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Beauty by degrees

Gunjan Shah’s Skin World clinic in Mumbai is six months old and it’s doing roaring business. About 150 clients turn up daily for treatments for everything from acne scars to wrinkles and skin whitening solutions. But Shah is not another of the many beauticians who’ve set up shop. She is a doctor who specialised in dermatology at Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital. “Nowadays, everybody needs specialised treatments for their skin given the stressful times. And being a doctor, I can guide them accordingly,” she says.

Or check out Madhu and Ashok Chopra’s wellness clinic, Studio Aesthetique in Mumbai’s Juhu. Madhu’s an ENT surgeon and Ashok a general surgeon (they’re also actor Priyanka Chopra’s parents). Says Madhu: “While in a salon the beauticians aim to give you a desired look, in a wellness clinic, medical practitioners try to arrive at a permanent solution by going beyond the root cause.”

Studio Aesthetique opened in February. Before that Madhu had done a cosmetology course from the Aesthetics Enhancement Institute, Miami, and Ashok did an advanced cosmetology course from Promo Italia, Italy.

Gunjan Shah plans to take her clinic Skin World to smaller cities around the country

Looking gorgeous is certainly a clinic away as a clutch of cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists take up the knife to help achieve the desired look. And they are armed with medical knowledge. Says Shah: “Unfortunately, many beauty clinics are not equipped to conduct major surgeries.”

So what has led to the doctors joining the beauty bandwagon? Says Manish Mukul Ghosh, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Columbia Asia, a multi-speciality hospital in Calcutta: “Doctors are attracted to the challenge of learning new procedures in the cosmetic industry. Moreover, machines are also readily available in the market which makes it easier for them to have their own set-up.”

There’s also Kiran Bawa who teamed with her co-partner Shilpa Shetty to open the Iosis Medi-Spa in Mumbai last October. Her USP is a fusion of four elements — skincare, spa, weight-loss and salon treatments. Bawa is a certified medical cosmetologist from the London School of Beauty and has done a specialisation in cosmetology from the CIDESCO, London.

(From top) Kiran Bawa has partnered Shilpa Shetty to launch her spa Iosis Medi-Spa which is a one-stop wellness clinic for spa therapies and skin treatments; Rohini Wadhwani at her skin clinic Skin Essentials in Mumbai; Madhu Chopra at an acne removal session in her clinic Studio Aesthetique

“While Shilpa was hands-on in getting the look of the clinic right, I scouted for the machines and did a lot of research on the advanced treatments before setting up this place,” she says. Iosis focuses on non-surgical treatments which vary from skin-tightening, acne, fillers as well as spa therapies for the body and feet. The bestselling facial, which also happens to be Shilpa’s favourite, is a gold and caviar facial. The prices of the treatments start from as low as Rs 300 and can climb upwards to Rs 1 lakh.

Who’s turning up at these clinics? “Everybody from Bollywood actors to working professionals,” says Dr Purnima Mhatre, who has opened her Gorgeous Skin Care clinic in Mumbai. Mhatre practiced as a medical cosmetologist for 14 years in Mumbai and went to Canada in 2006 for training in advanced skincare.

People call her with problems like sagging eyelids, facelifts, removal of stretch marks and even hyperhydrosis. Prices vary from Rs 1,500 per session for skin treatments to Rs 1 lakh or Rs 2 lakh for procedures like liposuction.

Cosmetic surgery is no longer looked down upon by the medical fraternity. “Only a trained medical cosmetologist with a fair amount of medical experience will be able to tell you what works for you,” says Dr Rohini Wadhwani, a cosmetologist who launched her clinic Skin Essentials in Mumbai earlier this year.

Wadhwani did her MBBS from Nair Hospital in Mumbai and moved to London to specialise in cosmetology and the use of lasers. The bestseller at her clinic is a skin-radiance treatment using Intraceuticals Infusion, a specific type of oxygen facial for every skin type. Prices of treatments are customised.

These medical cosmetologists are going great guns. Shah’s planning to take her clinic to tier-two cities by mid-2010. Mhatre, who has her clinic at three locations in Mumbai, is coming up with 25 clinics in India. Bawa too is taking Iosis to 15 centres across India by early next year while the Chopras will soon be opening two clinics in Delhi and Dubai.

They are also keen to open institutes to impart advanced training in medical cosmetology. So while Dr Kiran Bawa is giving final touches to her Iosis Wellness Academy in Mumbai, Wadhwani too is aiming to open a training school in the near future. Shah also has plans to come out with her own range of skincare products in the market soon.

But amidst all the hype and hoopla, Chopra rues the fact that quality checks are failing. “People are confused whether to step into a beauty salon or to turn up at the dermatologist’s clinic. For many it is the biggest money-spinner in the name of giving the right treatments.”        

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