Living in Hong Kong leads me to some very interesting places and I was fortunate enough to find Gillian at the Lauren Bramley Clinic by accident while searching for a podiatrist for my daughter. When I entered the clinic I was amazed to see that I had actually found a multi-functional clinic that brought expertise in both western and eastern medicine. As I flipped through the services they offered from anti-aging medicine to genomics I knew I had found my place. The Lauren Bramley clinic leverages the latest technologies for a truly holistic approach in resolving and preventing disease. It made perfect sense for an international metropolis like Hong Kong.

What caught my eye first was the medical aesthetics services the clinic offered. I learned a lot about medical aesthetics from Singapore Aesthetics Centre during a recent trip to Singapore. Medical-grade beauty treatments are becoming increasingly popular as clients are demanding a more professional approach using highly sophisticated machinery for optimal results.

I decided to meet with Lauren Bramley’s professional aesthetician Gillian Elsworth to get the nitty gritty on medical aesthetics and to learn more about microdermabrasion. 

Medical Aesthetics vs. Beauty Salon

Z: Gillian, can you please explain what is the difference between medical aesthetics and beauty salon treatments?

G: Basically the difference between medical aesthetics and regular beauty salon treatments is that in medical centers the treatments, technology and machinery are more advanced, more powerful and, thus, more effective than what most beauty salons would have to offer. Our machines, for example, are medical grade and we must adhere to strict industry and medical standards in Hong Kong to operate them.

Generally, a medical aesthetic center needs to hire staff with the proper laser training and qualifications to operate a laser machine including all the other medical grade equipment we have. The staff is guaranteed to be highly experienced and properly trained, which is extremely important. (Zora’s note: “True! Check this out.”)

Also, we work more with lasers for skin rejuvenation and hair removal, skin tightening and skin firming for various problems. The difference between the medical aesthetics clinics is that they offered more specialized advanced services using medical grade machines. We use a lot of the latest medical grade lasers of which we must be highly trained and qualified to use.

In our centre, for example, all clients must have a doctor’s consultation before performing any laser treatment. We want to be 100% sure the patient doesn’t have any medical issues. This means that our doctors must also be trained in how our machines work and what outcomes the patient will have.

Keep in mind, that some salons in other countries may not require a doctor’s visit and background check. I believe that this is extremely important before deciding on a treatment.

Choosing the Right Aesthetician

Z: So how are we to choose the right medical aesthetic clinic, aesthetician or salon?

G: What most people do is go by recommendation. This is the first step and a great way to see the results from someone who has already gone through the process.

Second, if an offer for a treatment is too good to be true, it probably is. Non invasive beauty treatments are a high end product. The equipment is costly, the training has been an investment of time and money and some treatments can take hours to perform.

Third, be wary of cheap products used in the treatments. There are many brands out there, but we also have the power of the internet to investigate some of the products that you find on the aesthetician’s table. Don’t be shy to ask the names of the products and jot them down.

Fourth, look for qualifications on the wall or displayed. Professionals put a lot of time and effort into their training and are proud to show it off.

Fifth, do some research. We all have the power of internet in our hands and can do some research on medical aesthetic centers, salons and aestheticians.

Most Effective Treatments

Z: You’ve been in the industry for over 25 years now, so you have seen many trends come and go. Over the course of your practice, what treatments have you seen to be the most effective?

G: Personally, I see great results from treatments in non surgical face lifts using micro-current technology, skin peels, lasers, microdermabrasion and radio frequencies.

In general, it is crucial that you have an experienced professional perform a medical aesthetics treatment. A knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the body and face is important to understand the relationship of the device and the body to yield the best results as well as to avoid complications.

A chemical skin peel is a treatment that uses a chemical solution on your face that causes it to exfoliate and eventually peel off. The “new” skin underneath is smoother and appears less wrinkled than before giving you an overall rejuvenated look. There are many different grades and strengths of peels, depending on the condition of your skin.

Laser treatments (aka lasabrasion or laser peel) have been around a long time and safely deal with a number of skin problems. This technique uses pulsating beams of light that removes tiny bits of skin layer by layer. It is a great solution for acne scars, wrinkles and other skin irregularities giving you a more even skin tone. There is also a Fotona laser, the rolls royce of laser machines that treats a variety of different problems such as skin rejuvenation, skin tightening and hair removal to name but a few.

Radio frequency (RF) treatments have been popularized by machines such as Endymed Pro™ which treats both the face and body. This technique is used to treat saggy skin by tightening it via heat and supposedly inducing natural collagen and elastin production. It is primarily used to treat the forehead, under eyes, cheeks, jaw line, and neck, but can also be used on the body such as the thighs and buttocks. The heat creates shrink wrapping breaking up the fat and tightening the skin. It causes thermal damage (in a good way) to heat the skin to tone it and firm it to build collagen.

Microdermabrasion is another great treatment where I see clients having instant results.

Microdermabrasion in Detail

Z: Tell me more. Today you are going to give me a microdermabrasion. What exactly is this for and how long will the effects last?

G: Basically our micro-derma machine is two in one.  One side is crystal microdermabrasion to polish and remove dead skin cells and really brighten the skin. It also helps to minimize the pores and fade some pigmentation spots as well as aid in better absorption of products.

Our microdermabrasion machine also has a vacuum suction process which sucks and clears away the debris and dead cells while stimulating the circulation of the skin.  The technique I use gives a lymphatic drainage process to the skin to help flush away toxins resulting in much clearer skin.

I then follow up with a prescription facial individually tailored to the clients skin and needs. I finalize the experience with an application of the various serums and creams and masks.

Z: So, the purpose of the microdermabrasion is to brighten the skin, minimize pores and fade spots. How long do these positive and beautifying effects last for? Is there something I can do to prolong the effects?

