Gold Photothermal Therapy at The Clifford Clinic: An Unconventional Solution to Stubborn Acne

Six months have passed since the wearing of face mask was made mandatory by our government for everyone venturing out of their homes. If your skin still hasn’t been reacting well to the increased humidity behind the mask while being at the mercy of acne, you are not alone. Almost every day, my jawline, chin or cheeks would be greeted with pustules or whiteheads after donning a mask for nearly 12 hours in an environment without air-conditioning. These pesky flare-ups lingered even after they had healed, leaving fresh red marks on my newly-treated skin.

Image from Freepik

Image from Freepik

While acne treatments are aplenty, the nature of my day job forbids me to take a few days off to recover from any downtime that follows. Therefore, when The Clifford Clinic introduced their latest localised treatment for recurrent acne that promises no downtime, it honestly felt like my cries for help were finally heard 😩 The new kid on the block is none other than Gold Photothermal Therapy (or Gold PTT) which, from its name alone, already sounds superior than whichever existing treatments for mild-to-moderate acne. The Clifford Clinic is also the pioneer of this novel approach in treating acne at its root.

But why gold? Apart from potentially giving clients a taste of opulence (I mean, it doesn’t get any fancier than having gold infused into your skin 🤩 bling bling!), the key component in Gold PTT is, duh, gold nanoparticles which are chosen for their biocompatibility with human tissues and ability to penetrate easily into the deeper layers of the skin. That said, the gold nanoparticles are also specially engineered to enable them to be precisely and accurately delivered into the pores and glands of the skin via ultrasound sonophoresis (a type of drug delivery) before heating them with a dermatology laser to activate their function. This process is only possible because of the efficient light-to-heat conversion of gold nanoparticles, which allows local therapeutic hyperthermia of tissue.

My first stop: cleansing room!

My first stop: cleansing room!

During the treatment, my face was thoroughly cleansed by an aesthetician before an ampoule containing the gold nanoparticles was carefully applied. As someone with highly sensitive nose, the pungent smell of the ampoule hit me hard at first but thankfully, it got better with every ragged breath I took. Other than that, the whole cleansing process was nothing short of soothing and calming – I only wished it lasted a bit longer!

The little bottle containing the gold nanoparticle-infused ampoule

The little bottle containing the gold nanoparticle-infused ampoule

Applying gold onto my skin..

Applying gold onto my skin..

Spot my whiteheads!

Spot my whiteheads!

Pulsing the gold particles into the oil glands

Pulsing the gold particles into the oil glands

Pulse some more..

Pulse some more..

My skin is so basic, it couldn't handle the opulence of the gold nanoparticles so it broke out in a rash! Luckily, most of it went away towards the end of the treatment

My skin is so basic, it couldn’t handle the opulence of the gold nanoparticles so it broke out in a rash! Luckily, most of it went away towards the end of the treatment

Once the application stage was completed, I was led to another room where Dr Ee would massage the gold nanoparticles into my skin using Bellasonic, an ultrasound machine imported from South Korea designed for skin treatments, before performing the rest of the photothermal therapy.

A picture showing my entire face slathered with cooling gel that was taken during my second session!

A picture showing my entire face slathered with cooling gel that was taken during my second session!

The cooling gel allowed my face to cool before laser application took place...

The cooling gel allowed my face to cool before laser application took place…

At this juncture, a specialised long-pulse diode laser was used to heat the nanoparticles to break down the sebaceous glands in targeted pores, thereby reducing their secretion permanently. This heat also kills Cutibacterium acnes (the bacteria responsible for causing acne) so the risks of inflammatory pustules and papules forming on my face would have likewise been greatly reduced.

Last step: laser treatment to heat up the gold and the oil glands

Last step: laser treatment to heat up the gold and the oil glands

The most uncomfortable part of the procedure because I could feel some tingling sensation.. but it was bearable.

The most uncomfortable part of the procedure because I could feel some tingling sensation.. but it was bearable.

Although the final part of the treatment has been said to be painless, I could still feel a tingling sensation (somewhat like snapping a small rubber band on my face, but the pain is certainly nowhere near the agony I experienced during AGNES, inarguably the mother of acne treatments) with every zap of the laser. Due to the minimal discomfort of this procedure, anaesthesia is not required.

