The Path to Perfect Skin. Dr Puneet Gupta is the Skin Doctor at The Private Clinic of Harly Street. He is one of the most sought after specialists when it comes to treating Black and Asian skin, with some patients travelling hundreds of miles to see him; sometimes from as far away as India.
So why is his know-how so revered, especially amongst the Asian community? Perfect Magazine cought up with Dr Gupta at his Harley Street base to find out.
Thank you for taking the time to meet us. I understand you are still very busy despite the recession…
Yes, I am. My lists are fuller than ever and now I consult out of London, Manchester and Birmingham. The recession doesn’t really seem to have had an impact on the non-invasive cosmetic industry, or certainly not in my experience so far.
Why do think that is?
I think is a combination of factors. Firstly, people who may have previously opted for surgical procedures now know that they can get similar results with non-invasive treatments like the ones I performs at The Private Clinic. Secondly, when a skin condition is causing an individual huge loss of confidence or embarrassment, or impacting on their lives in some other negative way, then they will want to get it fixed as soon as possible, recession or not.
What percentage of patients that you treat are Asian, and what are the most common skin complaints they come to you with?
I would say about 50% of my patients are Asian. The most common skin complaints they come to me with are acne or acne scarring and hyper pigmentation, which is when a darker patches of skin appear on the face or other parts of the body. These conditions are particularly common for people with Asian skin, but the good news is that there are effective treatments out there which can help, and people should consult with an experienced medical practitioner to find out the options available to them. However, before booking an appointment it is very important to do your research to find a practitioner who has experience of treating Asian skin, as darker skin tones are more difficult to treat than paler complexions. I have seen several patients who have come to me having had a negative experience elsewhere, but in experienced hands treatment such as the Pixel and NLite lasers are perfectly safe and very eefective for the treatment of Asian skin.
What do you think about the pressure on people to look a certain way? Do you think the cosmetic industry contributes to that?
People come to see me for all different reasons and have many different motivation. For those with a skin condition such as acne, keloid scars, or pigmentation problems, many of then have suffered for years with quite debilitating effects. I have had many patients who, once treated, tell me that it has been literally life changing. Of course there is pressure, particularly on women, to look a certain way, whether that be from seeing size 0 models in magazines or looking at airbrushed pictures of line-free celebrities in advertisements. But with the skin rejuvenation treatments that I give to patients the aim is always to create a natural looking result; no to make someone look years younger that they are, but to help them feel the best that they can, whatever their age. it is important to set realistic expectations at the outset so that patients know what to expect. Of course you cannot stop the ageing process and I wouldn’t claim to try!
On a similar theme, there seems to have been an increase in the number of Asian women using skin whitening and lightening creams or seeking treatments form skin experts. Why do you think that is?
Again, there are some outside influences – the big Bollywood stars have very fair Asian skin toes, foe example. But I think it is also down to a deeply engrained mindset, in much the same way that people with white skin want to achieve the tanned look, Asian and black women have a fascination towards lighter and fairer skin. It seems to be that people want what the can’t/don’t have.
Are skin lightening creams effective? And are there any dangers involved when using them?
It can be very dangerous to try skin whitening/lightening creams without the supervision of a qualified and experienced medical practitioner, and, in my opinion they should only be used to treat specific pigmentation problems such as melasma. If used unsupervised, and for a prolonged period of time, DIY creams can increase the chances of contracting skin cancer and may lead to a condition known as Ochronisis, which is bluish grey discolouration of the skin.
And lastly, as it is January, I wondered if you could give us some tips for looking after skin during the harsh winter months?
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise. The wind and cold and going in-and-out of central heated buildings can really dry your skin out and so to keep it well hydrated you must use a good moisturiser and also make sure you are drinking plenty of water. And it may sound silly to say this in the middle of winter, but sun screen is also important. Even on very cold days it is worth protecting yourself against the sun’s powerful rays.