How is it that cosmetic surgery, especially facelifts, get such a bad rap? It’s another F-word. We immediately consider the person vacuous, self-centered, lacking in social conscience, and reckless with money. In some cases, that may be true, but not all. Here’s why I beg to differ.
In my early 50s, I had a facelift. In my view, I needed it. My jowls and eyelids were droopy, I had heavy lines on my forehead, and big rings around my eyes. I hated looking in the mirror. If I had told you I was in my 60s, you would have believed me. My appearance was seriously messing with my self-esteem.
I had been working out hard for about a year, significantly improving my body, when I began to consider cosmetic surgery. Those same harsh gym lights that highlighted my newly-toned arms also exaggerated my haggard look.
I assessed my meager resources and had consultations with doctors–studiously avoiding my financial planner, whose goal is to give me a solvent retirement.
I finally scheduled a facelift, though it was not an easy decision. I really didn’t want to be One of Those Women who has nothing better to do than obsess about her appearance. Nor did I want to look 15 years older than I was. I knew that a facelift wouldn’t really change me–it would just give me a nicer exterior. Kind of like a “What Not To Wear” makeover for my face.
I tried not to think about the fact that it would cost as much as a late-model automobile.
Right up to the event, there were qualms, especially the night before. How could there not be? There are always risks and pain with surgery. And despite your artiste’s assurances that you will look stunning after a few months, this is not necessarily the case. We’ve all heard stories of procedures that were poorly performed or healed badly. I finally just had to take it on faith that all would be well.
How’d It Go?
I emerged from the 6-hour operation looking and feeling like a space alien who’d crash-landed. I will spare you the crime-scene photos—they are truly gruesome, and are enough to make anyone question such self-mutilation. When I finally left the house, about 2 weeks later, I only did so wearing a Jackie O-like ensemble of headscarf and oversized dark glasses to disguise my surgery-marred appearance. If looks could kill, there would have been a string of corpses in my wake at the supermarket.
The pain and bruising gradually subsided, though I still looked odd, and vaguely Asian. After a few months, I actually began to look normal. Soon, I began to feel mah-velous–like I could accomplish anything. Most importantly, I was still kind, funny, caring me.
How long did the results from the surgery last?
Only a few years, which makes me wonder how people like Joan Rivers keep it up. I think I looked very good for 2 or 3 years, but the age has steadily been creeping back since. See for yourself:
The picture on the left was taken about 6 months after my surgery, which my doctor told me is when a facelift begins to look best. There’s enough swelling still to give a nicely rounded, though taut appearance.
The results have diminished quite a bit, as you can see in the second photo, taken recently.
Would I do it again? I don’t know, but I doubt it. It did wonders for my confidence and self esteem. But all that money and risk make me question a redo. There are less-invasive new methodologies such as Thermage and RFT, that I’d research first. While not cheap, they are much less expensive and supposedly less risky than surgery. None of these methods is perfect, though, so I’d advise you to think long and hard before you make the decision.
My Facelift Q & A
Q: How safe was it?
A: As unsafe as any surgery, with risks from anesthesia and infection. And I’m still not sure whether Blue Cross would have paid had something gone wrong.
Q: How painful was it?
A: In my case, “seriously uncomfortable” might be a better term. Kind of like wearing a too-tight swim cap for a couple of weeks. And you have to sleep sitting up to prevent swelling. The meds helped a lot, though.
Q: Would my skin be stretched tighter than security at the inauguration?
A: Not if I had anything to say about it! I continuously warned my doctor that I wanted to just look rested, and would hunt him down if I looked like I’d just emerged from a wind tunnel. (Some people want really dramatic results for their money–I just wanted to look younger and well rested.) He assured me the effects would be dramatic yet subtle. He told the truth–I still looked like a normal person.