Nadine Baggott investigates the world of Dr Simon Ourian – the cosmetic surgeon beloved by the A-list
If you don’t mind the sight of needles or fleshburning lasers, then look no further than the Instagram feed of Dr Simon Ourian. The Argentinian-born Beverly Hills-based cosmetic doctor now infamous for shaping lips that sell a million lip glosses (Kylie Jenner’s) has a reputation spread globally via the mediums of reality TV and social media.
With over 2 million followers hanging on his every injection, Dr Ourian is not shy of displaying his talents via splitscreen before and afters, mini videos showing filler being injected into noses, lips, jawline, cheekbones and even bottoms to create that now infamous Kardashian Kurve, as well as lasers to treat scars and stretch marks. Visit his clinic’s website and the opening page features him on Good Day LA and Keeping Up With The Kardashians (Kim calls him ‘my favourite person’). Meanwhile, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, as well as every Kardashian minus Kendall, have all been seen and filmed at the clinic.
Rewind 10 years to when Keeping Up With The Kardashians first aired and not only are the familiar faces very different to how they look now; you will also start to see a shy, dark-haired doctor leading Kris through VelaShape and Coolsculpting for her cellulite and love handles. Next thing you know, Kim’s Instagramming getting her stretch marks seen to, and suddenly Dr O is the name on everyone’s lips – and bottoms and cheeks and chins…
Speaking about Kylie Jenner’s effect on people becoming more transparent and honest about having cosmetic surgery, Dr Ourian recently told WWD, ‘What was once a taboo subject has now become a bragging right. People want to brag about having their lips done. My social media patients put up a selfie with me so that they can say they came to our office.’
There is no doubting that this man has a great eye and describes himself as a cosmetic dermatologist by vocation and sculptor by avocation. ‘My sculpting and cosmetic work are very similar. It is likea Pointillist painting, where many small changes converge into an integrated whole,’ he says on his website. His non-surgical nose jobs, using a hyaluronic acid filler to temporarily reshape crooked and humped noses, are very impressive – and at £3,000, cost a third of a surgical procedure. To watch him reshape a jawline and cheekbones with multiple microinjections of the same filler is mesmerising (I defy you to stop watching without seeing the before and after). But see enough procedures and you realise that Dr Ourian has a very particular view of beauty and it seems that everyone who visits him starts to look a little more like Kim with every injection. Certainly, her younger sister Kylie, according to pictures on Instagram, resembles Kim more and more with every passing day, as does their hairstylist Jen Atkin, and Mary Phillips – the family make-up artist.
Situated on North Camden Drive, in the heart of Beverly Hills, Dr Ourian’s Epione clinic is unimposing from the outside, but inside it has more in common with a five-star hotel than a medical facility. His army of salespeople are there to assess you for procedures and to ‘soft sell’ you what the clinic has on offer. It’s only by paying and booking that you get to see Ourian himself. He is the only cosmetic doctor on site, but can refer patients to a roster of cosmetic surgeons who can do more radial surgery, such as full circumferential body lift, breast enlargement, tummy tuck and facelift.
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As the boundaries between cosmetic aesthetics and plastic surgery become increasingly blurred, it’s worth remembering that Dr Ourian is not a board-certified plastic surgeon, he is a GP who has been trained to do procedures such as filler, Botox and laser. There isn’t any regulation for his chosen moniker of Cosmetic Dermatologist in the US, just as there isn’t in the UK. He makes millions a year from his clinic where, more often than not, you will not see the doctor himself but his army of nurse practitioners. And now he is offering Brazilian butt lifts and breast augmentation (using your own fat and long-lasting fillers) which, while done under local anaesthetic, straddle that fine line between nominally invasive procedure and surgery. He is fully within his rights to do this in the US because liposuction under local anaesthetic can be carried out by a doctor who is not trained to be a surgeon.
Dig a little deeper and you discover that in 2009 he was placed under supervision for five years after he admitted repeated negligence and keeping inadequate patient records. But that hasn’t stopped the cult of Dr O growing because he has been single-handedly responsible for the transformations of Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner from pretty women into globally revered beauty icons. It’s the lasering of the hairline, that slimming and straightening of the nose, the firming of the jawline and cheeks, and plumping of the lips that turns a pretty face into an Instagram face that beguiles millions of followers. So much so that demand for cosmetic procedures in the under-25 age group has exploded, not for anti-ageing but to reshape, remodel and re-contour faces to look just like Kim and Kylie.
Trawl through Epione’s treatment offerings and you will find Botox, fillers and laser work, radio frequency, ultrasound and cryolipolysis… in other words, nothing that you won’t find on any UK city-based aesthetic clinic menu and all absolutely legal for Dr Ourian to perform. And to watch this happening on muted timelapse video on Instagram somehow sanitises what is in reality an often painful and invasive process.
But try telling that to the millions of Millennials who follow Kim and Kylie – and who want whatever they are having and damn the consequences and cost. As long as any Kardashian is seen as the epitome of beauty, then the doctor who sculpts their faces and bodies will be the most in-demand doctor on the planet.