Post-treatment

Post-treatment

Another one without those shades.. My face looks a bit red here but it subsided very quickly

Another one without those shades.. My face looks a bit red here but it subsided very quickly

In addition, the Gold PTT is a highly-tolerable procedure. Unlike other lasers used in dermatology, the diode laser administered in this treatment only interacts with the gold nanoparticles instead of the skin directly. This allows for a highly-localised treatment where healthy skin is left undisturbed so there will not be any drying or irritating effect on the skin. The leftover gold nanoparticles are also inert – they will not react with skin tissue and secretion, and will eventually be shed off together with dead epidermal cells.

A total of three sessions (including the first) was scheduled over a 5-week period for me (it could have been shorter if not for work), each treatment lasting no more than an hour. Even so, noticeable results could already be seen after the first session as the areas where my acne would usually appear have remained as clear as day – even at time of writing (that’s two months after my last Gold PTT session)!

The day after my first session! Still some visible blemishes but they weren't there for long!

The day after my first session! Still some visible blemishes but they weren’t there for long!

All in all, this acne treatment fulfilled its objective of pulling the plug on my pesky acne. However, this might not be the most ideal treatment for those suffering from severe acne. For that, perhaps AGNES would be a better option ☺️

Have you heard of Gold PTT before? What are your thoughts about it and would you consider it if you’re suffering from recurrent acne? Let me know your views in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

The Clifford Clinic · 24 Raffles Place #01-03 Clifford Centre Singapore 048621 (Exit A from Raffles Place MRT) · Tel: 6532 2400 / 8318 6332 (WhatsApp) · For more information about AGNES, do visit Their website or Like them on Facebook and Instagram.

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IN MY DNA: What GeneLife Generations Told Me About My Ancestry Through Genetics Testing

The variation among human faces has always intrigued me: how is it possible that all human faces look so different from one another since the beginning of time in spite of the fact that everyone is born with the same face parts? Furthermore, we seem to be able to distinguish the ethnicity of people – even those of similar skin colour – just by looking at their facial features, especially the eyes (or the windows to the soul as some would call them).

Three pair of female Asian eyes: can you tell which ethnicity they belong to just by looking at their eyes? (picture decolourised as the differing picture quality may be a distraction)

Three pair of female Asian eyes: can you tell which ethnicity they belong to just by looking at their eyes? (picture decolourised as the differing picture quality may be a distraction)

Three pair of male eyes belonging to both Asian and non-Asian of similar skin tone: can you tell which ethnicity each of them belong to?

Three pair of male eyes belonging to both Asian and non-Asian of similar skin tone: can you tell which ethnicity each of them belong to?

But in many instances these days, there tends to be more to one’s ethnicity than meets the eye due to global migration, an increasingly common phenomenon. While it would be obvious that a person is of mixed lineage if he/she was born out of an interracial relationship, it wouldn’t be an easy feat for those who are unable to trace their family history (either because they were adopted or surviving relatives simply haven’t the slightest clue of it) to determine if there is indeed foreign DNA in their blood.

The furthest back I could trace my lineage was my great-grandparents who hailed from China (of which I had no idea where exactly), and that barely told me anything about my ancient ancestors. Since then, that fire of curiosity had been burning within me – who actually am I? Discontented with the limited information available about my family tree (which is strange given how unusual my Chinese surname is), I turned to yet another at-home DNA testing kit from GeneLife in an attempt to unveil the mystery of my ancestry.

Click here to read about my first D.I.Y. DNA test experience!

Why GeneLife Generations?

My interest in DNA testing was first piqued by larger players in the market such as AncestryDNA and 23andMe. But reviews on these firms revealed that they were mostly caucasian-centric with a relatively small Asian pool that lumps all Chinese into a single category (i.e. Chinese would be generalised as Han Chinese), so reports generated on any Asian ancestry would not be as comprehensive as hoped.

Apart from that, those residing outside the states or countries where these firms have offices would have to engage a forwarder to import the kit. That’s not all – outside help (via Airfrov, for example) might also have to be enlisted to mail the DNA sample to the laboratory from the same country stated in the order. All of these point to considerable additional expenses that the user has to incur on top of the cost of the kit – in US dollars. Hence, I had been sitting on the fence about getting a DNA ancestry test until GeneLife finally rolled out their own in July. In fact, Singapore is one of the two countries (the other being Taiwan) selected for this soft launch! Yay!

