This week, we met with one of the pioneers of Malaysian aesthetic practice, Dr Liow Tiong Sin, a widely acknowledged expert in aesthetic medicine and a committee member of the Malaysian Society of Aesthetic Medicine. Exhibiting remarkable modesty and decorum, Dr. Liow was easy-going and a pleasure to talk to, did we mention that he enjoys being behind fast wheels?
Dr. Liow, tell us how and when did your interest in aesthetic beauty develop?
It started way back in year 2000. I was doing a lot of antenatal and gynae follow-up, so my practice usually involves a lot of ladies. Commonly after having babies, women would want to lose weight. So that’s where I started treating a lot of weight management for ladies post-delivery. And from there, they look into beautifying- be it pigments, whitening or being slimmer. That was when I explored the aesthetic market.
So you’ve been in this industry since year 2000, so how has the beauty industry changed in these 16 years.
It has changed drastically. Back then, botox was considered very high end and people can hardly afford it, unless they were celebrities or well-known persons. And only a few clinics offered these treatments and patients were charged about 3 to 4 thousand for just a simple botox procedure. Over the years, these procedures have become so common and people can afford it. With the advancement in science, these procedures also yield better results these days. Besides that, the standard of beauty has also changed and patients’ expectations are quite different as well. When I first started, all patients wanted was to fix some problem and not so much of beautifying, unless they had deep wrinkles, really sunken or uneven features and all that. We hardly do so much augmentation like nose, lips and etc. The trend today is that when they enhance, they want to look like someone or some trends on Instagram or Social Media, or those K-pop culture.
So are you talking more about the younger generations?
Yes. As we move forward, customers are getting a lot younger. Like I mentioned just now because it was so expensive, only people in their 50s and 60s can afford doing aesthetic treatment; now, even teens at 18-20 years old are also already doing aesthetic treatments.
Any advices that you would like to give the young ones that are following/keeping up with the trends or exploring aesthetics?
We always stress that we only want to enhance and not to change one’s features unless there are really some area that you would like to fix, then that’s different, those born with congenital anomalies and cleft palate, otherwise everyone has unique features. So I wouldn’t encourage you to change your look but to just enhance it, we do not want to overdo it. We do see the trend now is overdoing it. Many patients want to look like another person and honestly in this line, patients will never get satisfied, after a while, they want more or they want to have a change here or there, so it’s ongoing. We advise them to do a thorough research to see what they want and then see the limitations and not to overdo it.
In your opinion what’s a woman’s most powerful asset.
Of course looks are important, but I would say it is only about 30% of one’s presentation. Definitely first impressions are important, and we do not deny that. But at the end it’s still about your inner beauty, character and personality. Beauty has to go hand in hand with character; beauty on its own doesn’t mean anything.
So what do you consider your greatest achievement in this industry?
In year 2012 when we first started here, Carey Ng was my patient and she won Miss Universe that year too. I also prepared her to go to Moscow for the Miss Universe International. But I would say I derive a sense of achievement by investing into the younger generation by laying down a good foundation for them. I remember during my time, you have to look for workshops and sometimes travel overseas as there were no available courses in Malaysia that has guided or structured training in Aesthetics. In addition to that, Aesthetics was such a grey area, everybody can become an aesthetician and there were no actual courses that gives you aesthetic credentials until recently many companies came in and set up a lot of courses. I am involved in all these kind of training and actually just last month I was in Jakarta for the whole week to train the Jakarta group. I’ll be going to China next week so I’m involved in both regional and international training. Locally I conduct almost at least two or three training sessions every month, so now I am more involved regionally and internationally, which helps me to see changes around the world and to understand the current market demands.
So if you were not an Aesthetic doctor, you’d be….
I used to be Obstetrics and Gynecology for 4 years and I conducted all the deliveries and various procedures there. I even delivered both my babies myself. They are 15 and 17 years old now. So I would otherwise be in O&G.
I’m a vegetarian, so there’s quite a limited choice. So of course a good vegetarian meal would be good. I’ve been a vegetarian for the last 38 years and my whole family’s vegetarian too.
Three things you can leave home without.
Gadgets, everybody use gadgets nowadays for connectivity, be it banking, emails etc. And of course my personal pouch, where my emergency medicine is. I travel everywhere with it as it has my personal medication or even to supply to others in cases of emergency. Those are material things; I think character and personality are important. Personally I’m a very simply guy, not very particular about anything, very easy going.
Your most treasured possession.
My family- my beautiful wife and two kids. They are at a growing up stage, of course I prioritize them, every single needs of theirs, I spend time with them. As I’m at the clinic or hospital most of the time, so whenever I’m free, I always hang out with them, at least travel once or twice a year.
So how do you unwind after work
I love watching documentaries and listening to the news. So I would stay in for hours to watch nice documentaries and check on all the latest news and updates on the television. I also love driving, especially at high speed. I travel almost every weekend to Malacca, I wake up early in the morning around 5 or 6am and drive down when the road isn’t so busy. I’m looking to get a good sports car, maybe sometime in the near future.
Visit Dr Liow’s blog, where he shares his knowledge and expertise with the public. Make an appointment or talk to the other professionals at Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre for a professional opinion today.