Beauty is not all about salons and treatments, creams and therapies, it’s also about the right decision about the skin as well, how you take care of it and vice versa.
This month Fashion Collection has young and intelligent dermatologist Laiba Sheikh to know the ins and outs of cosmetic surgeries, dermatology and how people in Pakistan receive it.
Fashion Collection: Walk us through your career.
Laiba Sheikh: I actually wanted to become a pilot. However, my mother has remained a force behind big decisions of my life and she wanted me to become a doctor. It was also a societal pressure too that people still do not appreciate females being pilots and engineers. In the East, families have a stereotypical mindset; a girl should be a doctor, and a boy should be an engineer.
That also affected my decision. So, I became a doctor. I was born and raised in Dubai but I came to Pakistan to study doctorate at Sir Syed Medical College. Even after becoming a doctor, I could not choose the subject I wanted to continue, and that was neurology. Since Neurology has long surgeries and hours of stay at the hospital and my family was not ok with it as the city’s situation is always uncertain and females being out of the house is considered unsafe, which is true to some extent. So I had to drop that option too. I pursued dermatology which was a safe option.
FC: Who was your mentor?
LS: Doctor Mazhar Nizam, a plastic surgeon, is my mentor. He guided me through and under his guidance I prospered in this field. He would suggest courses to get to know more about dermatology and excel in this subject. I did my aesthetics from the American Board of Aesthetics. I got my training from Rivalry Hills. Now I am doing clinical dermatology.
FC: Where do you practice mostly?
LS: I was practicing in Pakistan. But now I want to go a step ahead and open my own clinic in Dubai and Pakistan as well.
FC: Since you said that you have been practicing in Pakistan as well. There are a lot of doubts and myths related to the skin treatments in Pakistan which is why going to a dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon seems to be an option only for the elite.
LS: To be honest, I had clients from the upper middle class more than the higher class. People from this specific class do their research and have questionnaires ready and know very well what is going on. They want to look beautiful. As everyone is going white these days, they also want to follow that trend just like people follow clothing trends to a level that if, as a doctor, whatever I would recommend they would go for that treatment without thinking for a second.
FC: Many cases of wrong surgeries have been reported online. Where is the fault?
LS: The majority of the doctors are foreign-qualified. This gives them an edge to speak well about everything, skin, bones, and everything possible. I am not saying that they can not talk about anatomy but they should excel in their specialization. I have seen and know a lot of dentists who are doing facial surgeries. Dentists do study face and neck anatomy but that does not permit them to go for surgery since it requires specialization. If a patient has come to a dentist asking them for a butt lift, the doctor should decline but I know a lot of dentists who do it because they think they can and they are good at it until anything goes wrong. I know many aestheticians who are not doctors and they are openly doing treatments for which they medically do not qualify.
FC: Why people would go to them when they know qualified cosmetic surgeons, and dermatologists?
LS: Because they find it cheaper there. And when the treatment goes wrong then they rush to qualified cosmetologists and dermatologists to get it fixed. The ones who are doing these treatments should know which muscle to inject, the amount and the timing.
FC: Many celebrity fillers have gone wrong. Actors and actresses have to be on the screen, is there any antidote that could fix issues within hours?
LS: The filler side effects are quite fatal but there are antidotes in the market which can help reverse the side effect. There are antidotes available that affect within 48 hours.
FC: Since you practice between Dubai and Pakistan, what difference do you see in your client?
LS: Patients are more aware in Dubai and abroad. In Pakistan, we need to educate people about what’s good and what’s not. Why they can not have the treatment they wish for and this process of educating them is extremely exhausting. Also, people want to get treatments but they do not want to spend money. They have this bargaining strategy in mind all the time.
FC: Why is there a concept that once you get any treatment, you are bound to get it for a lifetime? Is it addictive or mandatory?
LS: Aesthetics are very addictive. Once you plan to get treatment then you want to get it again and again. It might not be the need of the time, but who doesn’t want to have the face of their desire? Botox stays for four months, then you get back to your normal skin. Whereas, slimming and scaring treatments require sessions every after fifteen days. It depends that the patients want to just experience a certain change in their face or body or if they want it permanently.
FC: People want instant results. How frustrating is that?
LS: It is extremely annoying. We have to be more patient than the patient who comes to us. They want immediate results, especially after skin and hair treatments. The fact is that result starts to come after three to four sessions and that too depends on the skin type and other things. Botox and fillers often leave bruises for a while and these bruises require time and patients need to be patient but they panic about it.
FC: Please share your first experience as a dermatologist.
LS: I did my first filler in three hours. The patient thought that I am being very precise but I was actually scared. My teacher left me all on my own. And I think that is the reason I have learned. This was my first experience and I was quite scared.
FC: What is more challenging? Surgeries or fillers?
LS: I think procedures like fillers are easy to do as they are noninvasive and complications chances are lesser. In surgeries, we put the patient on anesthesia, and getting the patient back to consciousness requires careful treatment and it’s a long procedure as well as risky. Having said that technology has progressed so much that surgeries have also become easier.
FC: People usually dread the silicon that is used in implants, they think it will melt inside, not suitable for lactating mothers, and many other consequences.
LS: This is not the case. The way these silicons are made they do not have any side effects. Your body would not be in the same shape once the silicon is out and that is the only side effect I can think of, otherwise none.
FC: There is a ‘fashion’ for getting whitening injections because we think white is beautiful. What do you have to say about it?
LS: I personally do not encourage people for whitening injections and at times tell them that they do not need it for which they think that their time and money are wasted getting an appointment with me as I did not do as they said or recommended any treatment. Whitening injections are cancer-causing and the reason is that when we keep injecting whitening injections into our skin, the natural melanin amount in our skin protects us from cancer. When we inject whitening the amount of melanin starts decreasing and our skin becomes prone to cancer.
FC: What does the whitening injection have?
LS: It is an antioxidant that was made for cancer treatment and to expel chemo toxins from the human body. It does not have any side effects but overdoing can cause side effects such as skin sensitivity towards sun rays because you are killing the melanin, the natural protection in your body by injecting whitening injections. I would still say that people should not go for whitening treatments as it is not good in the long run.
FC: What do you advise people who are planning for treatments?
LS: I would advise you that always do your homework and go to the right dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon so you do not regret it. Also, choose your treatments wisely; acne-prone skin should never come under Hydra facials or micro-needling as the acne is going to get worst.