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Fredric S. Brandt, M.D., one of cosmetic dermatology’s most celebrated, accomplished and recognized physicians, died April 5, 2015. His colleagues, still reeling from the loss, remember the legacy and brilliance of the man who came to be known as “The Baron of Botox.”
Fredric S. Brandt, M.D., one of cosmetic dermatology’s most celebrated, accomplished and recognized physicians, died April 5, 2015.
His colleagues, still reeling from the loss, remember the legacy and brilliance of the man who came to be known as “The Baron of Botox.”
Dr. Brandt was 65. He had successful practices in Coral Gables, Fla. and New York City. He branded a lucrative skincare line and cared for an A-list clientele.
He also suffered from what friends say was a long battle with depression. But only those close to the dermatologist knew the depths of his despair. Patients and colleagues remember him for his love of people, cosmetic dermatology, art, culture and song. They also remember him as always striving to be at the cutting edge of his field.
Roy Geronemus, M.D., a member of the Dermatology Times Editorial Advisory Board, worked with Dr. Brandt at their New York City practice for two decades and knew him since 1978, when Dr. Brandt was a dermatology resident at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Fla.
Dr. Geronemus, who gave a eulogy in honor of Dr. Brandt in New York, says the two were as different as two people can be, but they had a mutual respect and strong friendship. He said that his colleague was a creative genius in addressing the aging face and was distinguished as the world’s biggest user of Botox and fillers.
“He made cosmetic dermatology more scientific,” Dr. Geronemus says. “He put a lot of thought and creativity into applying the science of cosmetic dermatology to the actual implementation. So, he understood what he was using. He understood anatomy. He understood how the injectables would work, appropriately, in such a way that provided a different way of looking at things. Other dermatologists wanted to know his secrets and he freely shared them--he published widely and lectured all over the world. But very few, if any, had Fred's artistic eye.”
Dr. Brandt’s partner in practice in Coral Gables and former mentee, dermatologist Jeremy B. Green, M.D., said Dr. Brandt would host journal clubs for their group, including his other partner Joely Kaufman, M.D.
“Here’s somebody who is 65 years old and arguably one of the top dermatologists for what he did on the planet, striving to learn more, to get better,” says Dr. Green. “He was a master, who acted like he was an apprentice.”
Despite his celebrity, following and reputation, Dr. Brandt was a man of great humility, according to Dr. Green.
“When I first started working with him, he’d introduce me as his colleague--his partner. He treated me as an equal,” says Dr. Green, noting that “he was always in the company of famous dermatologists, plastic surgeons and heads of industry. He’d introduce me to all these top people. And that was so amazing. I didn’t think I deserved that. That’s the person he was.”
Patients loved him and that love was mutual, according to his colleagues.
Vanity Fair covered the service1 at the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, where the stage was adorned with 3,000 orchids. (There was a second funeral for Dr. Brandt in Miami.) Among the celebrities giving eulogies were television personalities Joy Behar and Kelly Ripa, who recalled the time Dr. Brandt rapped, “Oh, Juvéderm, girl, you’re so firm!"
Bursting into song was something Dr. Brandt did often. He’d sing to patients and, sometimes, they’d sing along. He loved Sinatra and the songs from Carousel. One of his favorites to serenade to patients, a take-off on Duke Ellington’s doo-wop classic “It won’t mean a thing if you don’t get a lift,” according to Dr. Geronemus.
A fun and caring man, Dr. Brandt could remember minute details about each of his patients’ lives.
“People would wait for hours to see him,” Dr. Green says. “Even though this was not ideal to some in the waiting room, once they left, they were beaming. Ironically enough--for how everything turned out-Dr. Brandt was a counselor. He was so much more than a doctor to [his patients]. He enjoyed the limelight but, ultimately, what he cared about were the patients and making sure we did everything safely. Everything had to be on the cutting edge.”
