Where skincare products seem to resolve too slowly, aesthetics treatments seem to promise a faster and more obvious results. This is probably why non-invasive aesthetics treatments like IPL, botulinum toxin (more commonly known as Botox injections), fillers, Ultherapy, and Thermage are especially popular because of their no-knife and quick-fix appeal. Read on to find out more about these treatments, and whether you’re suitable for them.

1. Skin Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment

What is this and how is treatment like?
Skin IPL is one of the most versatile non-invasive treatments. Generally, the IPL machine emits multiple length light waves to treat four skin concerns:

  • Acne: IPL can tackle those spots, breakouts, or congested pores on your face, chest, and back. The light waves destroy acne-causing bacteria in your pores. IPL is suitable for moderate inflammatory acne.
  • Pigmentation: Age or excessive exposure to light may lead to pigmentation. The light waves from the IPL breaks up the dark spots/pigmentation by first lifting it to the surface. Over treatments, the light waves will then lighten the pigments.
  • Visible veins (red veins/thread veins/spider veins): These may appear across your nose and cheek area. IPL will shrink those veins and make them less visible.
  • Anti-aging: With age comes fine lines, wrinkles etc. IPL promotes collagen production, keeping your skin plump and firm. There will be a visible reduction in wrinkles and fine lines over treatments.

Read about our editor’s pain-free IPL experience!

Are you suitable?

IPL is generally suitable for most. To test if your skin is suitable for IPL, the practitioner will usually do a patch test during your consultation and observe its effects.

IPL for pigmentation is more suitable for those with lighter skin tones. IPL for visible vein reduction is suitable for those with fair to lightly tanned skin, but not suitable for those with darker skin.

Common side effects? 

Your skin might appear a little red or flushed immediately after the treatment, but this subsides quite quickly. When the light pulses “hit” your face, you might experience it as a gentle flick.

2. Botulinum toxin injections

What is this and how is treatment like?
Botulinum toxin, commonly known simply as “Botox”, is a drug made from a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It reduces fine lines and wrinkles by paralysing the underlying muscles. Treatment involves diluting the powder of Botulinum toxin in saline, then injecting it into the neuromuscular tissue. It takes 24-72 hours for the full effect to take place, and effect can last up to three months.

Botox can also give you a sharper face shape. It relaxes your jaw muscle so it will appear smaller, giving you a more defined jaw contour.

Are you suitable?
You’re not suitable if you’re pregnant or lactating, or if you have a previous allergy to botulinum toxin.

Common side effects? 
There are generally minimal side effects, but it depends on the individual. Possible side effects might include headaches, migraines, bleeding, transient numbness, mild pain, bruising, flu-light symptoms etc. Also, if you do botox injections too often, your body might develop a resistance to the treatment.

3. Dermal fillers

lip fillers

What is this and how is treatment like?
Dermal fillers are injections that fill out deep lines, wrinkles, and creases in the skin. They thus help you achieve younger looking skin by “plumping” up your skin. The treatment involves a series of small injections followed by gentle massages to the target area. Some treatments involve a local anaesthetic cream or injection. Fillers can also be injected at the lips to plump up their appearance, or at the nose to make it look higher.

Are you suitable?

You should speak to your practitioner prior to treatment if you’re currently on medication, if you have immuno-diseases/allergies, if you’ve previously had other aesthetics treatments, or if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

Common side effects? 
There is generally little down time for dermal fillers. The target area might be swollen and/or tender for 24 hours. During this time, you should avoid coffee, alcohol, hot drinks, and the sun. Other problems/risks include rashes and bruising, and the filler might shift from its intended position.

DV Tip: There are dermal fillers of different materials and the effects range from temporary to semi-permanent/permanent. Consult a practitioner for the kind of filler that you want. Permanent filters have the highest risk of side effects.

4. Ultherapy

What is this and how is treatment like?

Ultherapy, a.k.a. “The Lunchtime Lift” by Harper’s Bazzar U.S. (for literal reasons),  is the world’s only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared ultrasound procedure. It is a non-surgical and non-invasive treatment that uses ultrasound energy to lift and tighten skin with minimal or zero downtime.

The device will be used over the target area to deliver the ultrasound energy. This energy heats your skin tissue at multiple depths, triggering collagen production in the skin’s foundation. Ultherapy differs from laser treatments; light energy from lasers cannot reach deep into your skin and therefore only treat superficial skin.

Are you suitable?
You’re suitable if you’re not quite ready for surgical facelift, but want to lift and tighten skin on your neck, chin, and brows. You should have mild to moderate skin laxity, i.e. your skin has begun to look less firm.

ultherapy chart
Common side effects? 
Similar to IPL, your skin may appear flushed after treatment, but the redness should subside within a few hours. Other effects include slight swelling, tingling, bruising, numbness or tenderness to the touch, but these effects do not last for long.

5. Thermage

thermage What is this and how is treatment like?

Thermage is popular for smoothening, tightening, and contouring skin; it promises a younger looking appearance with no downtime. Treatment involves using radio-frequency technology to heat collagen fibres deep in the skin and stimulate natural renewal of collagen within the skin over time, producing natural-looking results.

Read about our review of Thermage here!

Are you suitable?
Thermage is not suitable for you if you just had fillers done, as the heat energy from thermage may melt the fillers. You should also not do this treatment if you have a pacemaker or internal cardia defibrillator, active skin infections in the targeted area, or if you’re pregnant.

Common side effects?
Possible side effects include redness (that should disappear in 1-2 hours), swelling (that should go away in 2-5 days), small indentations (rare), and bruising (rare).