning of the concept of hair transplantation back in 2006 in Europe and was determined to bring this technology and skill back home to Singapore. He has gone on to master the strip (FUT) and the more popular scarless follicular unit extraction (FUE) technique which is performed at the clinic on a daily basis. As for aesthetics procedures for the face and body, we favoured harnessing the merits of combination treatments with synergistic effects for an optimal outcome instead of sticking to a singular modality. For example, to address signs of peri-orbital aging and dark eye circles, I favoured the combination treatment of Neogen Plasma Eyelift and Rejuran I microinjections. Instead of relying solely on Botox or dermal filler to turn back time, energy based devices such as Ulthera and Sofwave combined with collagen biostimulators the likes of Profhilo and Ellanse are frequently done in stages with a customised program tailored to suit each individual’s needs.

What is the most common misconception regarding aesthetic treatments that you often have to debunk?

That once you start doing aesthetic treatments you cannot stop, or else your face will fall apart. The truth is, if you treat your skin holistically with safe and effective procedures, facials and good skincare, you get to enjoy healthy skin for a longer period of time.

Many people are seeking treatments to fix their melasma, hyperpigmentation, and other dark spots on their skin mainly caused by sun exposure and acne. What treatment would you recommend?

For starters, I would recommend seeking a proper consultation with an aesthetic doctor. This is because skin conditions such as melasma, hyperpigmentation and other dark spots can overlap and/or look similar and the first step would be obtaining a proper medical diagnosis. Thereafter, your doctor should formulate a plan for you to improve your skin health. This often starts with the use of medications and creams you may need to take or apply at home – I tend to stress that patients have to be compliant with the treatments we recommend at home too, as what we do on a daily basis does have a cumulative effect on our skin conditions. At the doctor’s clinic, some of the common treatments I do for these conditions include the use of energy-based devices such as pigmentation lasers, radiofrequency devices and ultrasound machines. I often add in treatments to deliver nutrients and deep hydration to the skin as well; these can be done using a combination of machines and tiny injections to the skin. All in all, these treatments are very tolerable with minimal downtime and a reasonable course of treatment could be in the range of 3-6 months’ duration.

The Fotona StarWalker MaQX is a versatile treatment device, what are some of the skin problems that it can treat?

The Fotona StarWalker MaQX can be used for 3 main categories of skin concerns I see in my practice commonly. Firstly, it targets pigmentation issues such as uneven skin tone, melasma, acne and acne-related pigmentation, sun spots (lentigo), freckles and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from various causes. Secondly, it can be used to refine the skin texture, it helps to improve the appearance of prominent large pores, and can be used for scars such as those caused by acne. Finally, this laser renews the skin as it can stimulate collagen production, hence it is a useful tool in anti-ageing and rejuvenation. Additionally, the Fotona StarWalker MaQX laser can be used for tattoo removal purposes for a variety of inks and colors.

What is the reason that the Fotona StarWalker MaQX was chosen to be the device used at Freia Medical?

The Fotona StarWalker MaQX is a versatile laser indeed. It has high energy capabilities and a wide range of settings to target different conditions and skin types. It combines the benefits of both nanosecond (“Q-switch”) lasers and picosecond lasers, hence delivering the “best of both worlds”. I would say it is one of the most sought-after and commonly used “workhorses” in my stable of machines!

What is one skincare advice that you would give your patients who seek advice to better their skincare routine?

Exfoliate once a day – as we age, nature does need a little help to reveal smoother, refined skin. Daily exfoliation by way of AHAs, BHAs, enzymes will ensure skin is kept well primed and optimally placed to receive the benefits of your serums and creams. Our top picks at Freia are Future Beauty Drops No. 3, Future Heritage Mask, Future Lotion Floral No. 2 and Oumere No. 9 Daily Liquid Exfoliant.

Read your skin – rather than sticking to the same products 365 days a year, adapt your routine according to what your skin needs. When skin is unstable (acne, allergies, erythema), focus on healing and reducing inflammation and use products that help with that. When skin is “normal”, it’s good to “step up” on your routine and push the skin a bit more. You can incorporate slightly higher acids or incorporate retinols.

Skin Cycling – there can be too much of a good thing. While Vitamin C serums or powders, retinols and acids are great to reveal smoother, refined textures, it’s always good to give skin a break or “rest days”. By this, we mean not over-doing exfoliation and alternating the use of these “stronger” ingredients with products that heal, soothe and calm the skin. Exfoliating serums, lotions, masks – when used too frequently (2-3 times a day, 7 days a week), can result in sensitive, weaker skin and for darker skin tones, can also give rise to hyperpigmentation. A good gauge would be to incorporate “rest days” – for example, 2-3 days on more intensive exfoliating and 2-3 days of rest.