What do Kim Kardashian-West, Kylie Jenner, Lady Gaga, Salma Hayek, Victoria’s Secret models and Brad Pitt all have in common? Well, they all get their beauty procedures done by none other than Dr Simon Ourian. A sculptor by vocation, the Beverly-Hills based dermatologist is almost as famous as his fiercely loyal celebrity clients. With over 3.5 million followers on Instagram, he is the most followed cosmetic doctor on social media and is sought out by patients throughout the US and the world. From his Epione Beverly Hills clinic, Dr Ourian has been shaping the world of cosmetic surgery for over two decades through his pioneering procedures, products and philosophy regarding beauty. Despite his hectic schedule and long waiting list that includes the who's who of the world, Dr Ourian kindly made the time for this special interview.
Q. What was your inspiration to get into this career and how would you describe your overall philosophy on beauty and cosmetic surgery?
My background was in art, aesthetics, and sculpting, so I had a very keen appreciation for beauty before I got into this field. Over the years I have fine-tuned my skills resting on my background and foundation of human anatomy, classic science, and art of beauty. Beauty is universal and the universal language of beauty is something I love and appreciate.
Q. You have become the biggest cosmetic dermatologist on Instagram. To what do you attribute your success?
I have been doing this for a long time and I love what I do. I think if you absolutely love what you do it comes through and everyone can see that. All my life I have been living and breathing about beauty. I started this when there were not too many doctors doing this in the world and I stayed true to my beliefs of enhancing the beauty of every woman in my chair and I want to make sure they are happier when they leave my office than when they arrived. I have been lucky that a lot of my clients are very well-known celebrities throughout the world and people have seen their changes on Instagram and they want to know who has helped them achieve these results.
Q. The Kardashians-Jenners, who you have worked very closely with over many years, have had an enormous cultural impact in the last decade and have redefined beauty standards. What in your view is the ‘Kardashian-Jenner effect’?
I think it has been a very positive affect on beauty in many ways. It has given people who did not think they had an option the idea that they do. A lot of women believe that you are either born beautiful or you have to accept what you have. Because beauty is such a powerful tool the secrets of our industry were very jealously guarded. The Kardashians and Jenner’s were amongst the first ones to demystify this and openly share their heavily guarded secrets with people. This has allowed people to see and feel comfortable with the treatments and give people the knowledge that these treatments do exist.
Dr Simon Ourian picutured with Kim Kardashian. (Instagram)
Q. What are the most popular procedures among your celebrity clients?
Most people that come to my practice are interested in facial and body contouring, and skin perfecting. They want these treatments because they have seen that I can achieve very natural results without looking like they had work done, which takes a lot of skill, training, and experience. After 20 years I have developed these particular techniques and very unique technologies that help us achieve these results very easily for my patients. There are still many other reasons people come here. We have a very large center and we take care of all types of procedures with the latest and greatest technologies. If something can be done and the results can be achieved in a natural, effective and safe way, we have a way to have it done at Epione.
Q. Which country is your largest client source in the Middle East and which procedures are in greatest demand?
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the top two locations in the Middle East where procedures are in the greatest demand, and closely ranking as second would be Qatar.
Q. How would you describe your Arab clients?
They are informed, sophisticated, and knowledgeable. They are very specific about what they want to have done. They want their results to be subtle- but they only want the best and that is what they travel so far for. My clients travel from all over the world sometimes. 20 plus hours, to get here so they want to make sure their results are the absolute best.
Q. What and who represents the ideal Arab beauty today and which celebrity face is most referenced amongst your Arab patients?
Kim Kardashian, Haifa Wehbe, and Maya Diab are definitely the most referenced celebrities among my Arab patients.
Q. When a patient comes in from a certain ethnic background, can you predict what they’re going to be looking for?
Not really, since beauty is very specific and each of us look at beauty in a certain way. I always want to keep an open mind about what people want to have done so I do not form any preconceived notions. I want my patients to tell me exactly what they want to have done and what bothers them/what they want to improve upon. I will make some recommendations but I want to make sure I gave them what they came here for.
Q. Are we moving towards globalization of beauty standards and homogenization of what is considered “beautiful”, and are ethnic features being watered down in the process?
I do not think so. We do not have the techniques or tools to achieve a certain look for everyone even if it was designed. What has been considered to be beautiful for many centuries has not changed. Having clear skin, high cheekbones, nice jawline, beautiful lips, big eyes, etc. these are nothing new. What is different, is that now we can achieve these things by the new technologies and tools that we have. And because of that, people would like to have these features as much as possible. But even if I tried to make two people look the same, I will never be able to, it is just not possible we all have such different features that no two people are going to look the same. My goal is not to homogenize beauty but to make a person look their absolute best, and look like themselves.
Q. Millennials and Gen Zers, or what’s largely been dubbed the “selfie generation” and are often described as narcissistic. Have you noticed a change in the psychological mind-set of patients over the years? Do you think social media does more harm than good when it comes to self-love?
No, I think being alive means that you want to take care of yourself. If anything, there has been a very severe shortage of self-love amongst a lot of woman growing up. They are encouraged to sacrifice a lot and give up a lot. It is nice to see in this new generation that taking care of yourself and being kind to yourself is a priority. I believe that if you love yourself you become more of a loving person and in return you have more love to give to other people. So, taking care of yourself and being more appreciative of what you have is nothing but positive. Of course, everything can be taken to extremes but I do not see that in my patients. I believe that when they come to see me it is one of their first steps they are taking for self-love. It allows you to love the people around you and yourself.
Q. Body positivity is on the rise and has expanded societal definitions of beautiful, but it seems that little has really changed in our self-perception as the demand for surgical enhancement is continuing to explode around the world. Do you believe that both these Instagram-born responses to societal messages and standards regarding one’s appearance can coexist?
Yes, body positivity means that appreciate what you have but enhancement means that you improve upon it. They are not mutually exclusive. For example, you can appreciate a nice car you have, and take care of it every day, that doesn’t mean you hate your car, but it means you love it even more. If you appreciate your body the way it is and you want to maintain it in a better way it shows that you have even more love for your body and your own appearance. Vanity is the essence of living. If you wake up every morning and put your best face forward, work your hardest it will allow you to move forward and up in life. To me that is the essence of life, that you keep improving and moving forward.
Q. Tell us the craziest request you’ve ever had from a client?
The craziest request I’ve had from a client is when the client requests to look exactly like somebody else. Luckily this only happens about 1-2 times a year. Usually, they request to look like a celebrity. I think this is the craziest request because it is not possible. I feel that these patients are not emotionally ready to make a choice on a cosmetic enhancement so I politely refuse to do any treatment for them.