Several operations... & counting
Blogger Hong Qiu Ting, 27, never liked what she saw when she looked in the mirror.
Better known as Qiu Qiu, shesays she used to be "flat as an airport runway" and had a very angular face with a square jawline, high cheekbones and a wide nose that made her look like "a man in drag".
When she turned 22, she posted on her blog: "Anyone wanna sponsor a boob job? A pair of boobs."
She eventually got her wish and underwent a breast-filling treatment by a doctor for free.
Still dissatisfied, at the age of 24, she flew to Hatyai, Thailand, for alarplasty surgery, an operation where the surgeon narrows too-wide nostrils, removes soft tissue and then sutures together the open area.
"I asked around in Singapore and the procedure costs between $2,500 and $3,500. I paid only $170 in Hatyai," she says.
Still not happy with her "manly" facial features, Qiu Qiu, who is 1.73m tall, flew to Korea the year after for further nose surgery and fat grafting, "where they took fat from my thighs and beneath my buttocks to fill up my face", she says.
"I was thin, and looking gaunt and tired. With the fats, I look much younger."
Happy with the work of her Korean surgeon, Qiu Qiu returned last yearto get more work done on her jawline, zygoma (bony arch of the cheeks) and laugh lines.
And how much did she spend? $170.
"The rest was sponsored," she says.
Psychiatrist Adrian Wang says: "Attractiveness doesn't just come from physical beauty. Self-confidence, intelligence and personality are important too.
"Also, sometimes women may dwell on certain perceived unattractive features, which really aren't that bad, and using plastic surgery as a quick fix won't solve anything because she might find something else to feel insecure about."
Qiu Qiu, who recently had a baby girl, feels she is confident and happy with the changes to her looks. She says she will not be going for more boob jobs or liposuction to correct her postnatal shape.
Obstetrician and gynaecologist Christopher Chong says: "Most patients are more affected by loose skin from overstretching during pregnancy... Loose skin is treated by tummy tucks or abdominoplasty, if the patient requests for surgical management."
Qiu Qiu says the only surgical management she is looking at in the future is an eyelid procedure, "but only when my eyelids start to sag with age".
People stare but I don't care
BODY ART: Art teacher Jocelyn Tan has tattoos all over her body, including that of a fallen angel on her lower back which was her first tattoo. TNP PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
She was a plump teenager who hated her body.
"I was often teased in school because of my weight. So when I turned 16, I got my first tattoo to feel beautiful," says art teacher Jocelyn Tan, 25.
It was a picture of a fallen angel on her lower back and she spent $250 of her savings on it.
"There was no reason why I picked this design. I just thought it was beautiful," she says, adding that she hid it from her parents.
Hooked, Ms Tan got her second tattoo and then her third.
Her job as an apprentice at a tattoo parlour also fuelled her love of getting tattoos. Now she has a sleeve of tattoos on one arm and scripted tattoos on her shoulder.
It was also at the tattoo parlour that she met the man she married. He is the tattooist who designed and did most of her tattoos.
"Currently, there are two that are not completed. One is a moth on my sternum. I had to stop because it was too painful.
"The other is a sugar skull from South American festival Day of the Dead, which I designed myself," she says. The unfinished skull is on the lower part of her left leg.
As a mother of a one-year-old girl, Ms Tan says she gets her fair share of stares from people.
"So far, the stares do nothing for me except for one incident. I was out alone with my baby when this older woman stared.
"Then she started to interrogate me - asking how old I was and whether my daughter was my first child. Then she shook her head and walked away. That was the only time it affected me. It still does," she recalls.
Dr Loh May-Han from the department of anaesthesia at the National University Hospital (NUH) says having a lower back tattoo will not exclude a woman from getting an epidural for her delivery or spinal anaesthesia for a caesarean section.
She adds: "Exceptions to this rule would be if the tattoo is recent and the affected skin is still healing or if the tattooed skin around the area of injection looks infected.
"As the epidural or spinal anaesthesia involves an injection through the skin overlying the lower spine, the anaesthetist will likely attempt to place the injection through an area of skin without tattoo pigment...
"It is recommended that the anaesthetist be included early on in the discussion of the birth plan if an epidural or spinal is considered for labour, especially if a tattoo is present over the lower back."
Her colleague from the NUH Dermatology Clinic, Dr Derrick Aw, says that tattooing potentially creates small holes in the skin and increases the risk of skin infections.
"This risk of skin infections is higher in people with eczema, because (their skins) have a considerably higher bacterial load, even on areas unaffected by the rash of eczema."
Ms Tan says she was aware of the risks.
The tattoo on her lower back did not give her any problems when she gave birth naturally a year ago because "I opted not to have an epidural".