Meet the hair restoration expert whose innovative technique is now used all over the world
An academically excellent student and a gold medalist, Dr Arika Bansal always wanted to become a hair transplant surgeon. After completing MBBS in dermatology from Lady Hardinge Medical College, where her thesis was accorded the best research paper in the country in 2007, she co-foundedin Gurgugam with Dr Pradeep Sethi in 2008.
Her eureka moment came in 2013 when her research paper on ‘Direct Hair Transplant (DHT)’ was published in a highly reputed peer-reviewed scientific paper ‘Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery’ and critically acclaimed by the medical fraternity.
“DHT quickly became the de-facto procedure for hair transplants throughout the globe and got us international recognition, and we started being regarded among the best five hair restoration centres in the world,” Dr Arika tells HerStory.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
HS: What motivated you to start Eugenix Hair Sciences?
Dr Arika: Launching Eugenix Hair Sciences was always a dream of mine. Even before I started my post-graduation studies, I had a clear objective – to open a world-class hair restoration centre in India and provide an unparalleled service quality that leaves our customers delighted. That dream of opening a state-of-the-art centre was manifested in 2008 and our research on DHT put us on the global map in 2013.
Today, 60 percent of our patients come from overseas, and patients who used to fly abroad for better services have now started visiting us instead. It’s a remarkable feat for us, and to be among the world’s best five, is the cherry on top.
HS: Tell us about the DHT technique that you have developed and how has it changed hair restoration in the country?
Dr Arika: The DHT technique that we pioneered in 2013 has revolutionised hair transplant procedures forever.
DHT technique is vastly superior to other procedures. The most significant difference is that it provides a quicker turnaround time, which means that hair is transplanted quickly as the hair follicles are simultaneously removed and implanted in the scalp within seconds. This ensures that the removed hair does not spend a long time out of the body, thereby providing nearly a 100 percent success rate. And since the technique allows for more control on the depth, angle, and direction of the implanted follicles, it results in a truly natural hairline that is undetectable to the naked eye.
HS: What would you say have been your top achievements in your profession?
Dr Arika: I’m a member of many organisations, including the Indian Medical Association (IMA), American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons (ISHRS), and International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS). I’m also a fellow of the prestigious Diplomate of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery, ABHRS.
It takes years of commitment and hard work to be recognised by these organisations, and it does help one gain credibility and is indicative of one’s achievements. However, pioneering the DHT technique along Dr Pradeep Sethi is a substantial achievement for me, with the biggest yet to come. We are currently researching stem cell based hair restoration, which would be my biggest achievement when our research is successful.
HS: Do you think that the reason behind an increasing number of people getting hair transplants is due to stereotypes against receding hair?
Dr Arika: Stereotypes do play a role and there might be a correlation between them and hair transplant, but there are several other reasons why hair transplant procedures are on the rise.
It usually takes up to two to four weeks to recover from a hair transplant procedure, and patients generally avoid being social during this time and do not let others know about their hair restoration. However, they need to step out for work and other tasks that need their attention which unmasks their cover.
The lockdown was the essential social cover that prospective patients had been waiting for because now, they could recover privately and at the comfort of their home, with only a handful of people to interact with on an everyday basis. Many grabbed this window of opportunity and it has resulted in a massive spike in demand for our services.
Secondly, modern times are stressful, and young people are often short of time to cook a nutritious meal, exercise regularly, and take proper care of themselves. We also live in a digital reality, where many people place their self-worth on how they compare to others on social media. Also, thick luscious hair is associated with youth and success, especially in men. All these factors have created a demand for hair restoration.
HS: While STEM subjects are most popular amongst young girls, there is a huge gap in terms of women professionals in tech and science. This gap widens as one progresses towards leadership roles. How do you view this and what are your suggestions to address it?
Dr Arika: On the professional front, men have predominantly taken up STEM-based careers and they dominate the field as a result. While women have been entering the field for some time, the scale is still tipped towards men, and achieving gender diversity still requires a lot of work. At some point in their careers, women in this field, especially in leadership positions, do come across a glass ceiling. But over the years, more and more women have been able to break that ceiling and have progressed in their careers.
Secondly, after marriage, women are expected to take care of their home and hence, resign from their jobs. It is an orthodox take on gender roles, and we have seen that understanding being challenged with many men opting to take up responsibilities at home instead and resigning from their jobs, while women continue in their careers.
To promote gender balance in leadership positions, not just in STEM fields but everywhere, we need to encourage women to break that glass ceiling at work. We need women who are in positions of power to show that it is achievable.
Edited by Kanishk Singh