Ayo Otubanjo, a senior consultant with Vinci Hair Clinic and a partner in the global medical group, Vinci International, in this interview with LYNDA OCHUGBUA, spoke on his inspiration, challenges and prospects in the business. He disclosed reasons for hair loss in women, how it can be controlled, among many other interesting issues. Excerpts:
By way of introduction, may we know you better?
My name is Ayo Otubanjo. I’m a senior consultant with Vinci Hair Clinic and a partner in the global medical group, Vinci International. I’m currently the regional CEO for Africa for the group and responsible for the growth of the brand and expansion of its network of clinics in Africa. I have extensive experience in hair loss diagnosis and treatment having consulted with over 2,000 clients. In addition, I have published many professional articles both online and in newspapers. I have also appeared on several radio and television stations over many years to talk about hair loss causes and treatment options, and we have organised and participated in several forums and symposiums to enlighten, discuss and offer solutions on hair restoration treatments.
What is Vinci Hair Clinic about?
Vinci Hair Clinic is a global hair restoration brand comprising of 33 clinics in 14 countries worldwide with 3 of these clinics located in Africa. These clinics are in Lagos, Abuja, and Accra.
Vinci Hair Clinic specialists apply a unique combination of expertise, understanding of hair loss and artistry in providing our hair restoration treatments. At our Vinci Hair Clinics, we offer effective solutions for men and women with conditions such as male pattern baldness, traction alopecia, thinning and scarring on the scalp amongst many other treatment options. Some of our treatments include micro scalp pigmentation (MSP), hair transplant surgery, medical procedures like platelet rich plasma (PRP) and mesotherapy, as well as supplies of hair loss medications and Laser cap therapy device. Beard and eyebrow hair transplants are also available, where the candidate has the characteristics necessary for successful treatment.
Through our unique Micro scalp pigmentation procedure, we can camouflage completely bald heads by carefully placing medical grade ink pigments into the scalp to resemble hair follicles that give the appearance of a closely shaved hair, giving the impression that you are not bald or thinning but simply have chosen to have a shaved look.
When did the business start?
Vinci Hair Clinic launched its flagship Lagos clinic in September 2014, opening the first hair restoration clinic in Africa, outside South Africa. The clinic is located on Awolowo road in Ikoyi, a prime area in Lagos.
Further to launching our foremost clinic in Lagos, the extensive demands and requests from our esteemed clients in other regions and locations prompted the brand to establish clinics in Abuja and then Accra, Ghana.
What was the inspiration behind the hair clinic here in Africa?
In the past, our clients had to travel abroad, to Europe, the USA or beyond for hair restoration solutions such as Hair Transplants, Micro Scalp Pigmentation, Mesotherapy, PRP treatments, etc.
The rationale for launching the Vinci Hair Clinic brand in Africa was borne out of the need to provide world class hair restoration solutions right here at the doorstep of our clients; saving them time and money, and providing our services in a comfortable, friendly environment, with total confidentiality.
What are the major causes of hair loss?
The reason why certain hair follicles are programmed to have a shorter growth span than others is not well understood. However, several factors may influence hair loss:
· Hormone, such as abnormal level of androgens (male hormones produced by both men and women)
· Genes, from both male and female parents, influence a person’s predisposition to male and female pattern baldness
· Stress, Illness, and Childbirth can cause temporary hair loss Ringworm caused by fungal infection can induce hair loss.
· Drugs, including chemotherapy used in cancer treatment, Blood thinners, thinners beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure and birth control pills, can cause hair loss.
· Burns, Injuries, and X-rays can cause temporary hair loss. In such cases normalcy in hair growth usually return once the injury heals.
· Autoimmune disease may cause Alopecia areata. In alopecia Areata the immune system revs up for unknown reasons and affects the hair follicles. In most people with alopecia areata, the hair grows back with proper medication and early treatment.
· Cosmetic beauty procedures and the application of gum, glue, perms, bleaching and dyeing hair can contribute to overall hair thinning by making the hair shaft thin and weak and brittle. Tight braiding, using rollers or hot curriers, and running hair picks through tight curls can also damage and break hair. However, these procedures don’t normally cause baldness. In most instances’ hair grows back normally if the cause of the damage is discontinued. Still, severe damage to the scalp sometimes causes permanent bald patches.
How can it be corrected and controlled?
