SKIN IS KING!

Nikhil Ballal

Tell us something about your childhood?
AK-I was born in the same hospital where
you are sitting presently. For me childhood is
equal to chess. The ‘C’ in my childhood
implies ‘C’hess.. It was at the age of three that
I started playing chess. Initially I use to play
with my parents and relatives. At a tender
age I use to defeat people who were ten
times older to me. My family realised my
potential and made me join coaching class. I
use to take lessons from chess champion Mr.
Arun Vaidya. During school days I would not
miss a single chess tournament.
I was so good in this sport that later it
became difficult for me to find people to
play with me. So my mom got me a computer
in 1981 to play chess. Computers were
hardly introduced in India then. Probably I
am the first one to own a computer in Thane!

So when did you decide to become a doctor?
AK-Everyone in my family was doctor
which influenced me to become a doctor. The
commonly used jargons and medical
abbreviations had become a part and parcel
of my life! I use to see my parents and
grandparents discussing in medical terminologies
me and my sister would feel ‘left out’. To
be a part of discussions I decided to take up
medicine. But my interests changed after few
years.

What was your new interest?
AK-It was technology which enticed me
since my childhood. I have always been a
tech savvy person. I love exploring gadgets
and latest technology of the market. I wanted
to pursue a career in computers. Like any
other teenager I was also confused and
perplexed about my life and career. But my
parents ‘prescribed’ me to take medicine and
I accepted the prescription!

How were your college days?
AK-I got admission in DY Patil medical
college. As per the ‘prescription’ given to me
by my parents I started taking lessons in
medicine. The general belief is that medical
curriculum is tough and demands lot of time
and energy. I however completely disagree
with this. As a student of medicine one needs
to love being a doctor otherwise the whole
experience will turn out to be hell for you. If
you define intelligence as memory and logic
abilities, then to become a doctor you need
far less logic than a mathematician but
definitely far more memory abilities than him.

How many hours you would study?
AK-There is a misconception that medical
students study 12 hours a day. I would study
7 hours a day (regular college) and one hour
self-study so it would be like a usual eight
hour shift of any office. Rest of time I would
spend playing cricket. Studies cannot be a
burden or baggage.
In medical school, you learn that
everything is either high yield, or low yield.
Don’t study everything. Just study the bits that
are relevant in clinical practice or will be on
your board exam.

How did TVACHA happen?
AK-Normally after completing MBBS one
pursues MD but that was not the case with
me. It is a long story. After completing my
graduation my love for computers again
popped up in my life. And the urge that I
also wanted to do MBA was still alive. Since
I had taken the ‘prescribed treatment’ of my
parents, this time my mother didn’t stop me
from taking admission in MBA College. I
travelled various places in the world in
search of a good business college. Finally I
got a call from an American college which
was besides the historic twin towers in New
York. I was asked to pay fees on 8/11 but
due to some reason I couldn’t and the
unfortunate ‘9/11 terror mishap’ happened.
I packed my bags realised my foolishness and                                                                                                                         decided to return to India permanently.
After coming back there were two options
before me- Psychiatry or Dermatology. Since
dermatology was new and unexplored I
opted that. It was a risk to start a skin clinic in
Thane then. Had I been in South Mumbai,
Western or Eastern suburbs it would have been
safer but I took the challenge. I knew there
was hardly any awareness and motivation
among the Thanekars to deal with their skin
problems. But I recollected the famous ‘Bata’
story where two sales people who were sent
to the same location for studying the scope of
footwear market. One returned fully dejected
as he saw people walking bare foot. However
the other person came running with joy
announcing the discovery of a virgin market! I
saw Thane as a virgin market! More than that I
wanted to spread happiness among the
people by making them look beautiful!

How were the initial days of Tvacha?
AK-Before starting TVACHA I did a
dermatology course from Somaiya College. I
also went abroad and took dermatology
lessons. Technology used in foreign countries
astonished me. I wanted to introduce the same
technology in India. I started TVACHA in
2005. Initial three months were not that great
there would hardly be one or two patient
visiting our clinic. But I didn’t lose
hopes.
In every family all have different
skin related problems. Irrespective
of their requirements I would
educate them in all aspects. I would
take them on a round in the clinic
showing them the machines and
equipment.

When TVACHA finally took off?
AK-It happened after an article
about TVACHA featured in a
newspaper. That day my phone kept
ringing all day. I got a call from my
clinic informing that patients are
waiting to see me. For the first time I
could see urgency in her tone! I
rushed to clinic and checked more
than 70 patients in a single day.

Which has been your toughest
case?
There was one patient who had
come after doing three surgeries on
his nose by different plastic surgeons
and he was still not satisfied .Initially
I refused to operate his nose as we
are very careful about patients who
repeatedly try to do many things on
a particular sensitive organ or have
unrealistic expectations. After lot of
counselling and multiple visits he
explained he want the bridge of the
nose to be slightly lifted. I explained
him the process. He was
excited and wanted to do it
immediately.
I provided him few links for his
knowledge. He came back after a
week and I did the procedure and
he was very happy. Subsequently
his work performance improved and
he got married within six months.
Today he is a confident person.

How TVACHA has grown over
a period of time?
AK-TVACHA has grown
phenomenally from one branch to
nine branches and that too in just a
decade. Our success formula has
been to -under promise and over
deliver. I broke the routine of any
doctor who usually takes a nap in between his
morning and evening OPDS. In TVACHA
doctors are available 24 by7. My mother and
wife have supported my every decision and
helped me grow and prosper.
Tell us about the happy moments that
your profession has gifted you?
AK-Due to their skin ailments many
patients find it difficult to find a groom or
bride. But taking treatment at TVACHA they
would look more beautiful and eventually get
married. I use to get immense happiness to
attend their weddings and see them smiling
and happy. It gives me a feeling of complete
satisfaction. We have given the best results in
hair gain by using the latest technologies.

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