Sydney Loney, Special to National Post
When an actor returned from a camping trip with poison ivy on his face – two days before the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival – Dr. Lisa Kellett got the call.
Cold sores, sunburns and cosmetic procedures gone wrong are among the more common celebrity skincare crises the Toronto dermatologist has been asked to swoop in and solve in a hurry. “Depending on the timeline, I’m usually just pulling out a big bag of tricks to fix the problem fast,” Kellett says. “Fortunately, it’s a really big bag.”
Over more than 20 years as a skin doctor, Kellett has catered to everyone from children getting pro bono help at her scar treatment program to high-profile clients who have their own secret entrance to her clinic.
They don’t always use it. It’s actually pretty easy for movie stars to slip into her office incognito, she says. “Sometimes when you jump through hoops to make sure it’s private, they’ll say ‘Oh, I don’t care’ and just walk in the front door.”
Although where she sees patients may vary, Kellett says all her clients gets the same star treatment otherwise. “As a physician, I help everybody the same way. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your name is.” Her biggest pet peeve is how rare that attitude can be in the healthcare system.
“I find it very backward that the most important thing to us is our health, but our healthcare system doesn’t give good customer service. When you buy something from Hermes, you get great service. And a scarf is nice and all, but you should be getting that same service in healthcare.”
When someone suddenly has something wrong with their skin, they want to be seen immediately, she says. Her job is to make it happen – especially when a client’s livelihood depends on the way they look.
Sometimes clients just want to look “fresher,” Kellett says. She does a brisk trade in Botox and laser peels before red-carpet events. “Skin looks smoother and makeup goes on better,” she says.
But she’s also asked to fix a cosmetic procedure gone wrong. She is frequently called to movie sets where shooting has stalled because of overzealous injecting. “The director will go to do a side shot and they can’t because the actor’s lips are too big – when it’s overdone, it’s very distracting.” Kellett dissolves the fillers on set so shooting can resume.
She also fields a lot of panicked calls from rock stars who have had reactions to treatments done elsewhere. “It’s very stressful for them. They’ll say ‘I can’t do the concert tonight, I can’t go on stage like this.’”
Kellett is calm and reassuring. “I just walk in and say, ‘Okay, what can I do? How can I help?’ Then I fix whatever issue they’re having and the show can go on.”