Cosmetic surgery: the celebrities’ go-to woman
When celebrities and the super-rich want an undercover nose job or a facelift, Shannon Leeman organises it for them.
My phone rings at 2am. An A-list actor in LA wants to talk. He is anxious – his jawline is looking slack and he’s getting a double chin. What can he do to fix it? We discuss a subtle neck lift and some mini liposuction. He wants the best. Will I set it up – under a false name, of course? (We call it a double file.)
A leading actress Skypes me from the set of her latest film. She has seen herself close-up in the director’s raw footage and is panicking about the lines around her eyes. I suggest some fast laser treatment and arrange for my favourite aesthetician to meet her in her trailer.
I have a consultation with a singer. Her stylist has picked a strapless Versace gown for her to wear at the Grammys, but it is not fitting well. What can she do? I tell her about the Kybella injection that melts away fat around the armpits. The treatment takes eight to 12 weeks to work, so she has time.
She is also considering a fat transfer from her waist to her butt to amp up her curves. Will she have time to recover from that procedure, too? Her agent will send me her tour schedule.
I am flown to Saint-Tropez to meet a chief executive on his super-yacht. His wife is unhappy with her breasts. She has lost her confidence wearing a bikini. I suggest she meet Louis Benelli, a surgeon in Paris famous for the shape of his pert, neat lifts known as the coupe de champagne.
While I’m there, the chief executive asks me to book him into a clinic to address his thinning hair and whispers to me, who is the best guy to take care of his “moobs”?
Under the radar
If asked my profession, I call myself an anti-ageing adviser. What I really am is the best-kept secret of the rich and famous. At a time when there have never been so many anti-ageing procedures, people hire me to tell them where to get the best and to hold their hand through it.
And secret I am. Often, I’ll walk into a restaurant or private members’ club in London,
Los Angeles or New York and bump into a client who will pretend they don’t know me.
Recently, I spent months preparing a big Hollywood agent to look his best at his 50th birthday party, but he didn’t invite me. My clients send me fabulous thank-you presents – theatre tickets, designer handbags, flowers, chocolates – but it is their personal assistants who sign the cards.
Among friends, however, I am a popular lunch date. I’ve done many an on-the-spot consultation in the loos in Annabel’s, Morton’s and Claridge’s in London. One was while beating on a pheasant shoot. Yet usually the way I work is this. First, I’ll get a call from a PA who says, “My client would like a meeting.” This is either at my London home, or their home, or via Skype. Sometimes I won’t know who requires my services until they arrive. When they walk in, I try not to do a double-take if they’re very famous. Then I like to guess their issue before we begin. Often I’m wrong, which has taught me not to make suggestions.
If someone asks me what, on their face or body, I think they should fix, I tell them that is for them to decide. My job is to make sure they get the
best results and they are safe.
Often my consultations are like therapy sessions. We look in the mirror, do a lot of talking. Clothes come off. Then I present the options. If a client wants to go under the radar, I set up after-hours appointments in my name or arrange for a surgeon to come to their home.
I am not cheap. An hour’s personal consultation costs $700. If you have me on a retainer, we are talking thousands a month. Yet for many of my clients, their appearance is their most valuable asset. If they mess that up, everyone will be talking about it.
My clients want to be on “bestdressed” lists. They don’t want to be the poster child for plastic surgery.
Not all my clients are in Hollywood. I see people from Europe and the Middle East – heads of industry and their wives, girlfriends, mothers and daughters – but also people who have saved for years. Requests include everything from Botox, fillers and laser work to nose jobs, breast lifts, fat reduction and gynoplasty.
At the moment it is all about the cheekbones – everyone is using fillers to re-create that roundness of youth. Lips are big, too. You can accentuate the borders and get that little bit at the front plumped up to give you a pout.
Many women ask me how they can get rid of the creases on their upper lip – I call them “barcodes”. I usually suggest a combination of treatments, including dermabrasion, lasers, fillers and freezers.
Try before you buy
In the US, the non-surgical nose job is the new trend. Dermal fillers are used to straighten areas or correct a hooked profile or tip projection. In 10 minutes, you can have a new nose. It’s a good way of trying one – it lasts only a year – before a permanent surgical solution.
At least a quarter of my clients are men. They come about their hair, jawline and waistline. Since the recession, I have seen a lot of men afraid of losing their edge at work. They sense younger men biting at their heels and they want sharp jawlines and a full head of hair to look young and vital again.
Then there are the brides-to-be who want a confidence boost before their big day. We say, right, we’ve got six months until your wedding, this is what you want to do, and we’ll make a schedule. I call this my “pre-nup and tuck” service.
For some, being given the options is enough. Others want handholding through the process. I go with them to their first appointment to make sure they’re not being pushed into anything.
Top cosmetic doctors are running multimillion-dollar businesses, so they may not be what I would consider impartial. It’s not uncommon to go in for Botox and find yourself facing a laser machine. I never take commissions from clinics or doctors. My clients have to trust me 100 per cent.
If they are having surgery, I sit in on the operation. I am there when they wake up and I take them home. I arrange bodyguards, chauffeurs, a 24-hour nurse, a chef.
I call in therapists to do lymphatic
Cosmetic surgery is a gory, rough business.
Shannon Leeman’s consultations are often like therapy.
GWYNETH PALTROW revealed, “I would do it again, it took five years off my face”, after undergoing a laser treatment.