'Confessions' Of An Aesthetics Doctor

Associate Doctor at Rexults Clinic and Botox expert Dr Melvin Tan tells us he can’t help seeing faults and defects in people’s faces, how he wields his needle like a paintbrush and what it’s like to be Violet Oon’s son-in-law.

It’s not easy being an aesthetics doctor. For those who think the life of an aesthetics doc is all cocktail parties and the high life, Dr Tan says, “People think it’s a lucrative profession and you have a great lifestyle, and there’s that side of it, for sure, but it’s not easy. To be a good aesthetics doctor, you need to have a good eye and be able to listen to your patient, suggest things tactfully, and deal with their expectations and emotions. I had to cultivate these qualities over time. Also, unlike other medical fields, where patients may not have as much say in what they want, aesthetics is subjective. The challenge is in matching what the doctor thinks is best with what the patient thinks is best — there has to be a meeting of minds for an optimal result.”

#1 It’s not brain surgery, but it’s still fulfilling.
Says Dr Tan, “Ultimately, although I’m just treating wrinkles and sagging skin, I still see it as being able to make a big difference in people’s lives. Little improvements in their looks can really change someone’s life and give them so much more confidence. That part of aesthetics really fulfills me. I see a lot of acne patients, and when you can clear up their skin, they blossom and become different people.”

#2 The needle is a paintbrush, and the patient’s face is the canvas.
“I really like doing Botox and fillers. You get instant results, and you can be super creative. It’s like having a paintbrush or a pen. It’s subjective — it’s how the doctor assesses your face and how he uses the product. But when you get good at it, you get such nice results and make people so happy. Art is actually a big interest of mine. So beyond helping people look and feel better, being able to express myself creatively has been good for me too.”

#3 Seeing ‘defects’ in people’s faces is a job hazard.
“When I meet people, I’d usually be able to pinpoint the one procedure or treatment that would dramatically improve the way they look. It’s an occupational hazard. I look at patients every day, trying to see their faults and defects and what I can do to correct them, that I end up doing it all the time, like while I’m jogging or if I glance at someone on the train. At least half the people you walk past would benefit from nose and chin fillers. I don’t do implants, but I use fillers like an implant to augment or sharpen, or bring the face into better proportion.”

violet oon and children tan su lyn
All in the family: Dr Tan’s wife Tay Su-lyn (on right) with her mum Violet Oon and her brother Tay Yiming, The siblings look after the family’s food business together. 

#4 Don’t offer to make changes to your wife’s face, especially if she already has the “golden ratio.”
“My wife is actually beautiful. I don’t think it’s too wise to suggest improvements. (Laughs) She has the big eyes, strong nose and V-shaped face. Her face has the ideal proportions — we call it the golden ratio. It’s the idea that everything beautiful in nature, such as flower petals, follows this ratio of 1: 1.618. You see that everywhere on the face, like the dimensions of the eye and the nose. In a way, beauty is instinctive — our brains have been programmed to find things that follow the golden ratio more pleasing to the eye.”

#5 When you’re Violet Oon’s son-in-law, you get to eat leftovers.
“Meals used to be [lavish Peranakan affairs] before they opened restaurants, and it was amazing. Now, my mother-in-law has no energy and time, so lavish meals are usually only on special occasions. Growing up, I never ate Peranakan food, so when I first saw buah keluak, I had no idea what it was. (Laughs) These days, I still get to eat that kind of food, but it’s in the context of a food tasting, if they have any leftovers. I don’t complain!”

Rexults Clinic is at #17-01 Tong Building, 302 Orchard Road, Tel: 6235-5533.

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