3 Questions with Dr Low Chai Ling

by Janice Teoh

I had a chance to catch up with Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of the much talked about SW1 Clinic. With over 8000 sq feet of space housing over 20 treatment suites and fully equipped day surgery center, it has been touted as a one-stop aesthetic and plastic surgery haven, a beauty mecca for the A-listers and fashionistas in Asia.


What is one secret to staying youthful?

I would say that is to keep active.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham and King’s College London, my alma mata have found that staying active keeps the body young and healthy. The study recruited 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79, 84 of which were male and 41 were female. The men had to be able to cycle 100 km in under 6.5 hours, while the women had to be able to cycle 60 km in 5.5 hours. Smokers, heavy drinkers and those with high blood pressure or other health conditions were excluded from the study.

The study showed that those who exercised regularly did not experience loss of muscle mass and strength compared to those who did not. Unlike the sedentary group whose body fat and total cholesterol crept up with age, the cyclists did not experience an increase in body fat or cholesterol levels and the men’s testosterone levels also remained high, suggesting that they may have avoided most of the male menopause.

More surprisingly, the study also revealed that the benefits of exercise extend beyond muscle as the cyclists also had an immune system that did not seem to have aged either. An organ called the thymus, which makes immune cells called T cells, starts to shrink from the age of 20 and makes less T cells. In this study, however, the cyclists’ thymuses were making as many T cells as those of a young person.

Importantly, I think we need to debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail. Committing to regular exercise is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.

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A peek into your vanity closet…what skincare are you using right now?

My vanity closet is a mess. I use a bit of everything as I formulate most of the skincare in SW1 Clinic, and we test them on doctors not animals so my skin is a test bed of my latest prototypes. If I have to narrow them down, then what I probably use most regularly or at least reach for when I want guaranteed skin results for an important event are Special Effects, Citrine and Rose Quartz Lip Treatment. Special Effects really keeps my pigmentation at bay and it does double duty whitening my skin. I am not naturally very fair but I do find when my s,in ooks fairer and brighter, I can get away with less makeup. Citrine is one of my favourite creations from the CHAI range; it’s fresh powdered vitamin C with an activator. I get my skin’s dose of vitamin C from Citrine. Its light and it absorbs easily so it’s perfect for my combination skin. Rose Quartz Lip Treatment is something I always carry in my handbag. Somehow I am cursed with chronically dry lips, this makes it hard for me to apply matte lipsticks. This is the only lip treatment that I have found that really softens and treats my lips. I mean lip glosses are lip balms are great but they are essentially cosmetic, forming a barrier on top of the skin. I kind of like Rose quartz lip treatment because they actually get absorbed into the lips to convert them from chapped to soft.

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What is one skincare tip you would impart to your daughter?

 Don’t leave things too late. I had to learn it the hard way with my skin. I had teenage acne when I was younger which resulted in scarring. It took several sessions of Fraxel laser over the years to restore my complexion and rid it of the visible marks. Once you see the start of any skin problem, have it looked at and treated. Many problems are better nipped in the bud. I also recommend using eye cream from your twenties before you develop lines under your eyes. The skin around our eyes are often abused and stretched as we rub our eyes, clean off our mascara yet it does not have many oil glands. It’s vital we replenish the lost moisture in the skin around the eyes to prevent premature aging. Sunscreen is also a must, you should not wait for pigmentation to surface before reaching for your first tube. Prevention is always better than cure.

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