Stamford Skin Centre: Skin Treatment Redefined

Health - Saigon/HCMC: Oct. 31, 2016

Did you know that some $200 cosmetic creams are manufactured for $5, and are basically glorified moisturisers? What about the fact that there is a tattoo removal laser that shoots beams at pulses of one trillionth of a second?

We sat down with Stamford Skin Centre, an advanced laser dermatology clinic in Ho Chi Minh City, to find out some surprising things about skin care, skin treatment, tattoo removal, cosmetic dermatology, skin cancer and STDs.

Stamford Skin Centre uses some of the world’s latest dermatology equipment to provide residents with highly effective treatment. At the helm of the clinic are three exceptionally-qualified specialists who are experts in their respective fields. They are: Dr. Tom Cuong, who spoke to us about cosmetic dermatology, skin care products and tattoo removal; Dr. Doanh Lu, who specialises in STDs; and Dr. Mark Siefring, who shed light on the skin cancer topic.

Botox & Lasers

Dr. Tom Cuong began with the subject of botox. Many people, he says, believe this to be dangerous and ineffective in the long term. He contests this by saying that cases like these are few and far between; the treatment is safe and quick, and can make crow’s feet around the eyes disappear within a week.

About 40% of Stamford’s patients come in for cosmetic reasons, and most come in for melasma and aging skin. Besides botox, Dr. Cuong uses a fractional CO2 laser to make skin brighter, smoother and younger looking. The process is surprisingly effective, as witnessed by the many high-resolution before and after photos the Centre has. The method is interesting in the way it works: a laser removes layers of skin tissue in “columns”, leaving surrounding columns untouched in order to aid the rejuvenation process.

Skin Care Products: Myth or Reality?

Skin care products, Dr. Cuong says, are basically glorified moisturisers. Cosmetic skin products are not to be confused with medical creams and ointments; the latter are necessary, while the former drive themselves on marketing and branding. Cosmetic skin care products are not as wondrous as their advertising claims; they simply moisturise the skin and make it feel better (temporarily). They are basically hope in a bottle; they do not restructure facial skin tissue.

Name brands charging $100-$200 for their creams make it for $5. To give you a historical perspective, let’s look back to a thousand years ago, when people did not have advanced, scientific-sounding beauty creams. They used whatever they had to refresh their skin - potatoes and cucumbers, for example. You can still spot potato face mask videos on YouTube in 2016, and the purpose is for anti-ageing. The power of belief goes a long way, says Dr. Cuong.

Tattoos & Regret

On the subject of tattoo removal, Dr. Cuong lit up - Stamford Skin Centre just got a new machine called the pico laser, which shoots pulses one trillionth of a second in length to break down ink buried between the surface level of the skin. This is the biggest innovation in tattoo removal technology to come out in this field in 30 years. Generally, blue and black colours are easier to remove than red or orange. The treatment is now available for everyone.

Treating STDs With Compassion

Many locals and expats dread going to their nearest local hospital, waiting for their ticket, getting their blood checked for STDs, then getting their results impersonally thrown at them before being moved along. Stamford Skin Centre - and particularly Dr. Doanh Lu - are passionate about being discreet about the patient’s testing, as well as providing the patient with counselling and support. They even guide patients about what course of action to take if they need to tell their partner or family about their condition. Unlike many hospitals, results are told over the phone - you don’t have to wait until you come in.

Stamford Skin Centre offers a more holistic approach to STDs, and this is something sorely needed in a city that usually turns its head towards this sort of thing.

A Candid Look on Skin Cancer

Those with fairer skin - that’s Westerners, not the Vietnamese - are more susceptible to skin cancer. What many don’t realise is that unlike London or an equally low-light city, you’ll get enough sun for the day just walking to your motorbike or car here. So making sure not to expose yourself too long is key.

A more serious problem outside of cities is traces of arsenic in the water supply, which does cause skin cancer. Some wells dug in the Mekong do not go through the same filtration system as the water in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and thus are more prone to be contaminated with arsenic. There are also small amounts of arsenic in some traditional medicine. One hundred years ago, arsenic was used to treat asthma and skin conditions - unfortunately, this practice still remains today.

Skin Cancer Culprits

There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Basal cell is the most common type of skin cancer in the world, and the one the residents in Ho Chi Minh City are prone to getting the most. Basal cell cancer is rarely, if ever, fatal (and in such cases, it has been ignored for decades by the patient).

Basal cell cancer is rarely, if ever, fatal (and in such cases, it has been ignored for decades by the patient - 30 years is a rough estimate). Squamous cell cancer only has a 5% chance of being metastatic (meaning the cancer would spread to other parts of the body), but ignoring it for as little as a year can lead to problems.

Your biggest worry is melanoma, which can be fatal. Dr. Siefring recommends coming for a checkup if you notice a change in the size or colour of particular moles.

The Stamford Skin Centre relies on two excellent dermatopathology labs to check all skin specimens. In-house, Dr. Mark uses dermoscopy to magnify lesions, which allows him to look closely at pigmentation patterns, blood vessels and other features that gives clues as to what the patient might have. Sometimes, this avoids the need for a biopsy.

Quick Skin Tips

Some tips to keep your skin younger and healthier: stay away from the sun. Exercise, and eat different colour fruits - red dragon fruit, carrots, green veggies. Wash your face with soap after going out on your motorbike in traffic, and don’t pick your acne, or you’ll get scars that will be difficult to fix, even with a laser. And make sure to sleep early!

Contact information



Hotline: +84 28 3925 1990

Address: 99 Suong Nguyet Anh, D1