On a normal day, Dr Pranav Pancholi, 36, a cosmetic dermatosurgeon, will be in a shirt, khaki trousers and a pair of loafers.
“My calling is to treat; give health and render happiness, not to make you look a certain way,” he tells us.
Dr Pancholi’s journey towards aesthetic medicine started at the age of 17 when he joined the University of Nairobi to study Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. After graduating in 2004, he interned at Thika District Hospital for about a year-and-a-half.
After graduating from medical school, he enrolled at the University of Liverpool in Britain to study for a diploma in Genitourinary Medicine & Venereology, a branch of medicine dealing with the genitalia and its diseases.
Later on, he would take an interest in skin health, following in his father’s footsteps - his father, Dr Mahendra Pancholi, is a dermatologist, and practices at Pandya Hospital in Mombasa.
“My father’s work probably influenced me,” he explains, even though his choice was more specific: cosmetic dermatology.
He reckons that his experience during teenage also had a role in pushing him towards this career.
“I had self-esteem issues in my teens. I felt like I wasn’t as attractive as my peers due to the shape of my nose; which I was teased for - it was even tough getting a girlfriend,” he says, pointing out that he understands how it feels to feel dissatisfied with one’s looks.
And so he sought to focus on something that would help those who suffer from low self-esteem because they don’t feel attractive.
“I believe that if you want to improve your physical appearance to make you feel good about yourself, there is nothing wrong with that,” he says.
FOLLOW YOUR HEART
In 2009, he was accepted to the Fellowship program in Dermatology at Harvard University. He would also enroll for a diploma in dermatology at the University of Cardiff. Today, among his many academic achievements, he holds a Masters in Medicine (Skin Cancer Surgery) from University of Queensland. Dr Pancholi believes that his skills are needed today more than ever before.
He says: “Everybody deserves to know, feel and trust that they look good. And the truth is that looks matter. Clinical studies have established the fact that attractive people are more likely to get a job than unattractive ones.”
He cites a study that found that 68 per cent of the people one comes across will remember how you look; 25 per cent will remember what you are wearing, while eight or nine per cent will remember what you actually said.
“It is therefore important that one looks and feels beautiful,” he rejoins.
Would he undergo cosmetic surgery? We enquire.
“I am already doing things on my face. If you look at me, I look younger than you though I can tell you’re way younger than I am. I don’t have as many fine lines as you,” he answers.
On a typical day, Dr Pancholi will be seeing patients at his Avane Cosmetic Dermatology clinics here in Kenya or in Uganda. His top treatments are botox and fillers, cool sculpting, a non-surgical body slimming option, ultherapy, a non-surgical skin tightening procedure or laser treatments for stretchmarks, dark spots and permanent hair removal.
More women than men make up his clientele base – out of every 10 patients, he tells us, seven are women. Majority of Dr Pancholi’s work involves treatments that have to do with the hair, the skin, and the nails, mostly without surgery or using laser surgery or employing minimally invasive surgery.
“One day I could be remodeling a face, for instance changing the shape of the nose, removing eye bags, making lips fuller, giving high cheek bones, getting rid of saggy arms, or removing dark spots among other cosmetic operations, or I could be giving typical dermatological treatments for life-threatening conditions like psoriasis, Steven Johnson syndrome and skin cancers like melanoma which can kill within four months, making it a rush against time,” he says.
Dr Pancholi says patients who visit his clinics range from politicians to ‘ordinary’ Kenyans from all walks of life. Sometimes it is a child who has warts or a serious case of eczema.
The cost of the various procedures he offers vary from several hundreds of thousands to a few thousands depending on the need of the client, he explains.
“Cost is very specific to the patient’s specific needs, but the bottom line is that I am more concerned with the health and wellbeing of the patient than the cost of procedure – this is what is demanded of me as a doctor,” he says.
Besides treating, Pancholi is also a trainer at the Beauty Professional Academy.
He teaches how to administer botox, fillers and how to carry out other aesthetic treatments. The Academy has schools in Norway, Russia and Bulgaria, and is now looking to set up a branch in Kenya under Dr Pancholi’s guidance, who is also a member of the World Society of Anti-Aging Medicine.
Though the cosmetologist says he does not believe that human beings are ugly, he insists,
“I like to say beauty is skin deep, but ugliness is to the bone. If you are an ugly person, however nice you look on the outside, you will always be an ugly person, regardless of whether you meet the international mask of beauty standards”.
Is Dr Pancholi’s story interesting enough to prompt you to study cosmetic dermatosurgery? If it is, to get here, you must first undertake undergraduate study in medicine, which means you must be excellent in the sciences.
Thereafter, you need to study dermatology. You must then top that up with laser surgery. Besides these academic qualifications, you also need to be passionate about medicine in general even before you specialise in a specific field.