Dr Fredric Brandt, who has died aged 65, was a cosmetic surgeon to the stars, dubbed the "Baron of Botox" and the "King of Collagen". Over the past three decades he helped celebrities including Madonna, Stephanie Seymour and Jane Holzer to maintain their youthful appearances. "If I have nice skin, I owe a lot to him," Madonna once said of Brandt and his treatments.
He saw his mission as being "to keep people working and feeling vital and good about themselves" – and described his threefold method as being to "...approach each face with a visual perception, an artistic perception and a medical perception."
Rather than the scalpel of the earlier generations of plastic surgeons, Brandt's preferred tool was the syringe, used to inject Botox and collagen fillers to smooth the faces of his subjects. "A lot of women are fearful of plastic surgery," he said, "because they're afraid once they do it there's no going back..." Justifying the cosmetic procedures he carried out, he said "A lot of people say, 'I really don't care about my age: I feel good, I don't feel old, I don't feel angry, why should I look that way?'"
Brandt was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1949 to Irving and Esther Brandt, the owners of a sweet shop. As a child, he loved science. "I remember taking things apart as a kid, radios and other things," he recalled. "I was always questioning everything to see how it worked." His father died of diabetes when Brandt was just 15 and his mother followed seven years later.
He graduated from Rutgers University, New Jersey, in 1971 and continued his studies at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, where he specialised in dermatology. He went into private practice in Miami, Florida in 1982 and founded the Brandt Dermatology Research Institute, later opening a further clinic in New York.
Botox (botulinum toxin) is a potent neurotoxic poison produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It has a paralysing effect on human muscle, causing the overlying skin to become smooth and unwrinkled. Brandt was among the first in the US to use Botox as a cosmetic treatment, having petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during clinical trials, leading up to its approval in 2002.
Brandt was an avid user of his own therapies and would often try out new products and procedures on himself. "I've been kind of a pioneer in pushing the limits to see how things work and what the look would be," he said in an interview last year. "Would I change anything I've done? I might not have used as much Botox, because you don't want to look quite as frozen." He was a keen advocate of a recently introduced technique called Y Lift, which involves the injection of fluid in the area below the cheekbones, creating the illusion of a taut face.
His typical 10-hour working day at the clinics began at 6.30am with yoga, then entailed seeing 30 patients, for treatments which involved injections of collagen as a filler to provide more volume, together with Botox and Restylane, to remove the appearance of lines. The resulting look was termed the "New New Face".
He had hosted a radio programme, Ask Dr. Brandt, and was the author of two books, Age-less: The Definitive Guide to Botox, Collagen, Lasers, Peels, and Other Solutions for Flawless Skin (2002), written with Patricia Reynos, and 10 Minutes/10 Years: Your Definitive Guide to a Beautiful and Youthful Appearance (2007).
Away from the world of perfect faces, Brandt was a renowned collector of modern art, with a collection including works by Damien Hirst, Gilbert & George and Richard Prince. "My first purchases were lithographs, because that's all I could afford at the time," he recalled in an interview for Elle in 2013. "Now I have about 300 works of art. I hate to feel like I'm neglecting anyone." The comparison with his professional practice was apparent, he suggested. "It all has to do with being very visual, and having an eye for detail and form. It's not just about making sure that something is done correctly and scientifically; it's about understanding how it's going to look."
He had been the inspiration for the character Dr Grant (pronounced with a slurred voice as "Dr Franff"), a cosmetic surgeon played by Martin Short, in the new comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. There is certainly an uncanny likeness between Brandt and the fictional doctor. "The show definitely deeply hurt him, he was being made fun of because of the way he looks. It is mean, and it was bullying," commented his publicist, Jacquie Tractenberg.
Brandt had been undergoing treatment for depression. He was found dead by his friend, John Hupert, hanging in the garage of his home in the Coconut Grove suburb of Miami, Florida.
"In all ways, Dr. Brandt was a tremendous presence in the beauty industry," said Tractenberg, "a man who was incomparably skilled as a doctor, but equally caring and generous as a human being. He loved singing show tunes and creating raps while he worked, keeping his patients happy and laughing while they were being injected with needles. It was impossible to walk out of his office without a smile on your face, feeling rejuvenated inside and out."
Dr Fredric Brandt, dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon: born Newark, New Jersey 26 June 1949; died Miami, Florida 5 April 2015.Reuse content