Dr. Natasha Shetty: Globally Trained Aesthetic Dermatologist Changing The Narrative Of Medical Aesthetics In India

Dr. Natasha Shetty: Globally Trained Aesthetic Dermatologist Changing The Narrative Of Medical Aesthetics In India

Dr. Natasha Shetty

According to Grand View Survey, the global aesthetic medicine market size was valued at $99.1 billion in 2021. The industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.5 percent from 2022 to 2030. The said high growth rate can be attributed to a plethora of factors. However, underneath the industry’s impending growth lies our society’s obsession with beauty. Human beings’ fixation with beauty dates back to the very beginning of civilization. Interestingly, the allure for beauty is not an acquired trait but has been wired into our DNA. With time, this primal instinct has evolved into an impediment that afflicts us all on some level; modern men and women are trapped in the pursuit of socially-approved and hard to achieve beauty standards.

In India specifically, this phenomenon manifests in our collective obsession with `fair skin'. A vast majority of young Indians also suffer from body dysmorphia, a mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. Something as simple as a skin condition can affect an individual's quality of life in general. As a consequence aesthetic medicine is growing in popularity across India.

Given the sensitive nature of the `beauty conundrum', a cosmetic dermatologist's role becomes highly complex. Dr. Natasha Shetty, Founder of Skin Series agrees. She believes that an aesthetic dermatologist walks the tight rope of creating awareness about the subject without sending out the wrong message to young girls and boys who will grow up watching a lot more of these procedures.

Armed with rich global knowledge and experience from mature markets such as UK and America, Dr. Natasha intends to translate her medical knowledge in the field into practices her consumers can apply to their day-to-day lives. She emphasizes that her job is not to alter one's looks but to enhance her patients' features to bring out the best in them.

Through her Thane based state-of-the-art skincare clinic, Dr. Natasha not only focuses on treatment modalities but is also mindful of the overall experience of a consumer from the moment they walk through the doors. Her primary objective is to improve patients' quality of life­ whether it is through her skills as a doctor or just counselling.

A practitioner turned entrepreneur at the young age of 30, Dr. Natasha is a hard-worker who believes in pushing beyond her boundaries and comfort zone every day. It was this tenacity that motivated her to establish Skin Series (initially started as an Instagram page) in the thick of the raging pandemic. Dr. Natasha put in the time and effort into researching about the portfolio of products that had hit the Indian market. One thing led to another and eventually Skin Series evolved into a physical space in 2022.

In an in-depth interview with the Women Entrepreneur India magazine Dr. Natasha speaks to us about her professional journey, thoughts on aesthetic medicine and much more.

Take us through your early educational journey & prior industry experience that you bring to the table. What motivated you to venture into the field of dermatology?

I pursued my primary medical education (MBBS) in India. After graduation, while exploring my options I discovered the world of aesthetics. I then went on to obtain a Diploma in Medical Cosmetology from one of the leading experts in the country which gave me an insight into the Indian aesthetics industry. Forgoing conventions, I went to the UK to pursue a Master's degree in Clinical Dermatology which helped me understand international standards of practice and care.

Upon my return to India I began working for a corporate aesthetic clinic in Mumbai. The beginning of my professional journey in India brought to my attention some glaring cultural issues. I got to understand firsthand the country's collective obsession with white skin, the prevalence of body dysmorphia and how skin conditions can affect an individual's quality of life in general. There was a glaring lack of awareness on the consumer end of things. On the other hand doctors were not rendering the required guidance and counselling to patients.

This realization drove me to understand more mature markets like America and UAE and how the industry there works. I then went on to do a Fellowship in Aesthetics and Anti-aging Medicine from an American academy with trainings based in Florida and Dubai.

Upon coming back to India I worked for a year to get some exposure in clinical dermatology. This journey made me realize the importance of empathy and compassion. I understood that I could touch hearts with just the words I use during my consultations. This validated my calling for me and I felt like I could use these strengths to change the narrative of medical aesthetics in the country one small step at a time.

Take us through your journey towards establishing Skin Series? What is the underlying idea behind founding the clinic and some of its most unique features?

The lockdown was a difficult time for us all. Clinics were shut and patients were too scared to come in even after the lockdown was lifted. We couldn't leave our homes and not too long into it, the medical professional in me wanted to do whatever I could to stay in touch with the profession and help people in whatever way I could.

