The Business of Aesthetics – Interview with Dr Elias Tam
Dr Elias Tam Shares the Beauty of his Profession
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”- Confucius.
Dr Elias Tam, one of Singapore’s pioneers in aesthetic practice, must have taken Confucius’ saying to heart by the way he works and treats his profession: all heart and passion. Long before the term “aesthetic medicine” became all the rage, Dr Tam’s interest in the field was already clear cut.
In 1993, Dr Tam completed his medical degree from NUS. At a time when there were very few courses available in his chosen field, he took every opportunity to learn as much as he could about it, and that meant travelling to different countries to train with various experts. His passion for aesthetics started when he noticed that so many people were affected by skin and hair ailments, problems which he said can be prevented with the right treatment. “Because at that time, these problems were regarded as a ‘part of life’ and not even recognised as a health issue, people had to suffer in silence or resort to expensive yet useless treatment at beauty salons,” Dr Tam shared. “I started to look for a better solution for these patients. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I became deeply involved in aesthetic medicine.”
Today, he is one of the most respected names in aesthetics medicine and dermatology in the country. If he’s not at Elias’ Hair & Aesthetics (EHA) – a skincare clinic he established – providing hands-on treatments for his patients, Dr Tam is either attending or conducting seminars and training courses on aesthetics.
He remembered having his first laser, which was a simple CO2 laser, when he first opened EHA. Now half of his clinic space is filled with a profusion of different lasers and machines. We caught up with the boyish-looking doctor to fill us in on the latest beauty buzz in Singapore.
EHB: Among the many procedures you perform on clients, which are the most popular ones?
Dr Tam: Our EHA FUE (follicular hair extraction technique) hair transplant is a surgical procedure that is very popular with men who suffer from hair loss. For non-surgical procedures, having a facelift using Ultherapy is very popular both to improve as well as to maintain a firm and visibly lifted skin. My patients also have regular laser or IPL to rejuvenate their skin followed by Botox and fillers to smoothen and contour their facial features.
The most popular treatment for body contouring at the moment is “Coolsculpt by Zeltiq” because it has no down-time, is non invasive and very safe. The procedure uses extreme cold to destroy the fat cells similar to liposuction but without any surgery. Cool Sculpt is the only non-invasive treatment that actually destroys fat cells unlike other treatments that simply reduce the content of the fat cell temporarily.
EHB: What do you consider most satisfying about your profession?
Dr Tam: The looks of happiness on my patients’ faces when I help them solve an issue that has been plaguing them and eating away at their self-esteem and confidence is the most satisfying thing about my job. To be able to help someone look good and feel good about themselves is what made me choose this area of specialisation.
EHB: EHA has been around for more than a decade. What’s the philosophy behind your clinic?
Dr Tam: My belief that everyone can and should ‘look good and feel great’. We owe it to ourselves to look and feel our best at all times and my staff and I do our utmost to ensure that our patients leave the clinic looking and feeling wonderful.
EHB: You have a very busy lifestyle. How do you keep it balanced?
Dr Tam: By having forced Thursday nights and Sundays off to spend with my family. I also try to squeeze in regular exercise in the mornings before work. When I go for overseas conferences, my wife will come along with me so that we can have a short break together.
EHB: Aside from making other people look beautiful, what are you most passionate about? Any hobbies/passion you want to share with our readers?
Dr Tam: My wife tells me that I am married to my job because I am constantly striving to keep abreast of the latest innovations in the field of aesthetic medicine. Beyond my work in the clinic, I try to do my part for the community and volunteer my services for the Yellow Ribbon Project. For this project, I visit the prison to do tattoo removal for the inmates so that they can better assimilate back into society once their period of incarceration is complete. I believe that everyone deserves a helping hand and it is a privilege to be able to help in whatever small way possible.
I have also recently partnered up with local song-writer/singer Hagen Troy Tan to conduct school visits with the theme “The Choice is Mine”, a program to encourage the youth to adopt the right mindset and positive activities through interactive games, music and activities.
EHB: How does a well-known aesthetics doctor such as yourself take care of his body? Any skin and fitness tips for our readers?
Dr Tam: I believe in moderation, eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep and exercise. However, this is not always possible in today’s fast paced society. Playing with my three children – aged seven, 11 and 14 – gives me adequate exercise. I follow a basic skin-care regime using EHA gentle cleanser, moisturising gel and lightening eye cream from my own range of Japan-made skin care products. I also have my regular “Skin Exercise”, a term I coined to stress the importance of light-based treatment and collagen stimulation using Ultherapy.
EHB: Organic skin care - what’s your take on it?
Dr Tam: Many people have the misguided notion that anything natural should be safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The truth is that any substance that has an effect comes with a potential side effect, regardless of whether it is organic. Therefore, in the case of organic skin care, it is important that these products be evaluated based on its efficacy and suitability for each individual.
By Maripet L. Poso