Dr. Arnold Klein sets the record straight on the dangers of common anti-aging treatments, the truth about the life and death of his close friend superstar Michael Jackson and his love and respect for who he considers the greatest beauty and last star in Hollywood—Elizabeth Taylor.
By Suzanne Takowsky
As the saying goes…What becomes a legend most?
Well, after speaking with renowned Beverly Hills Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein, I would have to say that an honest, trustworthy and well-intentioned best friend should top the list. That’s probably why Klein remained best friends for three decades with the biggest superstars of all time Michael Jackson, and Elizabeth Taylor and the growing list of A-listers who call him “friend” is staggering. During our interview the phone didn’t stop, ringing—and I mean didn’t stop. He took calls from some of the biggest names in Hollywood, and the tone of the conversations were the same; chummy and fun. It’s obvious these people are close to his heart and he to theirs. Maybe they are his patients, but more important they are his close friends …“his family” as he says. They are people he trusts and adores and—they trust and adore him. My interview with Klein was everything I’d hoped, and more. We met at his gorgeous hilltop mansion overlooking the best Beverly Hills has to offer. The sun-filled day could not have been more perfect for a relaxed, sit down conversation for two. Certainly, I was expecting him to be brilliant after all Klein is considered the premier skin care/ anti-aging guru/most cutting-edge dermatologist and minimally invasive cosmetic expert in the world. What I didn’t expect was a man with an amazing sense of humor who doesn’t hide behind smoke and mirrors when discussing his life. He is kind, loyal when he speaks about his friends, straightforward and placed no limits on the topics we discussed.
Friends In High Places
Although he wouldn’t name names, it’s no secret Klein’s patient roster reads like an international directory of the famous. Dubbed Dermatologist to the Stars is only half of it; Presidents, (of course presidents wives), Kings, Queens, business moguls, distinguished designers, politicians, bestselling authors, headliners, legends, international speakers —doctors, even plastic surgeons trust their faces and skin to Klein. And he doesn’t let them down. He is the man the most beautiful women in the world depend on to look natural, and more to the point…unsurgeried. Whether outing his name in the press or seen coming out of his office, the list of famous women who attribute their beauty to Klein form an enviable line. Klein is acknowledged worldwide as the “Guy To Go To For Botox” and for one reason: his patients do not look frozen—they just look spectacular at any age. Klein’s claim to anti-aging fame is that for more than 30 years he gives patients a youthful look. “Going under the knife” he says is about the worst thing a person can do. Not because he is against minimally invasive cosmetic surgery, but he is horrified by all the “bad surgery” he not only sees, but has to correct. People look bad because as Klein points out…doctors with the scalpel in their hands don’t know what they are doing and he says they rely on cookie cutter procedures that worsen not achieve a refined look. Unqualified doctors who don’t know how to give dermal injections are what he says creating unnatural, almost monstrous looks we see. Tight, puffy faces, over-injected cheeks and huge tube-like lips; the worst is the fillers being used are unhealthy, toxic and causing a leg-long list of dangerous health risks.
ST: Best friend to the most beautiful woman created, it’s easy to hold Elizabeth Taylor as the standard of true beauty. But what we see today—distortion, unnatural looks; isn’t this is a step back for the beauty industry?
AK: The biggest problem is most plastic and cosmetic doctors don’t know what a ‘mouth’ is supposed to look like. They think filling the face and lips with fat is all it takes. What happens—patients end up with a fat face and fat lips. After much research, I found the cause of lower facial fat loss comes from lack of lower jaw dental support. My goal is to keep evolving in every way…keep finding way to improve the face without the need for invasive surgery. Today’s doctors just don’t understand the architecture of the face.”
Dangerous Fillers That Do Not Work
Reinventing the way Botox is injected along with other Hydronic acid fillers and his invention of restoring the lower face with filler to achieve fullness without surgery has made Klein the most noted facial cosmetic dermatologist on earth. His results to bring fullness into the lower face are nothing short of miraculous. I must admit more than once I thought of going to Klein myself, but because of his celebrity clients, I felt his prices would be sky high. Not so he says, acting shocked at my revelation. Klein maintains his fees are comparable to other dermatologists in Los Angeles, and in his office one doesn’t have to be a celebrity to be treated like one. Every person who walks through his door deserves, and receives the best he, and his highly-trained staff have to offer.
