With more than 50,000 patients on their books, including a host of celebrities, husband-and-wife team Lesley Reynolds and Dr Aamer Khan certainly have their hands full. But that hasn’t stopped the couple – aka the Queen and King of Harley Street – from taking on a new venture in addition to their Harley Street Skin business.
The duo recently launched a wellness and anti-ageing retreat at Ballingdon Hall in Suffolk, with celebrities including Sherrie Hewson,Claire Sweeney and Linda Barker in attendance at the opening.
They really are the go-to for anyone seeking VIP treatment, and they don’t just cater for celebrities – although if you book in to Ballingdon Hall you may well find yourself having breakfast with one in their gorgeous Tudor dining hall.
In fact, OK! columnist Lesley and Dr Khan have treated everyone from Gillian Taylforth to Beverley Callard – as well as Hollywood A-listers who can’t be named for confidentiality reasons.
The couple opened the doors to their first clinic on the world-famous Harley Street in 2005 and it quickly went from strength to strength, growing from one treatment room to occupying a whole townhouse in London’s Marylebone.
Here, Lesley and Dr Khan open up about their celebrity clientele, how they climbed to the top of their profession, and which famous person their customers most want to look like…
Hi, both! You have so many clients – who has been your most high-profile?
Lesley: There are so many we can’t name as we’ve signed a lot of non-disclosure agreements, but there’s always a buzz in the waiting room when Dynasty star Stephanie Beacham comes in for skincare and facials. Same with Patsy Kensit who often used to come to our central London clinic. I think people are always thrilled to see someone they’ve grown up with in the flesh, and if they bump into them at our place they are guaranteed to be looking good!
With Hollywood stars, sometimes we get whisked off to different countries. Same with royalty and seriously wealthy A-listers, who
all have confidentiality agreements. Although we can’t name all our patients, trust me when I say you’d be wowed at some of the faces we’ve helped to avoid the ageing process.
Dr Khan is often flown off in a helicopter at the last minute to treat someone who needs to be red-carpet ready mega fast – it can be very exciting!
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What about members of the UK royal family?
Lesley: Our official statement on that question is always the same. Whether we do or we don’t, we would never say. There are some things we’re not able to talk about…
Do you have a favourite client?
Lesley: I love all our clients equally – they are all lovely – but I do have a soft spot for Gillian Taylforth as I’ve looked after her skin for 25 years and she’s just such a lovely person. We adore Beverley Callard and Carol Harrison, too, so we were thrilled to welcome them to Ballingdon for their “getaway makeovers”.
Beverley was so impressed with alternative no-surgical treatments that she’s actually cancelled the face-lift she was planning. That’s what we love about this industry – it’s ever evolving and we are at the forefront.
Dr Khan: Stephanie is so lovely, as is Beverley Knight, and I always love treating Sherrie Hewson who certainly likes to try anything new.
How did you get to be at the top of your game?
Lesley: We’ve both got a real passion for what we do and we love people. We provide a service where everyone is treated like a VIP and exactly the same, no matter who they are or what they spend.
Dr Khan: One of the things I love about how we’ve developed the business is that a lot of our family are involved in the management structure.
Lesley: My son, daughter and two of my nephews work here. It’s very much a family business. I think that shows the patients just how safe they are in our hands. We know one day when we decide our time is up, our children will continue the brand so that’s a nice legacy to have built.
How did you go about building up your celebrity clientele?
Lesley: We were taken on by a celebrity agent in 2006 after she asked us what we’d done to a particular celebrity. We said we couldn’t tell her but we could offer her treatments that would address her own concerns. She was so impressed that she brought one of her clients, the actress Claire King who was just about to do Strictly Come Dancing.
She’s a stunning woman but she’d just gone through a divorce and felt she’d lost a bit of sparkle. It was easy to give her that back and she’s a dear friend. Celebrities talk, so suddenly more started arriving. More and more people began to hear of us so I guess that’s how we grew. From that we had a 10-part series on Sky, called Stitch Me, Lift Me, Tuck Me, which was syndicated all over the world.
Is it true that you once refused to treat Katie Price?
Dr Khan: Katie used to come in for dermatology and she asked if we would do specific cosmetic work with her and we said, “Not really, because we don’t do the look you like,” so we encouraged her to go to the places that do.
Lesley: Our philosophy is about looking natural and enhancing what you’ve got. So many young girls come in asking to look like the cast of The Only Way Is Essex and we say, “You’ll never look like anyone else, you should just want to be the best version of you that you can be.“ So we turn a lot of people down.
It’s a lovely feeling to help someone look the best they can and not create a second-rate version of someone they aren’t. There’s a big responsibility to make sure you don’t overdo things as you can go from looking amazing to tacky in half a syringe of filler. It’s up to us to say to people, “You’re going too far.”
We do have people who don’t come to us any more as we’ve said we’re not going to treat them. We don’t want to be the ones who have mutilated people, basically, as that’s how it will look.
Dr Khan: It’s a delicate path we tread because, if they come to us and we decline them, they can go down the road and get the treatment, so sometimes we have to support them psychologically and refer them. There is that responsibility that we feel very strongly about.
Surgery will get a bad rep if we do it for the wrong reasons but we support our patients throughout the whole journey.
Is there a particular celebrity who your clients most ask to look like?
Lesley: The most common one used to be Amy Childs. There was something very cherubic about her, which a lot of younger girls like because she’s very doll-like. But ever since she’s returned to EastEnders, Gillian Taylforth is the celebrity that any woman over 40 asks about.
They want to stop the clock like she did. She looks exactly as she did 25 years ago – and the secret to that is looking after your skin.
Did you see a surge in clients wanting treatments after lockdown lifted?
Lesley: Oh yes. I think it came from this whole “Zoom face” thing. People were just staring at their face all day and particularly noticing their jowls.
We were inundated as soon as we reopened with people wanting to have their jowls done. Younger girls want to have their buccal fat taken away, which is the fat just below their cheeks, and older women are more concerned about their jawlines and lower faces.
And finally, tell us about your new wellness retreat…
Lesley: I saw this house on the news 50 years ago because it was famously moved up the hill to a quieter setting. It’s surrounded by lakes and streams, and dates from 1593. I promised myself if I ever saw it for sale and I could afford it, I would buy it.
Last year it finally came on the market. We were already full to the brim at Harley Street so it made perfect sense to start a new clinic here, as well as being able to move into my dream home.
We don’t just offer cosmetic treatments here. We specialise in anti-ageing bioidentical hormone therapy and we’ve also started a mind, body and soul programme.
Dr Khan: A lot of people who come to the retreat are burnt out. Most of the retreats are for eight to 10 people but we’ve had someone who hired the whole place for himself for a week. For that you’re looking at around £15,000, but you’re given a full medical and have your own trainer, dietician, masseuse and treatments.
For more information about Lesley and DR KHAN’s London practice visit harleystreetskinclinic.com, and for Ballingdon Hall details visit Ballingdonhall.co.uk.
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