“Aim to deliver high quality treatments at an affordable price.”
Dr. Tauqir Ahmad is the founder and CEO of London Aesthetics & Rejuvenation Centre (LARC) and was one of the first practitioners in the UK to start practicing the injections of Botox. As of now, he has mouthful centers throughout the world with bespoke treatments which are all evidence-based on common aesthetic conditions. The company being an international chain provides a comprehensive range of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic treatments.
Following are the edited transcripts of a conversation with Dr. Tauqir Ahmad that revolved around the scope and development of aesthetic medicine in Pakistan:
BR Research: There are many technological advancements in the field of aesthetic medicine over the past few years. What factors are affecting the growth of demand for these aesthetic treatments globally?
Dr. Tauqir Ahmad: I think there is an increased awareness generally amongst the pubic about these invasive and non-invasive aesthetic processes and cosmetic treatments. In addition, social media has played a massive role in the rise in demand and awareness.
BRR: In comparison to what's happening globally, where does Pakistan stand in terms of acceptability as well as procedures, practices, and R&D?
TA: With regards to procedures, Pakistan is now performing those procedures which are performed internationally. I can’t comment much on practices but there are a lot of new kids on the block and practice does need to be monitored. With regards to R&D, I don’t think we are anywhere near the forefront in Pakistan at all. Here at London Aesthetics, we have an entire team dedicated to R&D which is part of our international portfolio. We work extensively with various partners to constantly seek the latest advances in aesthetics. With regards to practices, we adopt the best medical practice according to the General Medical Council (GMC) guidelines set out in the UK.
Our mission is to achieve excellence in aesthetics and to be at the forefront of research and development of new treatments. We want to establish protocols based on evidence-based medicine and scientific research and provide personalized bespoke treatments for our patients as well as taking responsibility for our results.
BRR: What is stem cell therapy and how is it assisting aesthetic procedures? We hear that you are also bringing something to the table.
TA: Stem cell therapy - also known as regenerative medicine involves regenerating the disease process; and in aesthetic medicine that focuses on altering cosmetic appearance, it can help with anti-ageing, wrinkle therapies, hair loss psoriasis, vitiligo, etc. Stem cell therapy is a great treatment because it not only treats the condition but also treats the root cause of that condition as well.
We at London Aesthetics & Rejuvenation Centre (LARC) have collaborated with the world’s leading stem cell therapy, R3 Stem Cell International to introduce the stem cell therapy treatments in Pakistan. R3 Stem Cell International is the US Leader in stem cell therapy with over 16,000 successful procedures performed in the last 8 years.
It is not the first time that stem cell therapy will be used in Pakistan, however it is the first time that an internationally accredited stem cell center is going to be operating in Pakistan. Stem cell therapies available in Pakistan are substandard with poor quality stem cells which are being used inappropriately. With this collaboration, LARC will be offering R3 Stem Cell regenerative procedures in Lahore and Faisalabad to begin with.
BRR: Can you elaborate what are LARC's objectives with this collaboration? Will you be undertaking any kind of research in Pakistan to develop economically viable therapies and diagnostic kits?
TA: LARC’s objectives are to deliver high quality treatments at an affordable price to the population of Pakistan. We are researching the possibility of being able to develop in house stem cells in Pakistan. However, this is a very costly process and does require compliance with a lot of regulations, but we are looking into this and will probably not implement for at least the next 12 months.
BRR: Which countries are best in stem cell therapy and treatment? Can you give some examples of developing countries where stem cell therapy has helped in illnesses as well as in aesthetic procedures and treatments?
TA: The USA and UK are very good examples. In developing countries, South East Asia is well ahead of the game for stem cell therapies. I think South East Asia is probably better than the UK/USA.
BRR: The laws of microeconomics explain how prices affect consumer purchasing decisions; What is you pricing strategy for Pakistan?
TA: At the moment the pricing strategy in Pakistan is one third of the price of the USA
BRR: Growth in non-surgical treatments and other aesthetic procedures increases the need for consumer protection and also has to address the ethical aspect. How do you take care of that? Do you have any global regulation as a guiding principle?
TA: The only protection the consumer has here are the consumer courses offered in Pakistan. However, there is good medical practice where we should be advising the patient in advance about what is a realistic outcome, what is required/not required etc. I think in Pakistan, there really is not any kind of formal regulatory guideline and our principles at London Aesthetics are based on good international medical practice. As I mentioned, we adopt the best medical practice according to the GMC guidelines set out in the UK.
BRR: Aesthetic practitioners often face the dilemma of fulfilling the demands of every patient. Do you count this as a major challenge? What other challenge does aesthetic medicine or stem cell therapy for that matter face.
TA: We don’t consider London Aesthetics fulfilling the demands of every patient and thus it’s not a major challenge because our initial consultation is based on assessing the patient’s needs; evaluating the patient’s expectations to see if they are reasonable and moving forward with that; and discussing a percentage outcome and improvement of what they are expecting. The same applies to stem cell therapy.
BRR: In terms of career, how similar or different is the education path for an aesthetic physician. And do med-schools/ universities or any post-grad institutes in Pakistan offer any diploma or certification in aesthetic medicine? If not, what is needed to educate and train physicians/surgeons here?
TA: The education path in Pakistan is zero. People are attending one-to-two-day courses only. They travel to Dubai for one-to-two-day courses and that’s it. That is why I say that the practices need to be monitored. However, in the UK, Australia etc. there are colleges in Aesthetic Medicine providing proper training, examination and fellowships which is something that needs to be set up here in Pakistan as well.
BRR: What are your plans for Pakistan both in terms of aesthetic medicine and stem cell therapy going forward?
TA: Our plans for Pakistan and stem cell therapy are to have major flagship centers in the regional capitals of the 4 main provinces with smaller satellite centers in the smaller cities. We would like to provide aesthetic centers, which are known for their cosmetic excellence and stem cell centers that are known for their excellence in regenerative medicine, giving patients a realistic expectation of what can and cannot be managed within the remit of these therapies.