Given the fact that Aesthetic Medicine is still not that popular how well has this been received?
Up until a very few years ago it was almost unheard of for anyone around here to talk about Botox, fillers and the like, not to talk about having such treatments. When we encountered patients at the clinic and suggested such aesthetic treatments, they were very concerned…”isn’t it a little too much though?” “isn’t it too vain?” . Most people that had these treatments, had them done abroad, very discretely. I am surprised at how much of a difference there has been in the past 2 to 3 years. Difference in perception and openness to improving, dare I say tweaking physical attributes people are not so pleased with, especially as they get older.
People are now more open to talking about and actively seeking help in addressing this wrinkle here, this sagging skin there, that hyper pigmentation there…Nigeria is catching on, very quickly. Aesthetic Medicine treatments are very attractive to many especially compared to the surgical alternatives because they have minimal downtime, so you don’t have to take time off work to recuperate.
There is a resurgence in skin bleaching what do you think is responsible and how do you discourage clientele who are trying to do this? Also how are you able to help patients/clients whose skin has already been damaged by harsh chemicals.
I won’t say there has been a resurgence per say. Skin bleaching has been with us for decades, people are just becoming more aware of the repercussions and tell-tale signs of skin bleaching so can spot those doing so.
What has however increased beyond belief is the number of young people using bleaching products. There is enormous pressure among younger people to look a certain way no thanks to the selfie generation, along with the desire for lighter skin. We have patients as young as 8 years old requesting for creams that will lighten their skin, mothers lightening their babies skins- this is cause for serious concern.
There has been increased awareness surrounding the tube creams which contain steroids, hydroquinione and mercury containing creams used 20, 30 years ago to bleach with many people now avoiding those. What has happened is a surge of natural/organic/safe lightening products especially found with the online vendors. These vendors promote their products as safe, side-effect free, 100% natural, and they are anything but that. Egyptian creams, half-caste creams, Russian goddess creams, 1 week wonder creams etc. that end up containing these same steroids, hydroquinone, mercury, even potash, relaxers and worse ingredients. People only start to become aware of what these things contain when the side effects come on.
Eurocentrism still takes some of the blame when it comes to this skin bleaching epidermic, I believe more importantly that we don’t celebrate our uniqueness enough. Our children should know and be told they are beautiful when they are forming their sense of self, so that once they are self aware so they are unmoved by other people’s opinions. We should celebrate diverse types/perceptions of beauty so it’s easier for the younger ones to accept themselves. The seeds of dissatisfaction with skin colour are planted at a very young age, this is when our guidance will have some impact.
We discourage by gentle persuasion. There is nothing else to do, especially when there are no regulations to curb this and these creams can be found in almost every beauty store. We do a lot of talking, educating, sometimes even begging. lol. We show our patients pictures of what their futures will be like if they continue bleaching their skins. Sometimes we are successful, other times not, but we do pass some information across and plant a seed of caution. We talk about it on social media as much as we can.
We have been working on a pet project, 101 Clinical skincare. It is Nigeria’s first doctor-formulated medical-grade skincare line for skin of colour. We have a number of products specifically targeted at nurturing damaged, bleached skin. Before now we didn’t really have medical products that served this purpose readily available for our use. Now we do have succour for these patients. It is difficult to completely fix most bleached skin, but we are able to rejuvenate the skin to some degree.
People are very particular about looks, skin and body image problems can cause a lot of confidence issues. How are you able to meet the needs of patients who are insecure due to skin and body image issues?
Every good clinical outcome starts with a good medical history. A good history will most times reveal the reason why a patient is seeking certain help.
Research has shown that people feel better when they think they look better and this can strongly impact the quality of life. A teenager in his/her formative years being plagued by acne can be affected enough to become socially withdrawn, this social isolation can become a life long struggle, so we manage this acne aggressively and provide a lot of supportive counselling.
We try to know the reason behind everyone seeking a skincare or cosmetic procedure so we can not only manage expectations but counsel and refer to the appropriate specialists if need be. A patient hoping to improve appearance in a bid to get a better job, find or keep a spouse etc. should have expectations managed accordingly. There are people with body dysmorphism, they have a distorted sense of how they look and will never be satisfied. A lot of counselling goes into the work we do in meeting the needs of insecure clients. Thankfully for many we are successful in addressing and meeting those individual needs.
Your clinic runs a strict appointment system. How was this received by clients and how have you been able to get people to keep to time.
This must be the most challenging thing we have had to deal with at the clinic. We describe our facility as “customer-centric”, providing excellent customer care is at the core of our mission as a growing organization.
Our customer care policy states that we keep waiting time to less than 5 minutes for every patient which was why we adopted the Appointment system. This enables us not only save our time, but most importantly the patient’s time. It has been extremely difficult keeping this policy as people just wont adhere to it. We have had situations where 1 patient comes late and as a domino effect makes us see every other patient after them later than their appointments.
What we have now done is give discounts to people that book appointments and come in on time, and simply turn late comers into walk-ins so they wait till there is some free time in between patients. So if you book an appointment and come on time, you pay less, with a less than 5 minute waiting time. If you come in late or you don’t book an appointment at all, you pay more and wait sometimes 4 to 5 hours to be seen. While not perfect, this has helped drastically minimize this “Nigerian time” problem for us.
You are a mum of two boys, how are you able to cope with your hours given that they are quite young?
After beating myself up for so many years. I have come to accept that you can’t have it all at every point in time. Sometimes you will be giving and doing better with your career, at other times it is the family. I have struggled with this balance people talk about and now understand that I will really just make the best of whatever time I have. I work pretty long hours- most doctors do, so I just maximize to the fullest whatever time I can have with the boys . I try to do the school runs myself so I don’t go the whole length of the day without seeing them. I try to create some fun and worthwhile activity around the school runs; we could just branch out and go take ice-cream while talking about our day, sometimes they come stay with me at the office after school, other times we go eat lunch together, anything to make that time quality time, then we maximize our weekends to the fullest. We just try to do as much as we can together every single day. For now I can’t quite have the luxury of freeing up time to stay with them and wait on them, but whatever little free time I have, I involve them in it.
What do you do to de stress and unwind ?
Never thought I would describe myself ever as a homebody, but over the years I have indeed become a homebody. So I unwind by simply staying home, listening to my music and sleeping.
Lastly we can’t let you off without giving us some basic advice for women who want healthy skin.
Oh that’s easy, firstly visit SKIN101 ( laughs) and Secondly make sure you use your sun protection every day!