THE SECRET OF ETERNAL HYPE; This Doctor Claims to Have Found the Secret of Eternal Youth. A Medical Miracle - or Just the Latest Money-Spinning Stunt from a Man with Decidedly Questionable Ethics?

Article excerpt

Byline: NATASHA PEARLMAN

THE well- dressed gaggle of middleclass ladies quaffing champagne and chatting animatedly would not look out of place in Claridge's or the Ritz.

There is an unmistakable frisson in the air, no doubt thanks to the presence of a camera crew from a German television station who are filming their every move, not to mention the presence of two newspaper journalists mingling among the group.

The women, aged mid-30s to late-40s, are not altogether happy about the obvious media presence - many turn away from the camera and seem a little underwhelmed by the attention. After all, it's not what patients expect to find in their doctor's reception area. But then, neither is champagne on tap.

This, however, is no ordinary doctor's surgery.

It's one of Jeya Prakash's Botox parties, held regularly at his private plastic surgery clinic in Harley Street.

Botox parties hit the headlines six years ago - a social-with-a- syringe, where gangs of female friends converge to get their latest laughter lines ironed out at group discount prices. According to his website, Prakash claims to be the 'innovator' behind these types of parties - but then he would. In the 15 years since he set up his private practice in Harley Street, he has come to recognise only too well the importance of self-promotion in the world of plastic surgery.

With controversial innovations, he learned quickly enough, comes a certain level of fame - and plenty of money. As we shall see, his controversial practices have brought handsome rewards which allow him to live in some luxury.

This week, the world witnessed Dr Prakash's latest headline-grabber - and this time he really went for broke.

He claimed - modestly - to have cracked the secret of eternal youth by injecting himself and his wife Nanthini with Human Growth Hormone (HGH) - a controversial treatment not yet sanctioned in the UK for cosmetic purposes.

In his potentially groundbreaking claims, he offered no more scientific evidence than his own assertions that he had an improved libido and his skin was 'shinier'.

The 'evidence' of his wife's transformation meanwhile, was less empirical still - he claimed that a passport official allegedly mistook the 48-year-old for Prakash's daughter, despite the fact he is only seven years her senior.

Curiously, he declined to provide what has come to be the customary 'before' and 'after' pictures, nor any other documentary proof.

But then, Prakash has always preferred to have the approval of the celebrity world than the support of the scientific community.

He is, after all, the man whose breast enhancement operations turned the unknown model Katie Price into the bizarrely inflated glamour girl Jordan - then famously refused to do her third operation which would have taken her from a 32D to a 32DD. He would later dub her 'grotesque'.

Sources reveal he also regards himself as a pioneer, performing the first buttock implant operation as well as the first 'brow lift' in Britain.But it is with HGH, his latest obsession in a string of what some might argue are increasingly outlandish treatments, that he has raised eyebrows (this time without the help of a scalpel).

Last night, a fellow surgeon, reacting to this week's revelations, questioned Dr Prakash's ethics.

HGH is now made synthetically after initial concerns about CJD contamination, because it was originally collected from dead bodies.

It is used primarily for the treatment of children who suffer abnormally slow bone growth, but has several known side-effects on preexisting conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Even the more minor related complaints such as swelling of the joints, fluid retention and carpal tunnel syndrome (tingling of the hands) are unpleasant.

Today, although HGH can be prescribed for cosmetic purposes 'off licence' if patients are warned that it has not been officially approved, the risks are still very much apparent. …