Image courtesy of GeneLife.Asia

Specifically developed for the Asian population, GeneLife Generations aims to bring users on a personal journey through time to discover what their DNA reveals about their ethnic mix and lineage. Their reports will shed light on the origins and possible migration routes of both their maternal and paternal lineages from approximately 150,000 to 270,000 years ago, as well as comprehensively predict the shared genetic composition of their ancestors. Ethnic groups in their database include, but are not limited to: Chinese Dai, Northern/Southern Han, Singaporean Malay, Vietnamese Kinh, Filipino, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Punjabi, Taiwanese, etc.

View the complete list of ethnicities your DNA would be tested for!

The collection process and steps involved in processing the sample for this ancestry-focused test kit are the same as its predecessors (e.g. Genesis 2.0). You would first need to create a GeneLife account on their website (for first-time users) and register your kit (which returning users would only need to do after logging in).

The packaging

The packaging

Expires roughly 1 year from month of purchase

Expires roughly 1 year from month of purchase

The unnoticeable seal

The unnoticeable seal

Unboxing the kit

Unboxing the kit

Everything in the box

Everything in the box

All the paper work

All the paper work

On the box

On the box

Once the aforementioned steps are done, spit in the test tube provided until the secretion reaches the black mark indicated on the instrument before shaking it. Finally, enclose the sample (sealed in a small ziploc bag provided) in the pre-addressed prepaid envelope with the completed consent form and post it out to GeneLife headquarter. Easy peasy lemon squeezy 😝

The cap at the bottom would be used to close the tube later on

The cap at the bottom would be used to close the tube later on

After spitting into the test tube..

After spitting into the test tube..

Mixing my saliva with the solution

Mixing my saliva with the solution

Ready to mail!

Ready to mail!

Lo and behold, my DNA results are in!

As anticipated, GeneLife constantly updated me on the progress of my sample via e-mail throughout the four-week wait. However, my results could only be viewed on the GeneLife 3.0 app this time ’round.

Some disclaimer you’d have to sit through before being able to access your results

More disclaimer..

What greeted me the moment I accessed my results! *shocked Pikachu*

What greeted me the moment I accessed my results! *shocked Pikachu*

The majority of my DNA - couldn't say I wasn't surprised! I'm pretty sure most Singaporean Chinese fall under this category too.

The majority of my DNA – couldn’t say I wasn’t surprised! I’m pretty sure most Singaporean Chinese fall under this category too.

My minority DNA. Any other Dai Chinese around? Hit me up!

My minority DNA. Any other Dai Chinese around? Hit me up!

More information about my ancestors' possible migration route

More information about my ancestors’ possible migration route

The "maternal" tab showed a rather detailed write-up about where my ancestors could have potentially travelled

The “maternal” tab showed a rather detailed write-up about where my ancestors could have potentially travelled

Oh, bummer! Perhaps my Dad could take the test.. 😆

Oh, bummer! Perhaps my Dad could take the test.. 😆

To be honest, a tiny part of me had wished that there was mixed blood somewhere in my family heritage (because exoticism is so cool) so the results were rather disappointing to say the least. Oh well, facts are facts, and I now fully embrace my pure Chinese DNA!

That said, since testing with different genetic companies can yield contrasting results (as they depend on how extensive the customer bases of these companies are), perhaps using multiple kits would offer fresh insights into my genealogy and origins (#neversaydieattitude😝). Therefore, if the opportunity arises for me to take other DNA ancestry tests, I will not hesitate to go through the process all over again.

Get GeneLife Generations

Keen to learn more about your ethnic roots through GeneLife Generations? Great news! GeneLife has kindly offered a special rate of S$129 (U.P. S$199) for my readers! Simply enter fionaseahgs as the promo code upon checkout to enjoy the discount 🤩

And because holding back awesome deals isn’t something I’d do, here’s another way to score GeneLife Generations at an even lower price (sort of at my expense because I don’t get any benefit out of this. But meh, good deals are meant to be shared!) – from GeneLife’s store on Shopee! Be sure to keep a lookout for it at the Flash Sale section and utilise the shop vouchers 😉

What are your thoughts about GeneLife, or any other at-home DNA test kits for that matter? Let me know your views (and how accurate your results are if you’ve taken one) in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

GeneLife Generations is available on GeneLife.Asia and SHOPEE.
Product was supplied by GeneLife.Asia for my editorial consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.

