One session, five anti-ageing treatments: What you need to know about this latest non-invasive facelift

Including an intra-oral laser to target the cheek’s deepest layers, to a skin-refining surface laser peel, the Fotona5D aims to rejuvenate and tight from the inside out and outside in

Fotona5D is a non-invasive five-step laser treatment that works to rejuvenate and tighten the skin from the inside out. PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, sagginess and loss of volume are all signs of ageing skin.

That's why the latest non-invasive facial treatments, harnessing the technology from lasers to radio frequency and ultrasound energy, aim to target these concerns to help you regain that youthful countenance or back-from-holiday glow everyone now yearns for. The best part? It is much less uncomfortable than other popular skin tightening treatments such as Thermage or Ultherapy.

And while you might have heard about Fotona4D, you might not be fully aware of its newest iteration: the updated Fotona5D laser treatment, created by the doctors from SL Aesthetic Clinic.

The team at SL Aesthetic Clinic. From left to right: Dr Ashley Yuen, Dr Charlene Goh, Dr Kelvin Chua, Dr Gabriel Wong, Dr Ho Sue Wei and Dr Ko Wei Xiang. PHOTO: SL AESTHETIC CLINIC

The Fotona4D laser gets an upgrade

For the uninitiated, Fotona4D is a non-invasive four-step laser treatment that uses two different laser wavelengths to address a variety of skin concerns. It does so by working synergistically to rejuvenate and tighten the skin from the inside out. This, in turn, helps lift, firm and plump the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sagginess.

It starts with the SmoothLiftin laser to treat the inner lining of the cheeks through the inside of the mouth to stimulate collagen contraction and production. Next, the Frac3 laser targets the dermis to tackle deeper imperfections, such as pigmentation, pore size and skin tone. This is followed by the Piano laser, which heats up the deeper layers of the skin to boost collagen production and reduce unwanted pockets of fat. It finishes off with the SupErficial laser that gently exfoliates the surface of the skin, to reveal a brighter and more even complexion.

Levelling up the Fotona treatment from 4D to 5D is the addition of a fifth Erbium Laser step, known as the SmoothFirmin. This proprietary step is used to tighten the whole face and neck.

Dr Gabriel Wong, medical director of SL Aesthetic Clinic, explains: "We came up with the Fotona5D in the second half of 2020. After doing many 4D treatments, we brainstormed on how we could enhance the effectiveness of the original procedure so that fewer treatment sessions were needed, while delivering better results [at the same time]. We tested using different laser hand-pieces, settings and treatment areas [to] perfect our 5D protocol."

Created by the doctors from SL Aesthetic Clinic, the updated Fotona5D laser treatment features the addition of a fifth Erbium Laser step, known as the SmoothFirmin. This proprietary step is used to tighten the whole face and neck. PHOTO: SL AESTHETIC CLINIC

So who is suitable for Fotona5D? Dr Wong says those with mild to moderate saggy skin who are looking for an effective, non-surgical, face-lifting procedure are good candidates, adding that it is "not suitable for those with active skin issues such as uncontrolled acne, hypersensitive skin, or those with severe, saggy skin".

And unlike many laser treatments that are over in a snap, the Fotona5D actually has a treatment time of 60 to 90 minutes. According to Dr Wong, the longer treatment time allows the doctors to cover a larger area with more steps to deliver better results. This, in turn, saves time, when compared to a shorter treatment that may require multiple visits.

In fact, all you need is one to two sessions, depending on severity, with at least one month in between treatments to achieve maximum results, says Dr Wong. "Thereafter, maintenance sessions once a year would usually suffice."

However, Dr Wong says results vary from person to person. "For patients who are 40 and below, we recommend annual treatments for maintenance; while those above 40 can undergo up to two treatments per year."

Focusing not only on the skin on the face, Fotona5D also tightens the skin of the back of the neck and along the hairline to contribute to a more youthful appearance. PHOTO: SL AESTHETIC CLINIC

How Fotona5D works

#1: It targets your skin, from the inside out AND outside in
One of the unique components of the Fotona5D is the inclusion of a non-surgical, intra-oral laser. The first step of the treatment, the SmoothLiftin laser, treats the inner lining (deepest layer) of the cheeks through the inside of the mouth to stimulate collagen contraction and production, says Dr Wong.

He adds that this step is important because "as the deepest layers of our cheeks within our oral cavity loosens, there is less support internally", which in turn, results in the sagging that occurs in the lower halves of our faces. But "by stimulating collagen formation and strengthening the innermost support of our cheeks, we effectively treat one of the factors that contribute to saggy skin".

#2: It is a holistic anti-ageing laser treatment
As you know, most anti-ageing lasers target the face. But the Fotona5D goes beyond, focusing not only on the skin on the face, but also on the front and back of the neck and along the hairline too.

"The skin over our entire body becomes more lax as we age," explains Dr Wong. "Tightening the skin of the back of the neck and near the hairline contributes to a more youthful appearance as a much larger area is treated."

In addition, he also explains that "treating these additional 'can't be seen areas' can also improve the appearance of the skin at the front too."

The Fotona5D treatment finishes with a SupErficial laser peel that focuses on the epidermis (the skin surface) by "gently exfoliating and smoothing the skin surface", which helps to refine the skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines and restore a healthy and youthful glow.

#3: It is more comfortable than other non-invasive lifting and tightening treatments
It's been said that the Fotona5D treatment can be performed without the use of numbing cream - a testament to how comfortable it is. And while patients may experience only a mild and warm prickling sensation without the use of numbing cream, Dr Wong shares that numbing cream is still applied to ensure better patient comfort during the treatment.

In addition, the treatment also uses a "clinical-grade cooling machine to protect the surface of the skin and reduce discomfort."

#4: It puts your safety first
With such a long treatment time, you might be worried about burns. However, Dr Wong says that the use of a thermal sensor (the MatrixView attachment) prevents the skin from overheating and minimises the risk of burns. What this does is allow the doctor to monitor the temperature of your skin in real time, ensuring that an "optimal temperature" can be achieved without exceeding the "safe temperature threshold."

Dr Wong also emphasises that "the treatment steps have all undergone strict protocols to ensure consistent, safe and effective results."

#5: It is suitable for all skin tones
Not all laser treatments are suitable for all skin tones, but Dr Wong says the Fotona5D is suitable for all skin tones.

"The technology behind it is highly different from [that behind] other lasers and IPL, so the treatment parameters can be modified to make it safe and effective for darker skin tones," says Dr Wong. In fact, the clinic has performed the Fotona5D laser treatment on many patients with darker skin tones and achieved good results. More importantly, there were no complications.

Caring for your post-treated skin

Aftercare is just as important to ensure that the results last. Dr Wong recommends these three easy-to-follow tips:

Apply sunscreen daily to protect your skin: UV rays not only contribute to pigmentation but can also cause collagen to break down, resulting in accelerated signs of ageing.

Keep skin hydrated: Laser treatments can dry out the skin. In fact, it's normal if skin feels a little tight and parched. Dr Wong recommends using the SL Aesthetic Clinic Medical Hydrator to infuse skin with moisture.

Avoid AHA, BHA, retinol and alcohol-enriched skincare products for the next five days: Swap these out for gentler barrier-strengthening products that contain peptides, ceramides and hyaluronic acid instead.

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