That's when Teleconsultations started playing a big role and `Skin Series' was born but as an Instagram page. My aim was to use the platform as a channel to communicate with my patients.

With the pandemic having an impact as it did on the beauty and personal care industry and with so many international brands penetrating the Indian market, it became important for doctors to keep up with the wide portfolio of products that had now hit the Indian market. As a part of another project, we dove into detailed research to understand product manufacturing and life-cycles. Trying and testing products became even more important than ever. There also arose the need to compare them to plainly medicated products, which India was primarily relying on until now, in terms of results.

A year later, when things got better, it was time to take `Skin Series' to the next inevitable phase ­ a physical space where I could directly communicate with my patients and can now offer a more holistic approach instead of just a prescription.

Skin Series is now a state-of-the-art skincare clinic that not only focuses on treatment modalities but also the overall experience of a consumer from the moment they walk through the doors.

“Skin Series is a state of the art skincare clinic that not only focuses on treatment modlities but also the overall experience of a consumer from the moment they walk through the doors”

Tell us about the various treatments and procedures that Skin Series specialize in. How do you ensure that your clients have a fruitful and pleasant experience at Skin Series?

We primarily deal in Medical Aesthetics and Anti-aging Medicine. We work with energy based devices and minimally invasive procedures to get our clients to their skin care goals.

Our service menu includes a wide range of treatment options including hair reduction, microneedling, vampire facelifts, injectables, radiofrequency, hair growth treatments and skin boosters among others.

We customize treatment plans according to our clients' needs and goals. We believe in setting realistic expectations and then working towards the same goal with our consumers. It is a journey we embark on together. We focus on prioritizing patient needs and comfort above anything else and aim at providing optimum results while maintaining high standards of quality and patient care.

“We are not here to change the way you look. We are simply here to enhance your features to bring out the best in you, and in turn, sometimes improve quality of life”

We also carry a wide range of cosmeceuticals (retail skincare products) to aid post treatment care and maintain the results we achieve through in-clinic treatments. Our next phase is to integrate an e-Commerce platform on our website to make shopping for skincare more concern-focused and convenient for our consumers. This will also help us alleviate geographical limitations.

What are some of the most pressing challenges that you encounter as an aesthetic dermatologist? How do you successfully mitigate these challenges?

Even with global popularity, aesthetic medicine is still relatively new to India. The biggest challenge we face is to create awareness about the subject without sending out the wrong message to young girls and boys who will grow up watching a lot more of these procedures.

I am extremely mindful of the words that me and my team use while speaking to our patients in clinic. We are not here to change the way you look. We are simply here to enhance your features to bring out the best in you, and in turn, sometimes improve quality of life, and only if that is something you want and desire. Medical Aesthetics is a choice and not a necessity.

Along with being a clinical dermatologist, you are also an entrepreneur. How do you balance between both these roles? What are some of the most significant milestones that you have achieved throughout your professional journey?

When I started my journey as an independent practitioner, I was well aware that I would be torn for time trying to manage both roles. However, I was not willing to compromise on either. So I began planning my days well in advance, breaking down bigger tasks into smaller ones and trying to always stay on top of things. I put in extra hours before we open our doors in the morning and juggle between both roles through the day. I also have my team to thank and am extremely grateful for them since they manage my appointments and time perfectly well. I would never be able to do what I do without them.

Being able to do what I do professionally while also being an entrepreneur at 30, which is early by industry standards for medical professionals has been a significant milestone for me. However, I recognize the privilege and do not take my journey for granted. I work extremely hard to push beyond my boundaries and comfort zone every day. I am far from where I want to be but I am happy to say that this is just the beginning.

Drawing from your experience as a business leader, what would your advice be to young women and girls who also aspire to become business leaders and entrepreneurs in the future?

Don't stick to convention or societal norms; don't let them dictate what you can and cannot do. Break some barriers and make some people uncomfortable. You're not here to please the world, you are here to do what you do best and follow through.

You will have some good days and some bad ones when you will want to give up. But don't! There is nothing this world can throw at you that you cannot handle. Embrace it all, because while the good ones will validate your skills and strengths, the bad ones will help you grow like none other. Take that leap of faith, work harder than anyone else and make this journey story worth telling someday. Nothing great comes with ease.