Aesthetic treatments and medicine, both surgical and non-surgical, have become increasingly popular over recent years with a number of women and men opting for a number of procedures. The principles of aesthetic medicine are entirely focused on enhancing a patient’s appearance. Improving aesthetic appeal, symmetry, and proportion are the key goals of the practice.
“Everyone deserves the right to treat yourself the way you think you deserve to be treated without judgment from others,” Dr Rachel Chew says.
Don’t be fooled by her sweet demeanour and gentle smile, Rachel is actually a seasoned doctor with a firm standpoint in aesthetic medicine. Through undying love for art, Rachel has managed to integrate her passion into medical practice and successfully carve her name as one of the top aesthetic doctors in Malaysia. the founder of a non-surgical aesthetic clinic named after herself.
With over 10 years of experience in providing aesthetic services and consultations, she opened her own clinic named after herself in Publika (KL) around last year, and after a rapid growth launched another branch in Starling Mall, Petaling Jaya June this year. This elegant lady shares her insights on aesthetic medicine.
How did your career kickstart?
It was spontaneous, to be completely honest. I’ve always loved arts. Starting from a young age I have been into painting, I learnt Chinese calligraphy, I picked up music – anything arts really! Through singing and playing piano, I developed an ambition to be a musician.
Becoming an artist in Malaysia is tough – it’s not easy to earn a living. My father insisted I took up medicine. “Be a doctor instead. It’s a proper profession,” he said. I didn’t have much interest in it at first– I was very much into arts – but I did it because of my father.
During my housemanship, I had the chance to step into the plastic surgery department. The experience was eye-opening and it became the twisting point of my life. I realised I could treat my clients with my passion – art. This was when I decided to start my career in aesthetics, and soon opened my own clinic.
How do you define beauty?
This is a very tricky question! (laughs) I think it’s when you feel at ease with someone. They can be very physically attractive but if they don’t carry the right attitude, you will still feel uncomfortable with the person. Internal factors come first before external.
I also think beauty is when you are content with yourself. From the way you smile, dress and carry yourself – it’s important to be contented. I believe you shouldn’t change what’s not perfect, you enhance and improve it instead. That’s why I started this service. Some people are very insecure and wary of themselves, and I want to help them feel better.
What age group does the aesthetic market typically consist of?
I would say most of my clients are in the age group of 20 to 30 years old, but in general it’s actually 15 to 40 years old. When we talk about confidence and self-esteem, it’s an issue no matter the age. The youngest client I’ve ever had was a 12-year-old girl.
That’s really young. In your experience, what are the usual concerns plaguing the Asian aesthetic market?
Aesthetic enhancements are becoming more common these days. I have noticed a lot of requests for double eyelid treatment. Some have imbalanced or not too noticeable eyelids, so they might want to alter the shape or deepen the crease. The nose area is a common concern as well.
Please explain the methods you use for the procedures.
Firstly, I’m a physician, not a surgeon – I don’t cut. In non-surgical aesthetic medicine practice, we have energy-based treatments like radio-frequency, ultrasound, cryolipolisis, and lasers.
We also have other treatment methods like botolinum toxin (botox) injections, Hyaluronic Acid fillers (there are many types but I prefer using HA), and thread.
Is there any benefit opting for non-surgical treatments?
With these non-invasive or minimally-invasive treatments, you actually get less scarring. Some people have time restrictions, so without going under a knife, you heal faster too. It’s highly efficient, after a procedure you can get back to work immediately.
How about anaesthetics? Normally patients are advised to rest until the effects wear off.
Anaesthetics are optional, but I usually advise against it. Even if we do use any, it’s only to numb the treatment area and you are fully conscious. Because it’s non-surgical, it causes little to no pain. A few clients actually told me popping pimples is more painful than going under any treatment here! (laughs)
How do the clients come to a decision?
I guide clients through consultation. I believe a suitable (proportional) shape is more important. Tall noses don’t work for everyone, so does a V-shaped face. The end result must be natural and proportionate – we refer to it as ‘Golden proportion’.
It’s important that I educate and steer clients’ mindset to what’s right. You won’t turn into anyone else, neither will you look like Angelina Jolie afterwards. I won’t change you, I’m here to help you to become a better, enhanced version of yourself. Consultation period is where you decide on these things – it’s extremely important that I guide them to achieve the ‘Golden proportion’.
What if they’re still adamant on the kind of changes they want?
I tend to reject clients who are unrelenting to the point where they won’t accept any other suggestions. This is not solely business; it’s art. I’m the artist, and I put my personal touch in making things beautiful – of course after consultation and with your full consent. Imagine an artist being told to draw something that they have no interest in, will they accept? Even when they do, will they put their heart into it? It’s similar to this issue. When you refuse to budge, you’re rejecting my work.
You’re a determined artist for sure. How do you ensure client satisfaction that way?
There is no guarantee in medical industry. It is not a product, it’s a service. Each individual has a different perception of what beauty is, hence each responds differently towards treatment as well.
Mental health is also a crucial factor. Some individuals reach out in a desperate manner due to personal problems. I need to ensure they are not depressed or distraught. If this is the case, I would suggest for them to take up counselling rather than aesthetic treatments. This is why full consultation needs to be done before we work on any procedure.
In what way do your treatments affect the clients?
During post-procedure checkups, I’ll find out if my service has helped them improve in any way. For instance, social media influencers who had received treatments told me that they receive more job offers now. Being aesthetically pleasing has helped them garner more interest from employers. They also become more confident when they’re comfortable in their own skin, hence improving their interpersonal interaction skills.