My big idea: The Treatment Rooms London

Dr Dilan Fernando co-founded a specialist hair transplantation clinic with Dr Roshan Vara. The pair won Hair Restoration Clinic Of The Year in 2023
BizAge Interview Team
Dr Roshan Vara and Dr Dilan Fernando
Dr Roshan Vara and Dr Dilan Fernando

Hi Dr Fernando! What's your elevator pitch?

The Treatment Rooms London is a renowned, surgeon-led hair transplant clinic owned and operated by surgeons. Founded in 2016 by Dr Roshan Vara and Dr Dilan Fernando, The Treatment Rooms London was winner of Best Hair Restoration Clinic in the UK for 2023 at the Aesthetic Medicine Awards. With over 150 five-star reviews, The Treatment Rooms London treats men, women and members of LGBTQ+ communities.

What does the market need it?

The hair transplant market is awash with salesmen, brokers and clinics that cut corners in a patient’s care. This often leaves patients being “sold” a medical procedure that might not be in their best interests and having not be counselled appropriately about the pros and cons of a medical procedure. It's even quite common for hair transplants to be performed by hair transplant technicians who don’t hold a medical degree, even if the surgeon conducted the initial consultation.

The Treatment Rooms’ surgeon-led approach fills this significant care gap in the market. Our focus is on providing top-notch hair transplants by the most experienced professionals in the field - the surgeons who see patients from the beginning of their journey and operate on them throughout their surgery day. This helps to ensure high quality, safe outcomes for those undergoing a hair transplant.

Where is the business today?

We had one goal in mind - to establish a hair transplant clinic that is second to none, and we are proud to say that our new Felsham Road clinic, which opened in November 2023, has helped us achieve just that. Our clinic boasts state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, but at the same time, we strive to provide personalised, surgeon-led treatment that we strongly believe in. My co-founder, Dr Roshan Vara, and I are backed by a team of 10 professionals, and we have successfully performed over 700 surgeries since the inception of our business.

What made you think there was money in this?

Dr Roshan and I are both trained medical professionals. However, it was not until we learned about our friend's unfortunate experience with a botched hair transplant that we considered opening our own hair transplant clinic. The idea sparked while we were relaxing on a beach in Sri Lanka. We were both frustrated by our friend's negative medical encounter, and we knew that we could do a better job with our own medical knowledge. Sadly, our friend's experience was not isolated, and we realised that many people were seeking solutions for bad hair transplant results and searching for safe and reliable clinics led by qualified surgeons.  

Today we treat both paying patients and give back to those who are get unfortunately trapped by the large black market of hair transplant clinics that exist abroad and in the UK. We provide 2 free surgeries a year to repair patients who have undergone a poor transplant elsewhere and are now unable to afford corrective work.

How did you research the niche?

It's a common occurrence for patients to be promised a treatment by a surgeon, only to be given the treatment by a lay person who isn’t medically trained and qualified. This often leads to complications such as an uneven hairline, poorly implanted hair that grows at unnatural angles and potentially worse.

That's why we take pride in being the Winner Hair Restoration Clinic of the Year 2023. Our recognition is a testament to the high-quality service we provide. We specialise in FUE Hair Transplant Surgery and our team of experienced surgeons personally performs each surgery. Our surgeons have years of expertise in the field of hair restoration, and we strive to make the patient experience as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Additionally, we place a great emphasis on post-surgery aftercare, so you can always rely on us for great advice and guidance based on evolving in-clinic research.

What's your biggest strength?

We take pride in being diligent and precise hair transplant surgeons. Every hair is valuable to us, and we put in a special effort to ensure that they survive the procedure and grow into a dense, natural hair transplant result. Our personalised service is of the highest level, and we bring a wealth of medical education and experience to the table. From 2020-2024, I had the honour of sitting on the Executive Committee of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery, upholding and driving its stringent professional code of conduct for hair transplant surgery.

Our clinic is renowned for taking on cases that are traditionally complex or have higher requirements. Whilst many clinics solely focus on male patients our clinic also treats many patients who require repair work or who are undergoing the gender transitioning process. As such, we have trained and honed our team to be highly specialised in catering for a diverse range of patients.

What is the secret to making the business work?

The main challenge in our service-based business is ensuring the quality of care is not compromised as our team grows. Both Dr Vara and I started the business on the premise of giving patients not only the highest quality surgery but also an experience to go alongside it. One of risks of growing and expanding is losing the ethos you first started out with when creating the idea initially.

One of the main secrets is being always communicative with our team and having a long on-boarding process where our values and modes of practice are taught 1-1 with any new staff member no matter the role they are being hired into. This cascading of our business fundamentals has meant our team works as a cohesive unit and it’s not uncommon for tasks to get done without someone prompting another. It also makes it easier for the entire team to adopt new principles that are beneficial to our patients and the business, as there is a collective effort for everyone to work towards the greater goal.

How do you market the company?

Depending on the industry that you operate in there are so many ways to market yourself. We set out to be a premium hair transplant clinic and as such our marketing efforts needed to match this. We have trialled social media and certain traditional and non-traditional advertising methods but it didn’t resonate with our clinic nor did it provide an ROI we were looking for.  

We have settled on an organic growth strategy led by patient word of mouth and Google search. This has meant we have been able to hone in house patient experiences that result in patients talking about us more- there no other more powerful way to market yourself that someone talking about you and showing off the quality of work with their hair!  

We’ve also partnered with professional PR consultancy to expand the reach and impact of our message pertaining to the significance of hair transplants and the need for increased education and awareness around it. This is even more important in a world where there is mixed and incorrect messaging around hair loss and hair transplant surgery.  

What funding do you have? Is it enough?

We didn’t have any private funding but instead sought out an initial bank business loan to start our business. Since then, we have grown organically and saved up capital to expand our business in areas we wanted to focus on. We weren’t keen on taking on external investment for equity share, we were advised early on in our business that “debt is cheaper than equity in the long run”. This may not apply to all business and industries but actually held true for ours and so we’ve stuck with the principle.  

Tell us about the business model

Our clinic prices its hair transplants around the amount of work someone requires. The average price for surgery tends to range between £5,000- £7,000 and we operate between 4-8 times a week. The schedule we have is seasonal, with the peak season being between September and April as most patients take advantage of a longer holiday period and time without social engagements to recover easier.  

The business model revolves around having 2 surgeons in our clinic gives us the ability to operate on 2 patients simultaneously with the same cost margin. This results in an improved gross profit margin if we operate on more than 1 patient a day and hence we schedule surgeries on specific days of the week to allow for this.  

Are there any technologies you've found useful?

I personally have a background is in Neurosurgery, Neuroscience and NeuroPsychology. I was previously a fellow of Neurosurgery in King’s College Hospital. Since being a student, I have always taken an active interest in hair loss.  

Dr Vara’s background is in Acute Medicine and Surgery. He has worked in hospitals throughout London and took an active interest in all facets of patient care.

What is the future vision?

Many clinics rise and fall in a short few years. We are here to stay. We want to educate more and more patients around safe and quality hair transplant surgery. Our future vision is to be the go-to clinic for patients, broadcasters and publicly facing individuals based on trust we have developed over the years we have operated for.  

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
May 15, 2024
Written by
May 15, 2024