His Specialized Staff
Klein’s medical staff are some of the most specialized physicians/skin/beauty experts in the field and include Dr. Paul J. McAndrews, a Board Certified Dermatologist and global leader in advanced techniques for hair transplants. McAndrews pioneered the use of the stereoscopic microscope to revolutionize the hair transplant process, creating results many find indistinguishable from nature. As one of only three doctors in the world who uses hypothermosol to preserve follicular grafts for maximizing survival, McAndrews was ranked the best doctor in his specialty in the U.S., he lectures to physicians throughout the country and is frequently interviewed by the media. McAndrews serves as a Clinical Professor at the USC School of Medicine. Another of Klein’s experts is Valerie Luethge Stern, PAC, MPAS, a board-certified physician assistant specializing in dermatology, dermatological surgery and laser since 1998. With advanced training and certifications in Botox injections, Restylane, Juvéderm, contouring of the cheeks, nasal bridges, and lips to name a few, Stern’s chemical peeling techniques include improvement for melasma, acne, scar formation, sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles. She also performs general, cosmetic, and laser skin care on patients of all ethnicites, ages and skin types, improving and rejuvenating, while enhancing each and everyone’s natural beauty. Other treatments she performs include Er:Yag resurfacing, IPL, infrared skin tightening, Nd:Yag, CO2 pixelated resurfacing, diode laser treatments for hair removal and rejuvenation, as well as tattoo removal, cellulite treatments, wrinkle and reductions with state-ofthe- art radio frequency systems.
Up Against The FDA
Klein’s dedication to his practice is his priority. It’s easy to see why patients turn into friends who simply adore him. I already adore him, and I just met him! I like his style. I like his concern for safe treatment, and I like the way he doesn’t let ceremony stand in the way of good medicine. A terrific example is his dedication to the health of people. Although he uses Botox and Restylane for minimally invasive injection treatments, he refuses to use other fillers that although are popular cause severe allergic reactions and long-term health problems, namely ArteFill. In 2010, Klein was named a consultant to the FDA, a title he didn’t take lightly when he went public with his alarming concern over the use of synthetic dermal fillers he knew caused problems for people injected with them. The effect of his public outcry forced the FDA to include on Allergan’s Botox a black box warning— something he considers one of his great achievements. But still he feels his job is not finished and continues to lobby against the use of Artefill, Sculptra and Radiesse saying that keeping wrinkles at bay should not put a patient’s health at risk. According to Klein it’s all about making money for the drug companies and the doctors who get paid to use products known to permanently scar and disfigure people. Hundreds of patients negatively affected seek his help to correct the devastating effects they have caused and receives around 1,000 emails a day from disgruntled people.
ST: If the FDA and doctors know these products are not safe why do they continue using them?
AK: The FDA, doctors and even patients want to ignore the warnings and bad reactions caused by these plexiglas fillers. And as for silicone, we know what over time the bad effects are, and believe it or not silicone is back on the market. Most countries have pulled these products, but the United States continues to allow them. Most doctors don’t credentials needed to understand products they use, others use celebrities to endorse products that are garbage, and sadly the FDA is not policing these fillers as they should. What is running the system is pure greed.”
Over the past couple of years Klein has gotten his share of bad press most brought on by publicity seekers who use his name to get into the press, and as patients told me are jealous over the success he has achieved and continues to demand Nevertheless, Hollywood and his patients stand by him. His practice is busier than ever. Klein’s reputation for delivering the best non-invasive treatment remains untouched, and as Professor of Medicine and Dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and emeritus attending physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his innovative treatments bring perfection to his specialty. He has received the highest honors granted to any dermatologist. UCLA Division of Dermatology named an endowed chair to honor Klein, and as distinguished head of The Arnold Klein, MDChair in Dermatology. Years of training, reinvention and research bring notoriety to his practice and his techniques are used by dermatologists and plastic surgeons around the world; named in Who’s Who in the World, Best Doctors in America and, Men of Achievement. In our interview I had the chance to weasel in onphone conversations he hadwith actress /activist Kelly LeBrock and also author/actress/ film writer Carrie Fisher. Explaining to them he was in an interview, both spoke to me about him as their doctor, and friend. LeBrock was in Canada participating in a seminar to find a cure for children with Autism and said, “Dr. Klein has a divine way with a needle. I thank him for making me look gorgeous—not strange. He’s an incredible, giving man and not just as a doctor; the charity work he does is extraordinary.” When Klein spoke with Carrie Fisher I asked for a few words and keeping with her quick pro humor, she asked himto step out of the room while