Hair loss can be controlled effectively by diagnosing the underlying cause of the hair loss properly and staying away from the factors that might cause more damage to the hair, but more importantly, by watching out for early signs of hair loss such as thinning of the hair, hair breakage etc. Visit any of our clinics (Lagos, Abuja or Accra) for a free consultation as soon as you notice any of the signs and symptoms of hair loss.
In women, most of the recent hairstyles and procedures like wig glue, weavon gum and tight braids amongst others has been proven to cause more harm than good with respect to hair loss. These hairstyles tend to exert so much pressure and tension to the scalp or the roots of the hair, and eventually destroy the hair follicles. These in many cases lead to permanent hair loss if continued for long periods of time.
What treatment options are available to manage hair loss?
Whether you have been worried about balding for some time or have just started to notice signs of hair thinning, Vinci Hair Clinic in Nigeria can help. We offer personalised solutions to male and female hair loss, and start every client’s journey with a free, no-obligation consultation. When you join us for your private hair restoration consultation in Lagos, your Vinci consultant will examine your condition and discuss your options for treatment. We can help you decide whether MSP, FUT hair transplant, PRP, Mesotherapy, medical treatments or Laser-cap therapy device are the right solutions for you.
What latest developments are available in hair restoration procedures?
At the moment, the surgical method (Hair transplant) is the most recent development and the gold standard available in hair restoration. Hair transplant involves the redistribution of hair from the donor area of the recipient to the bald/thinning area. In males, the follicles in the donor area are resistant to the effects of DHT and this genetic trait allows us to remove these follicles and implant them into the recipient area without losing their genetic properties. They will behave as they have been programmed to behave in the donor area they came from and will continue to grow naturally for life. There are two general methods of Hair Transplant. These are the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) the former is best for Caucasian hair while the latter is more suitable for the African hair type. Our Lagos medical team of hair professionals are proud to be the only ones offering this service in the country.
How will you evaluate the business growth since you started?
Over the past five (5) years since we launched our flagship clinic in the Africa region the brand has witnessed expansion into three (3) major cities in Africa namely Lagos, Abuja and Accra.
This expansion was borne out of the aim in providing International standard hair restoration services to clients in major cities in Africa while maintaining the excellence in service delivery, professionalism and confidentiality that global Vinci brand has been known for over decades.
How to stand out from competitors?
At the moment, there aren’t any recognisable competitors in this region, Our Hair Transplant theatre centre in Lagos is the only facility in the west African region carrying out Hair Transplants which is quite understandable owing to the complexity of the procedure and the technical know-how of what we do, however, we welcome competition as it’s what makes businesses grow and enhances innovation.
The only competition we might have at the moment is from clinics in other parts of the world. The fact that we’re taking hair restoration to the major cities in Africa, one city at a time, in our bid to ensuring no one should suffer hair loss, is quite commendable and we intend to continue that so as to ensure Africans can get the most innovative solutions here and not have to travel abroad to get the solutions.
How easy is it getting products and tools for the clinic?
Like I said earlier, Vinci Hair Clinic is a global hair restoration brand comprising of 33 clinics in 14 countries across 6 continents worldwide, so we have a department that handles Purchase, Logistics alongside distribution of product and tools for the clinics with our Africa clinics namely Lagos, Abuja, and Accra inclusive.
What challenges have you faced so far?
Major challenge has been coming up with a well-rounded strategy in getting the information about Vinci hair clinic out there for all with hair loss concerns to know and benefit from our hair restoration procedures. Even with all our campaigns, a lot of people are still not aware we offer these solutions here in Africa.
How have you managed these challenges?
We have embarked on PR campaign from radio station to TV Station and Print media in our bid to bridge this information gap. We have also started a business development partnership across vertical businesses within the beauty and cosmetics space where we render free consultation to their clients with hair loss concerns and prescribe treatment where necessary.
What are the plans for expansion or diversification?
Since our launch in Lagos in Sept 2014, we have expanded to Abuja and Accra in a period of five (5) years, so yes expansion has always been at the heart of what we do at Vinci. In coming years, we are looking at expanding to some other African cities as the clamour from our clients across several countries continues to build up. We can assure them of our resolve to reach as many cities as possible in Africa as part of our bid to ensure no one has to suffer from hair loss in Africa without being aware of the options available.
On the second part of your question on diversification, we currently have innovative research focusing on stem cells ongoing. The stem cells research has to do with taking out a unit of hair follicular graft and replicating it into thousands of units under laboratory environments in turn transplanting this into the bald area. This research will revolutionise hair loss restoration and treatment.