Many of us deal with skin pigmentation issues such as uneven skin tones (hyperpigmentation), melasma or just desire to have more radiant and luminous skin. To correct this issue or achieve our desired tone, we often turn to over-the-counter products — from vitamin C serums, to acid peels and scrubs. Where do we draw the line? How far are we willing to go in search of an effective solution for brighter, whiter skin?
One of the more taboo treatments is whitening drips, also known as IV glutathione drips. These intravenously administered cocktails have been around for decades, promising whiter and more luminous results. However, this procedure is banned in Singapore. In this article, we explore why this is so, and other safe alternatives you can consider.
Given through an IV (intravenous vein) procedure, skin whitening drips consist mainly of Glutathione.
In general, glutathione is an important antioxidant that can be found in dietary sources and is a naturally occurring substance in our body. Whitening drips are a cocktail of glutathione, glucose and other high-powered ingredients such as vitamin C, and sometimes even chemotherapy agents. 
The solution makes its way to your cells and breaks down the pathway that causes pigmentation like melanin. This in turn inhibits key enzymes responsible for pigmentation formation and hence, lightens the skin over time.
It’s all a matter of safety and the adverse effects that could come from glutathione IV drips.
Firstly, it’s important to note that only medical professionals are licensed to administer treatments intravenously. There are also hazards that come with unsterile equipment and risk of infection. Licensed cosmetic firms are also required by the HSA to report the product they plan to sell to ensure that they don’t contain prohibited substances.
As these cocktails are not regulated, toxic substances may be included, which can cause adverse effects on the body such as toxicity to the nervous system, kidney and liver. Other reported side effects are low blood pressure, rashes, nausea, diarrhoea, chest pains, numbness, breathing problems, or vomiting.
It may also lead to a rare but serious skin condition called Steven Johnson’s syndrome, which affects the skin and mucous membranes. Initially, the body usually reacts with flu-like symptoms, which is followed by a painful rash that spreads and blisters. When severe, it will lead to toxic epidermal necrolysis, which leads to severe skin peeling and blistering, resulting in large raw areas that may ooze or weep.
The FDA has issued several warnings on banning whitening drips due to their severity of irreversible side effects, and should not be taken lightly.
If you’re looking to lighten your skin or fix pigmentation issues, there’s more than one way to do so beyond whitening drips. At Cambridge, there are several solutions available to you that are non-invasive and safe for your body.
The PicoCare 450 is a laser-based treatment that delivers non-ablative laser pulses in picoseconds that eliminates pigmentation particles and stimulates collagen production in deeper layers of the skin. This helps achieve more luminous and rejuvenated skin.
It can eliminate uneven skin pigments while simultaneously minimising risks like burns, scars, and adverse side effects often seen in traditional laser treatments. The fast speed also ensures a comfortable and painless experience for all patients as the heat emitted from the laser is depleted at a faster pace.
Additionally, the PicoCare 450 Laser has a high level of precision. With this precision comes accuracy, ensuring minimal damage to the neighbouring skin cells when the laser is administered. This is important as poorly executed treatments can increase the risk of side effects.
A multi-wavelength Q-switched laser technology, Revlite Laser is a skin resurfacing procedure. It helps reduce pigmented lesions for issues like hyperpigmentation and melasma, and can rejuvenate the skin.
It emits a low-level heat that penetrates the skin and the excess melanin in your skin will absorb it — breaking it down to smaller particles. Thereafter, your body will recognise the smaller particles as waste and eliminate these from your body through natural processes. This procedure is a non-invasive, quick and safe procedure with no downtime.
Although whitening drips seem like a quick and easy fix for lighter skin, they may do you more harm than good. Always do prior research before undergoing any treatment, and discuss both your desires and concerns with your aesthetic doctor so that they may recommend a treatment best suited to you.