G: The results should last at least a week or two. Keep in mind that a good daily home care maintenance routine with good quality skincare products will help to prolong the benefits.

Keep skin well hydrated by drinking lots of water too. Hydrate from within as well from out.

Z: What kind of products are used in your facials, serums, creams and masks?

G: We use both SkinCeuticals medical grade products which are very active and give great results. We also use Dr Lauren Bramley’s own skincare range too. This is the best of naturals and science combined.

Z: Are there any side effects to microdermabrasion?

G: No side effects or downtime with micro-dermabrasion.

Z: Are there any skin types or people who are not good candidates for micro-dermabrasion?

G: No, unless they have very thin, extremely sensitive or sun burnt skin.

Z: I have sensitive skin. Will microdermabrasion be too aggressive for my skin type?

G: If someone has very sensitive skin, we can do a manual dermabrasion. In general, sensitive skin can still benefit from a gentle microdermabrasion but I would have to see the skin first and give a consultation as it really depends on how sensitive the skin is. I recommend only on a case by case. Sometimes, microdermabrasion is not necessary. 

Z: How often does one need to have a microdermabrasion in order to maintain the positive effects?

G: Microdermabrasion should be ideally done every three to four weeks keeping in line with the skin’s natural regenerating process.

Z: How long has microdermabrasion been around? Are there any scientific studies proving its effects?

G: Microdermabrasion has been around for many years.  I am not totally versed in the scientific studies behind it, but we can see it really does visibly work. Microdermabrasion is a very popular treatment actually. It is quite a simple a process that removes the dead skin cells with instant results. There is not even a need for studies. It’s like a deep cleansing and exfoliation. Do you really need a study for that? Better absorption of products unblocks pores.

Z: I agree with most aestheticians who tell me that having the latest technology in a salon or medical aesthetic center is great, but more importantly, the people behind the machine using the proper technique is even more important. What are some of the things that can go wrong if microdermabrasion is poorly administered?

G: If poorly administered and done too roughly, the skin may get scratched, irritated and red.

Z: Is microdermabrasion costly? If so, what can we do in between treatments on a regular basis to maintain/elongate the positive effects?

G: Weekly gentle exfoliations help to remove the build of dead skin cells especially in dry skin. The cost varies from place to place.

Z: Are there any other things I need to be aware of regarding microdermabrasion that I haven’t yet asked?

G: Yes, you must use sunblock after the treatment to protect the skin from the UV rays. But you should always be using sunscreen anyway, rain or shine.

Tips to Slow Down Aging Skin

Z: What is the one mistake that you see women make in your practice that prevents them from slowing down the aging process?

G: Poor lifestyle choices and sun damage. Sun exposure is the fastest way to get wrinkles and too many people expose themselves to the sun causing fine lines, dehydrated skin and aging spots. Poor sleep, too much alcohol intake, smoking, stress and poor nutrition all contribute to accelerated skin damage including wrinkles, rosacea, burst skin capillaries, dull, gray, yellowish skin tone, dry skin, eczema, uneven skin tone and skin laxity.

Z: What is the most effective treatment and/or habit we can take to prevent skin aging?

G: Lifestyle and avoid the sun. Proper nutrition, adequate sleep, drinking enough water, a good skin care routine, avoiding smoking and alcohol and managing stress levels all while using sunscreen and/or avoiding the sun decelerate skin aging. Believe it or not, meditation and yoga are also great anti aging secrets for youthful looking skin.

Z: Is there a minimum age limit for medical aesthetic treatments?

G: It is always a good idea to take care of your skin from a young age, however, medical grade aesthetic treatments on young people are usually only administered for teenagers with severe acne. We advise to have a consultation with a doctor before going ahead with any treatments.

Organic Skincare vs. The Rest

Z: What is your take on organic skin care products? Is it worth the extra cost?

G: It’s nice to know exactly what is in our bottles of skin care products, which may include ingredients that you understand and even safe enough to eat. Organic products are great if someone has healthy normal young skin, but for treating particular anti-aging issues pigmentation, deep lines and wrinkles or acne needs a stronger more “active” product. In these cases, organic may not be the best anti-aging choice. I believe in true anti aging products that are backed by scientific studies and as far as I know, organic skin care products are not as powerful at combatting signs of aging. I will repeat myself, for healthy and/or young skin, organic is great. For treating more serious issues, such as acne, deep lines and wrinkles and pigmentation we recommend using more powerful ingredients.

Most ingredients in products do not reach deep into the skin, so there is not much of a risk to using non-organic products. Although case by case this can be debatable. The ingredient you should be concerned about is essential oil, which are fantastically powerful, but you need to know how to use them as they have been proven to go into the bloodstream penetrating deeper into the epidermis. Therefore essential oils should be 100% pure. Beware of synthetic essential oils on the market which may not be effective and could be detrimental.

You also want to avoid products that contain lanolin. Why? Because in some cases it has been known to stimulate facial hair and block pores.

Z: Thank you so much for your time, Gillian. I can’t wait to see the results of my microdermabrasion!

G: A pleasure! 

Gillian Elsworth studied aesthetics in the UK and holds international certifications from CIDESCO, CIBTAC, ITEC and City & Guilds of London. Gillian has trained staff globally at some of the top 5 star hotels in the world. With over 25 years of experience in the beauty industry, Gillian continues to partner with hospitals, dermatologists and other professionals to make as many people be the best version of themselves via the many treatments and advice she offers. Gillian is highly qualified and also has studied laser sciences. To contact Gillian directly, email gillian.elsworth@laurenbramleymd.com  or call +852-6022-4190.

Lauren Bramley & Partners

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