Plastic Surgery no Fountain of Youth
More than one million people undergo elective cosmetic surgery annually in the U.S., with hundreds of thousands choosing a facelift, eyelid surgery, or rhinoplasty according to information from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The vast majority go through these procedures to correct some perceived flaw, make themselves appear more attractive, and/or restore their youthful looks. But the truth is, that at least when it comes to fighting Father Time, they may be subjecting themselves to all kinds of risks for very little value. New research has found that facelifts and other forms of facial plastic surgery only help patients look a few years younger and don't help at all in improving attractiveness.
The study, which was conducted through Lenox Hill Hospital and the Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Institute in New York City, determined that cosmetic surgery on the face only made people look an average of three years younger.1 Extensive work resulted in somewhat younger appearances than those who opted for a more minor type of procedure. However, and more importantly, all of the various kinds of facial plastic surgery failed to make the subjects look more attractive to others.
The researchers recruited 50 random participants to view before and after pictures of cosmetic surgery patients--none of whom were known to them--and take a guess as to their age as well as rate their looks. In order to keep the volunteers unaware of the aim of the study, none of them were shown any photos of the same patient before and after their procedures. The photographs were taken of 49 people (37 women and 12 men) who had elected to undergo some facial plastic surgery procedure by a surgeon in Toronto who was involved in the study. All of the surgeries were fairly recent, having taken place between July of 2006 and July of 2010.
At the time their photographs were taken, the patients were anywhere from 42 to 73 years old and had an average age of 57. The participants tended to rate all of the patients slightly younger than their actual ages, with the before-surgery candidates perceived as approximately 2.1 years younger than real life and the post-surgery individuals coming in at approximately 5.2 years younger--a savings of only 3 years total. They were then asked to rate the person in each photo using a scale of one to 10, with 10 representing the best looking. The vast majority of the patients, approximately 75 percent, were given ratings between four and seven, and these ratings did not go up one single bit in the after pictures.
While the study may have its flaws--using only a small population sample and including the work of just one surgeon, for example--it does clearly point to some evidence that having plastic surgery is not exactly the panacea that all of those nip-and-tuck specialists would have you believe…and that most of us hope for. These procedures are not covered by insurance and can be very costly, averaging somewhere around $6,400 for a facelift and $2,700 for an eyelid tuck, according to a 2011 survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.2 Not to mention the risks we put ourselves through by undergoing unnecessary surgeries. In fact, most people are not aware of all of the potential risks. A 2012 study at the University of Melbourne in Australia found that physicians don't always voluntarily disclose the health hazards a procedure poses. Plus, there may be complications associated with cosmetic procedures such as scarring, bleeding, infection, hair loss, nerve injury, and more.3 And, while going to a hospital for these surgeries is often no picnic, many plastic surgeons perform the procedures right in their offices. That may be convenient, but it truly becomes a case of buyer beware, making it essential that patients thoroughly research a physician's certifications and experience before going under the knife.
To obtain an end result of looking only three years younger and no more attractive, it certainly doesn't seem worthwhile to go for plastic surgery if natural anti aging is your thing. If you want to look your best the natural way, eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of antioxidants and drink water throughout the day. Work out daily to tone your body. Cut back on alcoholic drinks that leave you bloated and quit smoking if that's your vice because it has been associated with premature aging of the skin. And check out supplementing with an L-carnosine based formula. And check out Jon Barron's newsletter on skin health, which contains an entire section on how to reverse skin aging. Making simple changes to your lifestyle is often all it takes to enhance your looks, and it provides the added bonus of helping you feel your best too.
For more on aging in general, check out Jon Barron's four part series on The Nature of Aging.
- 1. "How facelifts make us look younger by just three years: Study discovers how we perceive the success of plastic surgery." Daily Mail. 1 August 2013. Accessed 15 August 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2382922/How-facelifts-make-look-younger-just-3-years.html
- 2. "Financing Your Cosmetic Surgery." WebMD. 21 September 2012. Accessed 16 August 2013. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/treatments/financing-your-cosmetic-surgery
- 3. "Facelift Surgery." American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2012. Accessed 16 August 2013. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/facelift.html