By Dorcas Lee

When it comes to plastic surgery, most people think of drastic changes to the face and body (like the movie 200 Pounds Beauty or even My ID is Gangnam Beauty.) But the reality is that most patients that go for cosmetic procedures do not want to look like a completely different person, but simply a better, more improved version of themselves. 

I finally took the plunge last month, and decided to get double eyelid surgery with Dr Adrian Ooi of Polaris Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. Many Asian women like myself are born with monolids or a hidden double eyelid, which is the one I have. Having relied on double eyelid tape for the longest time, I still wasn’t that great at it, and decided that it was time to find a more permanent fix that didn’t add an extra 15 minutes to my morning routine. 

The writer consulting with Dr Adrian Ooi

In Southeast Asia, the aesthetics industry is unlike what you see in Western media, with Kylie Jenner lips, fox eye and BBL trends going around to achieve the “Instagram Face”. Perhaps largely influenced by Asian beauty ideals, the top three most popular procedures that Southeast Asian women go through are blepharoplasty, or double eyelid surgery, followed by rhinoplasty and glutathione injections.

While medical tourism is a booming trend across the globe – where patients travel to other countries for cheaper deals or to seek out an appearance that fits their own local standards of beauty – there are several benefits to doing it closer to home. For one thing, plastic surgery comes with multiple risks. With a local surgeon, there is the convenience of follow up consultations and in-person appointments that can put you at ease. Moreover, when you factor in the cost of hotels, flights and accommodation, a ‘plastic surgery vacation’ can sometimes cost the same as doing one at a clinic near you.

Choosing the right plastic surgeon

There’s a question that everyone has on their minds when considering a cosmetic procedure: how do I choose the right doctor? A quick Google search will usually bring you to a couple of the top surgeons in Singapore. But then again, nothing beats hearing from the first-hand experience of others. I had spoken to a few of my friends who have undergone cosmetic procedures and Dr Adrian Ooi’s name popped up a several times. 

You also want to make sure that they are board-certified and can legally practice based on the country’s regulations. Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to invasive procedures like plastic surgery. After all, there is no point looking beautiful if it leads to other complications. That being said, experience is key to achieving perfection. Look for reputable surgeons who have had training and practice in the type of surgery you want to further guarantee satisfactory results.

Dr Ooi is a MOH-credited, board certified plastic surgeon specialising in aesthetic procedures on the eyes and face, breast augmentation and reconstruction, head and neck surgery lymphedema surgery and extremity reconstruction. Having completed his plastic surgery training at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), he continued his practice there. When I heard that Dr Adrian Ooi recently started his own practice at Polaris Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, I was elated. 

How it went

Polaris Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery is located in Mount Elizabeth Hospital, which is where I went for my initial consultation. One pre-consult tip is to always prepare a list of questions as well as know what you want, so that the surgeon can build on from there. I’ve always wanted a higher crease and to extend my inner eyelids to create a parallel look so I conveyed that to Dr Ooi. He recommended that I get an incisional blepharoplasty with an inner lid incision to create the look I want. This would include getting the ideal crease height that complimented my other features as well.

Arriving at the Polaris clinic, there didn’t seem to be any operating theatre in sight, which made me wonder where the surgery was going to be performed. Dr Ooi assured me that the procedure would be done in the new and secure day surgery, with state-of-the-art equipment and attentive care of their staff there. After a series of questions about risks, aftercare and pre-surgery care, I was ready for my new eyelids!

The Surgery

Day One: I headed to the day surgery, located in Wheelock Place, just a few minutes away from Mount Elizabeth Hospital, early in the morning. Since this was a day surgery, I wanted to get it done as early as possible so I didn’t have to spend my morning worrying about it. As nervous as I was, stepping into the day surgery somehow managed to calm my nerves a little. Dr Ooi made some markings on where the eyelid incision and crease was going to be and it was finally time.

I opted for a local anaesthesia and sedation method, which meant that I wouldn’t be put to sleep, but won’t feel any pain at the same time. Dr Ooi mentioned that he needed me to be just conscious enough to open my eyes so he can check on the final result.

I’m not going to say that the procedure was a breeze, since it is, after all, invasive surgery. But it was surprisingly quick and easy, probably because I was under sedation. Less than two hours later, I woke up with a pair of swollen, but visibly larger, eyes. The nurses helped place a cold compress on my new eyelids while explaining to me the aftercare instructions, such as when to take medication, apply antiseptic cream, how to wash the rest of my face, bruising and bleeding care and more. After about half an hour, I was able to leave. In total, I spent about four hours in the clinic, which was a pretty good amount of time in exchange for pretty eyes.

Post Surgery

One week post-surgery: Unlike the suture method, incisional double eyelid surgery will require the surgeon to remove the stitches a week after surgery. So a week later, I went back to get them taken out. The nurse at Polaris Plastic Surgery did it so skillfully and quickly I almost forgot I was getting strings pulled out of my skin. They also gave me some scar cream, which I had to apply twice a day in order to reduce scarring and get the most natural results possible. 

The Recovery

Recovery process after incisional blepharoplasty. The swelling peaks around Day 2 to 3.

Since I did this sometime before Halloween, all my friends joked that I didn’t need a costume. After the stitches are removed, you’re practically ready to be out in public without scaring anyone around you. Still, there is some waiting time for the swelling to go down before you can wear contact lenses or eye makeup. That was fine, since my eyes were significantly better looking than before. The swelling exponentially decreases after getting the stitches out, and it was mostly painless – I even stopped taking painkillers after the second day!

My Final Thoughts

As the saying goes, beauty is pain. Based on my incisional double eyelid surgery experience, the pain to beauty payoff seems to be quite high. Plastic surgery has become more attainable in the last decade, with newer equipment and technology, as well as more affordable prices.

The writer, a month post surgery

In Singapore, the stringent medical regulations and world-class institutions have produced experts in the field like Dr Adrian Ooi. Having thought about wanting to achieve my ideal eyes for the longest time, I’m glad that I was able to achieve this at Polaris Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. Also, hooray to no more double eyelid tape or sleepy eyes!