The man; the friend
Dr. Geronemus says his partner was really out there. “He would not wear lab coats to the office. He would wear designer clothes. About a month ago, we were leaving the office together. I was wearing a Zegna suit, carrying an old fashioned Wall Street briefcase. Fred was wearing his typical doctor's garb----a designer outfit with a Givenchy bag draped over his shoulder. We looked at each other and laughed,” Dr. Geronemus says.
His antics often drew laughs, even in more serious and professional situations. “We were in Sweden together helping to launch the filler Restylane, and he broke into a rap song about me that he concocted on the spot. It was creative and hysterical. I wish I had saved the lyrics,” Dr. Geronemus says. “He even got me into the act on occasion including one holiday party, where we dressed up as Sonny and Cher--wigs and all. I was Sonny; he was Cher. We sang ‘I Got You Babe.’”
Inside, he was the kind of man one wouldn’t expect, given the façade. The friendships Dr. Brandt made in and out of dermatology weren’t about the celebrity, according to Dr. Green.
“It was about him being a human being. The clothes he wore and his appearance--that façade would melt away as soon as you met him. He was the most gentle, sweet, loving guy,” Dr. Green says.
A month before Dr. Brandt’s death, Dr. Green had a bad case of the stomach flu. It was the first time, Dr. Green says, that he cancelled a clinic in four years. Dr. Green didn’t share his illness with his partner, but as soon as Dr. Brandt found out, he called and texted several times, asking if there was something he could do to help.
“Here’s a guy who probably is in a consuming depression, yet, he cared so much about me,” says Dr. Green.
As jovial, prominent and successful as he was, Dr. Brandt suffered from a darkness those who were close to him could feel but not fix.
Going forward hasn’t been easy, says Dr. Geronemus. “We have a lot of very distraught patients. We have people calling the office in tears. Patients coming in in tears. “He had a very high level of clientele and people who weren’t high level. He treated them all well. And they were truly his friends. The staff were very close to him.”
Dr. Geronemus says Dr. Brandt seemed bothered by a few things in the weeks before his death, but Dr. Geronemus didn’t sense the seriousness of his business partner’s depression.
“We would talk more about issues with the practice and patients. But we would always do that. He was just more concerned than usual,” Dr. Geronemus said. “If I put pieces together from different things and different people, it becomes a more complete story. But I don’t think it was clear to anyone what depression was doing to him.”
Dr. Green says that Dr. Brandt’s patients, friends and colleagues can’t act as if his apparent suicide, which made worldwide headlines, didn’t happen.
“All of us who were close to him have wondered what we could have done differently to protect him, to help him, to make him feel better. But ultimately it happened,” Dr. Green says. “It’s a hard thing for everybody to come to grips with: the beautiful, sweet person he was; then, for it to end like that. I wish he knew how much he was loved. Joely and I have gotten emails and calls from all over the world, from people wanting to know why, and to express their feelings for Fred.”
Memorial funds in Dr. Brandt’s honor
In tribute to Dr. Brandt, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) has set up two memorial funds.
The Allergan Foundation has committed $300,000 for the ASDS to administer The Fredric S. Brandt, M.D., Innovations in Aesthetics Fellowship Fund in collaboration with the Society’s accredited cosmetic dermatologic surgery fellowship training programs. The fund supports the career development of junior dermatologic surgeon-scientists focused on cosmetic treatments and patient care.
ASDS also has established the Fredric S. Brandt, MD, Memorial Research Fund to support well-conceived clinical research projects in cosmetic dermatologic surgery or board-directed research relating to the safety of cosmetic procedures, according to an ASDS press release.
“This Memorial Research Fund gives Dr. Brandt’s friends, colleagues and industry partners a mechanism to honor his memory in a way that is consistent with who he was as a person and physician – innovative, giving and collaborative – for the benefit of the entire specialty,” said ASDS President George J. Hruza, M.D., M.B.A.
For information on donating to either fund, contact Tara Azzano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-956-9128.