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The Baron of Botox Is Gone, But His Face Lives On

Dr. Fredric Brandt redefined cosmetic dermatology forever by bringing a smooth, plump, and ageless face to the masses

Justine Harman
GEN
Published in
17 min readJan 14, 2020

This feature is part of the new podcast “The Baron of Botox,” available now on Apple, Spotify, and anywhere you subscribe to podcasts. Listen to the first episode here.

WWhen socialite and former model Aviva Drescher learned in the fall of 2011 that she had been cast on season five of The Real Housewives of New York City, she was eager to put her best face forward. “I knew I was going to be on a reality television show, and I had just heard about the fantastic and extraordinary Fred Brandt. If I was going to be on TV, I really had to go to the best of the best,” she said. Like anyone who sought an appointment with the dermatologist known as the “Baron of Botox,” Drescher called in a favor. When she arrived at Dr. Brandt’s pristine offices on the far side of East 34th Street, an intentionally unchic part of Manhattan where patients were less likely to run into acquaintances, she did what everyone who went to see Dr. Brandt did: She waited, sometimes for hours.

An appointment with the man who had personally perfected the faces of celebrities like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kelly Ripa was well worth it — as was the cost, which could easily exceed $7,000 in a single visit. Drescher soon became a devotee, regularly allowing Brandt to determine where, and how, her face could benefit from a vial of Botox — or, as the doctor lovingly called it, “a bissel of Bo.”

Americans spent more than $16.5 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2018, but when Fredric Brandt first opened up shop in the early 1980s, there were few alternatives to going under the knife. Botox, a nerve-freezing substance originally used to alleviate twitchy eyelids, became Brandt’s paintbrush, a way to gently redesign a face by manipulating the muscles under the skin. What he was able to achieve over the course of his 35-year career wasn’t just a new way to use Botox and fillers—it was a new way to talk to women about what they saw when they looked in the mirror. Fred Brandt took the once-dirty desire to look beautiful and rebranded it as an appropriate and acceptable form of self-care.

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Justine Harman
GEN
Writer for

Justine Harman is a writer, podcaster, and (somewhat) reformed magazine junkie who was most recently the features director at Glamour.