Aesthetic procedures still a taboo subject

  • Health
  • Sunday, 06 Apr 2014

You won’t believe the lengths clients go through to hide the fact that they have had an aesthetic procedure carried out.

IN South Korea, parents would gladly pay for their children’s nose or boob job as their 18th birthday present.

In Brazil, Venezuela and even Thailand, people would boast that they have had such and such a procedure done. Being able to afford an expensive aesthetic or plastic surgery procedure means you’re keeping up with the times and up there on the social and economic ladder.

Not so in Malaysia. While the number of aesthetic procedures performed in the country has grown tremendously amongst male and female Malaysians of various races and age groups, it still seems to be a taboo to say that you’ve actually ventured into an aesthetic doctor’s office and signed up for something.

When I tell my new acquaintances that I have had Botulinum toxin, fillers, skin peels, lasers and liposuction done, their jaws drop and eyes pop out as if I’ve suddenly sprouted another pair of heads on my shoulders.

It’s obvious that widespread acceptance of aesthetic procedure amongst Malaysians is still lacking. This is perpetuated by the numerous misconceptions and myths regarding aesthetic procedures, its side effects and safety.

When talking about Botulinum toxin or face lifts, names of certain local artistes or minister’s wives would surely be mentioned, followed by giggles and an occasional guffaw.

The conversation tends to veer into “You know ahh, her face is so expressionless, she looks like a robot!” or “She looks like a mannequin on the display window of Uniqlo!”

It is for these reasons that many of our aesthetic clients go to extreme lengths to hide the fact that they have had an aesthetic procedure done.

Some of our procedures such as Botulinum toxin injection, skin peel, microdermabrasion or lasers may result in some mild bruising or swelling, which will usually subside in a couple of days.

The busiest day for our clinic, or any aesthetic clinic for that matter, would naturally be Fridays and Saturdays.

This is because most clients prefer to rest and recover over the weekend before going back to work on Monday.

Hopefully, most of the redness or swelling would have subsided by then.

Some clients use concealer or thick make-up to try to hide the temporary side effects of their aesthetic procedure.

Not all bruising or swelling can be thoroughly hidden by make-up though, so a common excuse that our clients give to their family members, friends or co-workers to explain their beaten-up look is that they have had a fall or absent-mindedly knocked into something.

I have a 20-something-year-old client who stays with her mother in the Klang Valley, within easy reach of our clinic.

Each time she wants to come to our clinic, she will book a few nights’ stay at a hotel in town and tell her mother that she would be working outstation for the next couple of days.

She would stay in the hotel while waiting for the tell-tale side effects to go off before going back to her mother.

One client likes having fillers and laser done every few months. It seems her husband is rather unhappy with the amount of money she spends “beautifying” herself. Thus, she will wait for him to go on long outstation work trips before coming to our clinic.

There was once she had some laser work done while her husband was away. She had some redness on her face due to the procedure, which was expected and absolutely normal, and would subside in less than a week.

Unfortunately, for some reason, her dearest hubby cut his work trip short and came back much earlier than expected, to find her face resembling a ripe tomato. Our quick-thinking lady blurted out that she had a sunburn from too much swimming.

Sunburn just on the face? Yeah, right!

Most clients look much younger or refreshed once we are done with them. Friends or relatives who have not seen them for some time will gush over their fabulous new appearance.

Instead of complimenting yours truly for a job well done, our clients would rather say that their glowing skin is thanks to that fabulous, relaxing vacation they had in Bali.

Or that their new taut, flawless face is due to that magical jar of youth serum they recently purchased from Isetan.

To admit that they have had a laser or two, or a few jabs of Botulinum toxin would a big social gaffe, they reason.

I hope that our fellow Malaysians will have a change in their mentality and accept aesthetic procedures as a normal, everyday thing, and a part of modern lifestyle.

But I don’t see that coming in the near future. For the sake of aesthetic doctors in Malaysia, I hope that I’m wrong.

Dr Chen Tai Ho is an experienced aesthetic doctor who chills by the pool sipping expresso latte when he’s not attending to his beloved patients. For further information, e-mail The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Opinion , Lifestyle , plastic surgery , taboo


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