Alarm bells tend to go off when you have to sign an indemnity form before undergoing a facial treatment at a spa.
Yet, despite the trepidation, one merrily signs away because the chance to have multiple skin issues effectively treated at one go is just too hard to resist.
After all, the newly launched 3Deep Fractional Skin Resurfacing (FSR) treatment at Porcelain, the Face Spa, claims to offer visible and long-lasting results with reduced pain and recovery downtime - compared to existing fractional technology.
To treat ageing skin, it is necessary to work on the upper layers of the skin to reduce skin roughness and hyper-pigmentation. Fractional skin rejuvenation - where only certain zones on the skin are damaged with heat, thus allowing the skin to heal much faster than if the whole area was treated - accomplishes this effectively.
In addition, if the dermis (second layer of the skin) and the collagen fibres within are also heated using radio frequency waves at up to 50 deg C, collagen remodelling results and there is visible reduction of wrinkles and scars plus a long-term tightening effect.
So what the proprietary 3Deep FSR device, made by Israeli radio frequency aesthetics equipment maker, EndyMed, does is simultaneously perform both micro-fractional ablation on the epidermal layer and deep dermal heating in one pulse, thereby treating all three primary layers of the skin.
The treatment is minimally invasive and promises brighter and clearer skin, a noticeable smoothening out of wrinkles, reduction in hyper-pigmentation, an improvement in skin texture and scar treatment.
After a lengthy consultation, where you are ominously assured that "it is darkest before dawn" (read: expect things to get worse before they get better), you are ushered into a treatment room which is purposely kept very cold to counter the heat that will be generated on the skin during treatment.
Post cleansing, a numbing cream is applied on your face and you are left alone for about 20 minutes to ponder if you made the right decision.
The therapist then returns, fires up the machine and places its hand piece in a predetermined pattern on your face - each time, it is gently pressed onto the skin and removed after a few seconds.
Surprisingly, there is some discomfort but no significant pain. What might be of greater concern, is the faint but distinct burning smell that is emitted every time the hand piece is lifted from the skin.
The procedure is rather quick, taking about 30 minutes or so and ends with a welcoming cold mask placed over your face. By the time you leave the spa with two hydrating facial masks to use at home over the next two days, the numbing cream is likely to have started wearing off. You begin to feel the pain, though it is not unbearable and pretty much disappears about two hours after the treatment.
What remains is unsettling though - small rows of angry red dots and slight swelling where the skin was treated with the hand piece. The next two days are the most frightful.
As the redness subsides, what looks "stamped" all over the face are neat matrices of dark dots. Since you are advised to stay out of the sun and avoid cosmetics such as foundation so as not to cause inflammation, it is best you stay home than try to face the world in this pixelated state.
Thankfully, by the third day, the tiny scabs start falling off and by the fifth day, almost all the black dots are gone.
The verdict? The skin does seem brighter and lighter in colour, and feels tighter. While immediate results can be seen after a single treatment, collagen remodelling and skin tightening continues over time, so you can expect optimal improvement only about two to three months later.
For more significant and longer-lasting (about a year) effects, you will need to undergo a few more treatments. The consolation, of course, is that by now, you know those black dots aren't permanent, and that indeed, they eventually lead to noticeably improved skin.
The 3Deep FSR treatment ($850 per session, 120 mins inclusive of consultation) is at Porcelain, the Face Spa, 15 Cantonment Rd TEL: 6227 9692 www.porcelainfacespa.com