we spoke so she could say her peace without him listening —too adorable! Fisher is spokesperson for Jenny Craig and looks amazing. I had to tell her the work she has put into losing weight has made her look younger than ever. “I looked like a 54 year old matron,” (I begged to differ), but Fisher continued. “I got better, and look good in a large part due to Dr. Klein who takes care of my face; when you lose weight it shows on your face and neck. I haven’t had a facelift, but as we age we need help; he helps without surgery. He is the innovator of many wonderful treatments. I thank him for making me look good now that I’ve lost weight. So many women look ‘frozen’ without any facial expression, and I would look strange without facial expression. Sooner or laterwe have to accept our age; that doesn’t mean we have to look our age; it means we want to look good for our age. That’s the key; not trying to look 20 again because that won’t happen, it’s unrealistic. Women just end up not looking good for any age. We shouldn’t have to go to such extremes that make us look unnatural.” Speaking of a woman who doesn’t mince words, gorgeous Janice Dickenson said, “Dr Arnie where have you been all my life. Not only are you painless you made me look fresh and fabulous. The mirror and everyone around me say I look incredible. All I can say is Arnie you nailed it.” A prolific writer, Dr. Klein has published more than 150 scientific papers and written four medical textbooks, while serving on the editorial board and as an expert reviewer of numerous national and international medical publications. Klein serves as a trustee to various boards of directors, including the Jennifer Jones-Simon Foundation and The Hereditary Disease Foundation. The HDF discovered the first gene for Huntington’s chorea. Dr. Klein, along with his longtime friend, renowned architect Frank Gehry, works with the foundation to raise funds and awareness for inherited diseases. As an adviser, consultant, and/or principal investigator, Klein has worked with Allergan, Anika, Ethicon, Elan Pharmaceuticals, Genzyme, Johnson & Johnson, Medicis Aesthetics, Ortho-Neutrogena, Skin-Medica and Q-Med. In February 2006, Klein received the Allergan Award for Pioneering Work in Soft Tissue Augmentation and he cofounded the Rose Tarlow-Arnold W. Klein Breast Cancer Foundation at UCLA to provide breast cancer treatment for individuals without money to afford it.
The Beginning Of amfAR & AIDS Awareness
As founding international Chairman for amfAR, Elizabeth Taylor became one of the first outspoken celebrities in the fight against AIDS. Few know, however, that in 1985, in the living room of Klein’s Los Angeles home, along with David Geffen, Dr. Mathilde Krim, and others, he founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Klein was the first physician to diagnose a case of Kaposi’s sarcoma in Southern California, and accompanied Taylor to Washington to testify on Capitol Hill about AIDS. The two raised millions of dollars for amfAR by bringing big names in entertanment to support their cause. In 2007, in honor of his best friend Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Klein helped establish the Elizabeth Taylor Endowment for the UCLA CARE Center, a renowned facility for HIV/AIDS research and treatment. By November 2008, an article in L’Uomo Vogue stated Klein and the organizations he founded raised more than $274 million for HIV research and care. Taylor’s fight against the spread of AIDS continued until her recent death.
ST: Lets talk about you and Elizabeth Taylor.
AK: She was loving, extravagant, and beautiful. Her violet eyes drilled holes in your brain and she was voted the best lips in the land. In her bedroom everywhere you looked there were pictures of her and her men. Not just Richard and Mike, but James, Rock, Montgomery and others. She lived simply for a person of her stature, but amethyst crystals were everywhere. She loved to lie in bed with that huge TV and current dog Sugar or, Sally or whoever at her side. She was generous and had the last bit of glamour left in Hollywood. She was the most humorous motivated, intelligent survivor of the movie machine I had ever met. Up to now I have raised $320 million for HIV; in April I will pledge 10% of my income to the clinic I established at UCLA in her name. Where is she now —up in heaven resting on a bed of diamonds encased in the throne where Cleopatra once sat. Cleopatra herself has made way for the greatest royal of them all…Dame Elizabeth.
ST: Negative things have been said about Michael Jackson. Knowing him as you did what would you like people to know?
AK: Michael was a generous human being who cared about others. He was a loving father and loyal friend. When asked by Larry King if Michael wanted to be white, I said no. I diagnosed Michael with Lupus years ago; Vitiligo is a side effect of Lupus, caused by the immune system attacking one’s pigment cells. It’s more pronounced in black people. Michael’s whole body began to speckle, specifically his face and hands which is difficult to treat. Michael was black. He was proud of his black heritage, and he changed the world for black people. Klein wrote this poem for Michael.
Michael jackson was not ahead of his time, he made the time… He did not walk he danced; he did not talk he sang; his language was movements and melodies the world had never seen before, and never will again. He became the rhythm, the lyrics, and the song; He was a true performance artist of our lifetime… Through his own personal pain blossomed this most incredible instrument…but like a wondrous inspirational sunset…with a blink of eye he is gone. —Arnie