Senior Hair Loss Consultant at Vinci Hair Clinic Nigeria & Ghana, Ayo Otubanjo is also a partner in the global medical group, Vinci International, in this interview with GABRIEL OLAWALE, he spoke on his inspiration, challenges and prospects in the business. He disclosed reasons for hair loss, how it can be controlled, among many other interesting issues. Excerpts:
Why do many people suffer hair loss?
Hair loss affects millions of men and women each day and research carried out by dermatologists affirm that 1 in 2 men will experience hair loss in their lifetime whilst 1 in 4 women will suffer from hair loss or thinning hair. In addition, a third of women of African descent have traction alopecia (a form of hair loss due to the pulling of the hair at the edges).
It is estimated that both men and women spend over $3.5billion yearly in an attempt to treat and restore their hair. Sadly, this huge sum of money is mostly spent on unqualified individuals, unsuitable products and unproven treatments that rarely give positive results. In addition, there are many hair loss myths and misconceptions in Africa that continue to make it harder for sufferers to get professional expertise in treating hair loss.
What motivated you into hair loss treatment and restoration?
For several years I always had issues with baldness but found ways to camouflage it, in most cases by adopting a skin cut. However, a chance encounter with the global CEO of Vinci Hair Clinic at an exclusive private members’ club in London was opportune, and he invited me to join the partnership.
When I first came back to Nigeria about 8 years ago, I was astounded that there was not a single hair restoration clinic in the whole of Nigeria despite seeing so many people, both men and women with, in some cases, quite significant hair loss issues. I decided then that I had to set up Vinci in Africa, starting in Nigeria.
Your advice to people currently experiencing hair loss?
The first rule of thumb is the earlier you identify the hair loss and contact a specialist, the better your chances of fully recovering your hair and the cheaper the solution. Sometimes, thinning hair might just require simple medication to restore. Even when the hair loss has progressed significantly, other solutions such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, mesotherapy, corticosteroid injections and ultimately hair transplant surgery are all available treatment options for the vast majority of people.
As the only hair restoration clinic in Nigeria, how do you feel?
Being the sole provider of hair loss restoration treatments in Nigeria has not made us complacent, in fact, we have imported the competitive spirit and sense of excellence of our founding clinic in the UK by focusing on intensive and ongoing training of our local staff to bring them up to international standards. We want our clients to enjoy the same standards of service and excellence they would undoubtedly expect when they go abroad to Europe or the US for these procedures.
In fact, we have had many clients start their procedures abroad and complete them in Nigeria and vice versa seamlessly. This goes to show that Vinci operates a global set of standards that all the clinics, including those in Nigeria must adhere to.
Our challenges are not that much different from what most businesses faced in Nigeria such as expensive operating cost base, rigid and bureaucratic regulations, lack of regulatory transparency, and sometimes finding good quality and motivated staff. In addition, the lack of knowledge and myths and misconceptions around hair loss and restoration means most people are sometimes very sceptical of our treatments.
We are managing these challenges through awareness creation, breaking down some of these myths and misconceptions. An example of this is promoting the fact that August is a global Hair Loss Awareness Month.
How will Vinci Hair Clinic be championing the Global Hair Loss Awareness Month in Africa?
We have a series of events and promotional activities during August where we will educate people and talk about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on hair loss. We will also be hosting the very first African Global Hair Loss Awareness Conference on August 22nd, which is shaping up to be quite exciting with contributions from both homegrown and international hair loss experts.
Your company’s vision and expectation in the next one year?
In Nigeria, we are hoping for an improved economic environment in the next year which would increase the population’s disposable income, and make our services and products more affordable for the vast majority of Nigerians.