Dr Leah Totton
When Dr Leah Totton entered herself for BBC’s The Apprentice she never imagined she would make it to the show, let alone that business mogul Lord Alan Sugar would point at her after a nail-biting final and say, “You are going to be my business partner”. Her business plan to start a chain of aesthetic clinics across the UK was labelled a “risky” one and was unlike any other that had been pitched on the hit TV show but, as Sugar himself pointed out, you never get anywhere in business without taking risks.
Fast forward a few months and the first Dr Leah Clinic has opened it in the heart of the City of London, with the media spotlight firmly on the young doctor and her ambitious plans to take the aesthetics industry by storm. But it has not been a smooth or easy ride.
Lord Alan Sugar with Dr Leah Totton at the clinic opening
Dr Totton’s youth and perceived inexperience, both as a doctor and in the aesthetics industry, meant she came under a lot of criticism and scrutiny in the aftermath of the show. However, the articulate and driven young doctor was on a mission to prove her critics wrong as she boldly opened the clinic on her 26th birthday.
“It is a difficult thing to launch a business, particularly in this industry, so to do that in the media glare has been challenging,” she says. “Post Apprentice it was very difficult to hear the negative criticism. People watched a heavily edited version of events, so I’m not sure if what I am really about as a medical professional and what we are about as a company and as a brand really came across.”
It has only been in the months that have followed, she says, that she has been able to make it clear that her plan is not for “some sort of walk-in turnstyle Botox clinic”.
“We are about clinical excellence and making sure these treatments are carried out in the right environment by appropriately trained medical professionals,” she adds.
A self-confessed perfectionist, it is Totton’s drive and ambition to be the best that is underpinning everything she does at the clinic, from the treatments and products she has chosen to the mentors and industry experts she has brought on board to help her drive the business forward. The multi-disciplinary team includes Dr Martyn King, who runs Midlands-based Cosmedico Clinic, as medical director; BAAPS consultant plastic surgeon Mr Taimur Shoaib as head of training, and specialist nurse prescriber Lorna Bowes as chair of the Dr Leah Clinic clinical standards board.
On the menu
For any new clinic, finding the right product mix is paramount and Totton was keen to offer only treatments with strong safety records and scientific proof. The four-treatment-room clinic will offer a full range of face and body cosmetic procedures, including advanced facials, skin analysis consultations, 3D rotational diamond microdermabrasion, skin peels, needling, radiofrequency, phototherapy, cosmetic injectables, treatment for hyperhidrosis and non-surgical fat reduction. This comprehensive menu marks a stark deviation from her original business plan to offer only injectables and peels.
She comments, “I wanted to only offer established treatments and I have stayed true to that ethos but one thing that I did realise post Apprentice was that we have quite a young following of ladies in their early or mid 20s so we needed to have a more diverse offering.
“We really went premium on everything from our choice of toxin and dermal filler [Juvederm] to our choice of skincare. We will be stocking Neostrata and Obagi which I chose because of the science and reputation behind the brands.”
The clinic will also offer Genuine Dermaroller treatments and the 3D-Lipomed, which is initially being launched exclusively with the Dr Leah Clinics. “We are the only UK clinic to offer this new medical version of 3D-Lipo,” Totton explains. “It is a fantastic device and I think we are going to get some really dramatic results with it.”
Dr Leah will be charging between £180 and £450 for the fat reduction treatments with the one-off cryolipolysis fat freezing procedures at the top end. Getting the clinic up and running has been a lot more arduous than Totton anticipated and she has now decided to focus on establishing the flagship clinic in the City before she thinks about expanding and launching a chain. She says, “The amount of work involved in getting this clinic off the ground has been astronomical. I probably didn’t realise when I won the show just how much work it was going to be.
There have been a lot of sleepless nights and there have been mountains to climb but we have got there. I am a complete perfectionist so this clinic has to be perfect before we even think about expansion.” PB