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HOME & LIVING: Stärkè Digital Lock, Your Key to a Magical Experience at Your Doorstep

Imagine this: you have just done your grocery shopping alone and are now on your way home with both hands fully occupied by heavy bags of items that have been checked off your weekly shopping list. Upon arriving at your doorstep, you momentarily let out a regretful sigh as you berate yourself for not readying your keys beforehand. Not wanting your perishables to come in contact with the floor (or rather, you’re just too lazy to pick them all up later), you rummage through your pouch in search of the keys but to no avail. While doing so, you accidentally open up your palm and one bag – which contains a dozen of eggs – slips off your hand and falls to the ground, shattering most of its contents. *gasp*

Does this narrative resonate with you?

Even if you were unable to relate to the experience above, I am absolutely certain that you have encountered instances where you have forgotten your keys at least once in your life, and you ended up having to wait hours at the staircase landing for any household member’s return (and not forgetting the heightened anxiety when the need to use the washroom arises). Furthermore, who enjoys keeping a bunch of bulky keys in the pocket and risking getting the trousers scratched by them?

What if I told you the frustration of not being able to locate your keys and dropping your eggs (of course – what else could be our biggest nightmare?!) could be avoided with one simple solution? That’s right – by installing a digital lock!

Starke – your first step in building a smart home

Once only afforded by the affluent, digital door locks have become such a commonplace that it is now one of the must-haves for new HDB home owners due to their affordability and convenient security features.

For instance, Starke, which has close to 20 years of experience in the door lock industry, offers sleek feature-rich digital locks designed in Germany for less than S$600. With the exception of gate locks which would require an additional S$40 for welding works, installation is generally free for all Starke purchases. A S$100 deposit is required upon confirmation and you would only need to pay the balance after the installation is complete. Once the nitty-gritty has been sorted on the website, the installer would ring you up within the next few days to arrange an appointment for the installation.

Typical lock that comes with new BTO flats - front view

Typical lock that comes with new BTO flats – front view

Back view

Back view

Although their digital locks are compatible with all types of doors, the company would still request for a few pictures of your door prior to their arrival to ensure a smooth installation. The whole installation process took no more than 2 hours for mine.

Ahh.. Returning home has never been more delightful!

My main door is currently installed with Seamless™ Tall Fingerprint Digital Lock – an improved version of their signature award-winning Seamless™ model to cater to larger doors – and it can be unlocked through not one, not two but FIVE ways: an app (where admins can configure all the settings) via Bluetooth, fingerprint, passcode (4 to 9 digits in length), RFID Card (3 provided) or a mechanical key (2 provided).

The TTLock app is where you can configure your lock settings

The TTLock app is where you can configure your lock settings

Made my Dad, my more IT-savvy parent, one of the admin (apart from myself) just in case I am not around to do any configurations (and also in preparation of my move to my own place next time..)

Made my Dad, my more IT-savvy parent, one of the admin (apart from myself) just in case I am not around to do any configurations (and also in preparation of my move to my own place next time..)

After removing the old lock. By the way, Starke's technicians are trained to fix aesthetic damages, so if your new lock is smaller than the current hole in your door, they will mount a metal plate to fix the new lock on.

After removing the old lock. By the way, Starke’s technicians are trained to fix aesthetic damages, so if your new lock is smaller than the current hole in your door, they will mount a metal plate to fix the new lock on.

After installation. Not being bias, but if you compare the design of Starke's digital locks with those of other brands, I'm sure you would agree that Starke has one of the better, if not the best, design around. Look how sophisticated it is!

After installation. Not being bias, but if you compare the design of Starke’s digital locks with those of other brands, I’m sure you would agree that Starke has one of the better, if not the best, designs around. Look how sophisticated it is!

The back. The material of the lock is built for the humid weather in Singapore to prevent chipping paint or rust. The special layer of lacquer above it also helps to keep the lock sleek and shiny. True enough, two weeks into using the lock and not a single speck of dust is found on it. I can't say the same for fingerprint marks and scratches, though.

The back. The material of the lock is built for the humid weather in Singapore to prevent chipping paint or rust. The special layer of lacquer above it also helps to keep the lock sleek and shiny. True enough, two weeks into using the lock and not a single speck of dust is found on it. I can’t say the same for fingerprint marks and scratches, though.

