The world is obsessed with beauty. Achieving socially approved beauty standards is a key driving force for a vast number of people across the globe. We all aspire to achieve the perfect skin, hair and body. However, genetics play a deciding role what one’s physical features will look like. But a smart person once said, “What God did not give, a doctor certainly can”.
As crude as it may sound, yet medical aesthetics has emerged as a highly lucrative industry. The hair transplant procedure, which is a subset of the aesthetic market has emerged as one of the most sought after procedures.
DrArika Bansal, MBBS, Gold Medalist MD (AIIMS, New Delhi) Diplomate of ABHRS (USA) Hair Transplant Surgeon and Co-Founder Eugenix Hair Sciences explains further. “The opportunity is huge as the half of the population which is men, suffer from baldness at some point of their life. Almost 80% of men are affected by baldness by the age of 70 to 80 years, making the hair transplant industry one of the biggest in terms of cosmetic procedures. Earlier the patients of NW grade 6 or grade 7 baldness were refused for the transplant because of the difficulty in achieving full coverage but it has become very common nowadays to achieve full coverage in grade 6 or 7,” says DrArika.
She believes that baldness is largely accepted in the society and bald people are just as beautiful as others. However,some people do not wish to remain bald and aspire to flaunt beautiful hair. For such individuals baldness can swallow their confidence and affect one’s self-esteem. With a desire to help such individuals attain what they so desire, DrArika specialized in the field of hair transplant procedures.
Today DrArikais one of the renowned names in the industry and is one of the very few female hair transplant experts in India.
We speak to DrArika to get a better understanding of this burgeoning market and dispel myths about hair transplant procedures. We also delve into her professional journey and thoughts on women’s representation in the Indian medical industry.
Take us through your formative years. What motivated you to venture into the field of healthcare? Tell us about some of your earliest life influences.
Being a doctor is always seen as a matter of honor and prestige in almost every section of society. When I was in my teenage or say on the verge of choosing a career for myself, I always wanted to choose something that could give back to the society in which I grew up.
The reason I chose the field of healthcare is because of keen interest in science & life science i.e., biology. The study of human systems& body is fascinating & enlightening. In the short span of our lives, we learn, we earn, we grow, we experience and we do a lot many things that impact our lives and those who are living around us. I believed serving mankind is serving the almighty. What could be the best way to serve mankind, other than being in healthcare? These thoughts of mine motivated me to move into the healthcare sector.
What led you to specialize as a dermatologist? Give us a glimpse of your vast expertise as a dermatologist and a hair transplant expert.
The key point of dermatology is that unlike other branches of medicine the diagnosis is right in front of the eyes. Usually, the dermatologists don’t need to do any blood tests or any investigations like MRI, CT scan or any other radiological investigations to arrive at a diagnosis & progress to the treatment can be monitored visually without any blood tests. This is the reason dermatology fascinated me. The hair transplant was fascinating because it gave a resolution to the problem which was genetic & irreversible. Hair & scalp are the integral part of the person personality. Hair transplant is a surgery which gives us long lasting & permanent solution without need of repeat unlike other cosmetic surgeries.
How has the hair transplant procedures market evolved over the past few years?
When we talk about evolution in last few years, I would say that the knack for looking the naturalness in the hair transplant has improved. People have started observing all the small details & making sure it looks natural. There has been an increase in demand for women hair transplant also & for hairline density/lowering procedure in men. I would like to mention a survey here. According to the research of Frost and Sullivan, despite being broadly affected by the pandemic, hair transplant is booming globally, not just in India. One of the prominent factors is improved technology, techniques and skills of doctors in Indian clinics. Needless to mention that with all those facilities, technological advancement and skill sets, the hair transplant cost is much affordable in India than in most foreign countries. This is the reason we can see a big market opportunity in the hair transplant sector.
Hair transplant is often considered a ‘risky procedure’. How do you work towards removing this stigma while also ensuring that the procedure is safe for patients?
If hair transplant is not done correctly, definitely I would call it a risky procedure because unnatural result sit right on your face & they make everyone realize that you have done a hair transplant procedure& it look highly unnatural and eye-catching but when it comes to the general health it’s not risk at all. It’s a minimally invasive procedure done superficially under local anesthesia & if the medical fitness is checked pre-surgery then the chances of any kind of morbidity or mortality are very low. I would also add that society has itself removed the stigma of hair transplants in the last decade. A hair transplant is no more a surgery these days. It is just a simple cosmetic procedure for most people in the world.
Tell us about your experience of being one of the very few female hair transplant surgeons in the country. Have you ever had to face any challenges at work owing to your gender?
Being a female hair transplant surgeon has not been a challenge in achieving any kind of progress in the field & it has been very good journey to work in academics as well as in practice. People are becoming open minded & they have started realizing that female surgeons can be as good as male surgeons, so I don’t think I have faced any challenge owing to my gender.
India sees a vast number of women pursuing education in the field of medicine, however, the numbers do not necessarily reflect in the healthcare workforce. In your opinion why is there a mismatch between the two? How can we work towards bringing more women to practice medicine?
Women have difficulty in practicing medicine because of long working hours, emergency duties & night duties and since the responsibilities of children & home are on their shoulders, it sometimes become difficult for them to do a good professional justice to their work. The only way to change is to have a good family support.
I feel we do not have to put any effort specifically to bring a woman in medicine field. It is difficult to have different working guidelines for women than men because this would add partiality towards the men. So, I think family support is something which is very important for the women who are practicing medicine/healthcare.