Reaching out to the world

Dr. Mukesh Batra of Dr. Batra's

In your opinion, what's the best way to get rid of acne scars and for hair removal?

Acne is a hormonal problem. It can come from dandruff, especially on the back and chest areas. When dandruff falls on these areas and causes irritation, it can cause acne. So it’s important to find the internal cause before treating the problem. The treatment will be medical, not cosmetic. One has to find medical reason, be it polycystic ovaries or any other reason. Preventive measures are important: if you sleep well, drink a lot of water, and just apply minimal or no makeup because that blocks the pores, it can make all the difference.

For hair removal, there is no oral medication. It has to be a cosmetic procedure.

What are the major ways in which skin and hair are affected by climate and pollution, particularly in an Indian scenario? What advice do you have to maintain skin and hair in Indian climate, and to protect it from pollution?

Basically, with hair and skin very often it’s an early reflection of internal disease. Diabetes can cause dry hair. Thyroid imbalance makes hair oily. But yes, environment plays a huge role as well. In the rains you lose hair as a lot of chlorine is added. In the summer, in the bright Indian sun, we are not used to utilising Sun Protection Creams. UV rays affect skin and cause pigmentation, dermatitis, eruptions, etc. One must avoid direct sunlight, use a skin cover. It also helps to wash your hair with bottled water, at less frequent intervals. With this kind of preventive treatment and holistic treatment, you can overcome these issues.

Where does homoeopathy stand with respect to ayurveda or allopathy in the Indian scenario?

In the world context, homoeopathy is the 2nd most used medication. It’s probably the same in india as well. It is a 2500+ crore industry which is going at about 30% back to back for the past 5 years. It has been displaying 3 times as much growth as other medical sectors.

Dr. Batra’s is a brand with a conscience – how do you maintain the balance?

It comes from a way of life. It has nothing to do with a planned strategy. As a doctor I always felt that you kind of become insensitive to people’s needs because you see so much pain. But it should not be so. At Dr. Batra’s we make sure all doctors go out and work on people who are less fortunate. This takes them out of air conditioned rooms and enables them to see what the world is really like. In this way, they value what they have as well. Basically it’s the service industry, so we must serve people; service is a way of life. When you reach out to other people, you serve yourself as well. There is so much pain and sickness out there, and as doctors we can give treatment to people who can’t afford it. We’ve seen people who’ve taken so many loans to afford medication, and the patient dies anyway and whole family is repaying loans. It’s so simple to just reach out to people. We’ve been working with animals in Delhi with Maneka Gandhi’s People for Animals group. We have provided homoeopathic treatment to 1100 dogs. We are also involved with old age homes, we work with the mentally challenged in Lucknow, and blind people in Bombay. All of this is inbuilt into our brand. We have a 1% formula – all employees give 1% of their salary, and company gives 1% of the net profit to the foundation. So the more we grow, the more money is available for charity, which becomes a driving force.

What are the pre- and post- surgical measures to be taken with respect to daycare aesthetic surgeries like Botox fillers, scar removal and others?

All of these are day surgeries. Most are hair transplantations. Before the surgery, every patient is screened. Every candidate is not ideal, so screening is important. Cosmetic surgery has to look at aesthetics. A lot of visualisation is required, one must visualise how a patient will look 5-10 yrs from now in order for it to be effective. Patients need to be medically fit so a medical test has to be done. Pre-screening is done one day before. Otherwise it’s a simple surgery. You’re watching TV, talking on the phone, eating lunch, all under local anaesthesia. A lot of these surgeries and are called “office hours surgery” or “coffee break surgeries”, the latter term has been used to promote cosmetic surgery in the West. There’s very little that has to be done, actually. Post-surgery, don’t wash your hair, and within 7 days remove stitches. After this you can do whatever you want including bungee jumping. In 6 months time or so the hair begins to grow and will not fall again.

Do you find the Indian market more open to such procedures as opposed to perhaps, a decade ago?

Certainly, there is a lot of awareness. There’s a cost factor but it’s much cheaper in India and prices have crashed. There are two points, however:

1. I believe that people are still scared of surgeries, they don’t like going to operation theatre, etc. So that fear factor is still there.
2. Just because there’s a demand, a lot of unscrupulous people are into it. I won’t be surprised if beauty parlours or so called cosmetologists who have a diploma through correspondence provide these facilities. This can generate bad word of mouth: “I went to get this done, it was bad”, but it’s mostly because you went to the wrong person. If you go to the right person, it would always work. Unqualified people practice, and this is bad.

Does India have the potential to create medical tourism around cosmetic surgery, such as Singapore?

It has a huge potential, and I’m sure we’ll get there. But there is still the foreign fear of Indian infections. Indian doctors are fabulous, but people are scared of catching infections from non sterile clinical surroundings. Post op care should be good. Everybody accepts that Indian doctors are fabulously skilled and work at low prices. But the perception, especially abroad, is that low prices don’t mean high quality. That perception has to change. We need people to choose India not because it’s cheaper - but also because it is better. Right now it’s only price which draws patients, but it should be quality and price. Foreigners at the moment have no comfort level in coming to India be it for security reasons or the political atmosphere. It could simply just be the fear or “will I get infected, are the operation theatres clean?” as well. To go ahead with medical tourism we have to set so much right. Infrastructure is poor, one has to wait hours at the airport. If I’m being harassed when I enter the country, why would I go there even if it has the best hospital? Politicians and economists have to realise this has huge potential. It also builds up tourism because with one patient, 4 family members arrive. It should be a happy place to come to where they won’t get harassed or cheated.

What remedies do you suggest for weight management/dermatology?

There are no specific methods. Holistic treatment works best. Homeopathy believes everything is interlinked. For example, eating is very often an emotional need – if you are disappointed in love, or unhappy, eating provides emotional compensation. When you have kids you can’t manage, you give them money to go to Big Mac and eat. Food is a comfort thing. Emotional needs like this lead to behavioural problems. This in turn creates a lifestyle disorder.

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