Up to 100 fingerprints can be registered into the database so every member of your extended family can have easy access to your house, or, if you are like me, all of your 10 fingerprints can be saved (because you never know when you’d lose injure that one finger 😝). The fingerprint sensor has been pretty responsive towards my finger, taking an average of 0.5 second to successfully detect my fingerprint each time. My mother, however, doesn’t have such luck (it could be the way she positions her finger as she can be a klutz when it comes to technology..) so she usually uses her passcode. My father, on the other hand, takes pleasure in unlocking the door through the app (thus giving me a shock from time to time because I am too used to hearing keys jingling before the door opens). Don’t fret about keeping track of who enters your home as you will be notified on your phone (unless turned off) whenever an access is made.

List of fingerprints registered

List of fingerprints registered

Adding permanent or temporary fingerprint

Adding permanent or temporary fingerprint

This is what the page for the addition of temporary fingerprints look like

This is what the page for the addition of temporary fingerprints look like

The name of the fingerprint registrant can also be changed

The name of the fingerprint registrant can also be changed

A random 8-digit PIN will be generated if you go with the passcode option. You will only be able to change to your preferred passcode after receiving this.

A random 8-digit PIN will be generated if you go with the passcode option. You will only be able to change to your preferred passcode after receiving this.

Accessing using fingerprint

Accessing using fingerprint

Accessing using passcode (remember to tap '#' once you have keyed in your passcode to alert the system that you are done!)

Accessing using passcode (remember to tap ‘#’ once you have keyed in your passcode to alert the system that you are done!)

Entry records. Thus, it would be ideal to assign everyone in the household a unique passcode (as opposed to having only 1 passcode that is shared by everyone) so you know exactly who made the access.

Entry records. Thus, it would be ideal to assign everyone in the household a unique passcode (as opposed to having only 1 passcode that is shared by everyone) so you know exactly who made the access.

Check the lock status of your door remotely!

Check the lock status of your door remotely!

On top of that, you could grant temporary access to guests by assigning them a temporary passcode remotely, or by temporarily registering their fingerprints – both of which would expire after your stipulated period. This is an excellent feature for when you need to grant access to your part-time housekeeper while you are away.

Or you could simply use the RFID card (it's so small!) or mechanical key to unlock your door! But... why? That defeats the purpose of having a digital lock. Just use your fingerprint!

Or you could simply use the RFID card (it’s so small!) or mechanical key to unlock your door! But… why? That defeats the purpose of having a digital lock. Just use your fingerprint!

Having lived with traditional locks for most of our lives, we would’ve probably gotten accustomed to latching our door before we head to bed. Although this is no longer physically possible with the digital lock, we can still fasten the door by pushing the handle upwards to prevent anyone (even those with access) from opening it.

Lift the handle to latch the door!

Lift the handle to latch the door!

WATCH: How to unlock the door in under 0.5 second using your fingerprint, and how to latch your door!

The lock is powered by 8 AAA batteries which, according to my installer Din, would last for approximately a year. The built-in battery alert system would sound once the battery percentage reaches 25% so that we have plenty of time to get a new set of batteries to replace!

You can also check your battery percentage on the app!

You can also check your battery percentage on the app!

Don’t you worry about Starke’s after-sale service or the quality of their products – they are so confident about their locks that they even provide a 3-year warranty on them!

Select your preferred language! I'm not sure if this would also affect the language of the digital lock itself.. Maybe I should try it one day 😅

Select your preferred language! I’m not sure if this would also affect the language of the digital lock itself.. Maybe I should try it one day 😅

Other settings

Other settings

What a Starke difference the digital lock has made to our lives!

This brand collaboration could safely be my most apt one of the year because, despite its seemingly small role in my house, the digital lock has truly made my family’s life and mine a lot easier. Therefore, I strongly urge everyone to get a Starke lock for their homes (if you can afford it, of course) because you will definitely not regret it and you will never think about going back to traditional locks after this. In fact, it really beats me why new BTO flats still do not come with the option of installing the main door (and letter box) with a digital lock because if you ask me, this is a complete necessity for convenience and better security.

Now, if only locks for our mail boxes could go digital as well 😒 3-pin passcode locks are so lame..

Would you consider getting one of Starke’s digital locks for your home? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Stärkè Digital Lock is available on starkedigitallocks.sg.
PRODUCT Was SUPPLIED BY Stärkè Digital Locks in collaboration with BEST IN SINGAPORE and OWARI PHOTOGRAPHY FOR MY EDITORIAL CONSIDERATION. ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE MY OWN.

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