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Common concerns about cosmetic surgery

Dear Betwixt and Between,

Recently, my close friend had a facelift, something she avoided for many years, mainly because she worried about complications associated with surgery, but also because of her concern about the change in her appearance. Her younger self would have never considered doing anything for cosmetic reasons because it wasn’t “natural.” Cosmetic surgery, she thought, was for someone who was too self-absorbed. After all, growing old was a normal process, and she was going to do it gracefully, embracing the wrinkles with gratitude for a life well lived.

“What changed?” I asked.

“Over the last ten years, I noticed an odd thing happen,” she said. “The shape of my face looked different and a fatty pouch formed underneath my chin. It was most apparent when I looked at photos. At first, I blamed it on the camera angle, or bad lighting, but eventually, all those small changes turned into one big change that completely altered my appearance. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t look like me, even though I still felt like me. “

She began her story in a near-whisper as if talking about her aging face would erase the surgery and the joy she has now, but by the end of our conversation, her unbridled enthusiasm was loud and clear.

“I want anyone who is thinking about cosmetic surgery to know how it has made me feel. After years of eluding the face that was peering back at me in the mirror, after years of trying to make my neck disappear with things like make-up, scarves, and new hairstyles, I feel like me!” she said.

My friend’s story is an important one to know. Yet, we are much more familiar with the tale of bad plastic surgery: the woman who looks like an alien because her skin is pulled so tight she can barely turn her head. That outcome is the exception, not the rule.

Of course, all of us would like to age gracefully, but the truth is everyone’s face shape changes with age. The beautiful round, heart, or oval faces of our youth turn square from the effects of gravity and loss of elasticity associated with aging. Add the extra fat that pops up in areas such as the upper eyelids or neck and we feel doomed.

However, here is something to take comfort in and to consider as you ponder the plastic surgery question. The majority of patients who seek plastic surgery are not looking to become the next supermodel, nor are they so vain that their quest for perfection consumes their daily life. Nope. These people are like you and me. They have careers, families, and hobbies. They want to look in the mirror and see someone who looks as good as they feel on the inside.

If you are thinking about a facelift or a cosmetic procedure, I encourage you to explore the possibilities by talking to people who have had it done. Ask your doctor and the staff questions, and share what you are most afraid of as it relates to the procedure you are considering. Being confident with your doctor and understanding the process are the components that prepare you for the decision that is right for you.

As my friend hung up the phone, she told me it feels wonderful, and a little shocking—in a fantastic way, when your relatives and friends say, “Oh my goodness, you look really, really good!”

Love, Libby

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