This is a real headline on CBS: “Plastic surgery takes years off appearance, study finds.” The study, published in The Archives of Plastic Surgery, tested age perception of various control groups—each with one type of surgery or another—and confirms that the perceived age was 7.2 years younger than actual age on average. The study authors think this information will help doctors provide realistic expectations for patients; I think the study sounds like a school report masquerading as proof that we should all go get botoxed.
The study authors basically took photos of 60 patients, all between 45 and 72 years old, and all of whom had had some kind of plastic surgery. Some had face and neck lifts, another group had face and neck lifts plus eyelid work, and another had eyelid work and face, neck and forehead lifts. Volunteer medical school students guessed their ages by the photographs; they guessed 5.7 years younger than the actual age for the first group, 7.5 years for the second, and 8.9 years for the third.
CBS asked Dr. Michael Olding, director of the division of plastic surgery at George Washington University, what he thought about the study. He said it “points to the obvious” when it comes to multiple procedures:
Doing a number of small things makes a tremendous difference when combined, rather than making a tremendous difference in one area.
The more the merrier, or in this case, the more the younger.
First, let’s just say that “the more the merrier” is not a phrase I’d associate with plastic surgery (hasn’t anyone seen Lisa Rinna, or heard her talk about how she wishes she hadn’t gotten so much done to her face?). Second, what the study (and article), cleverly omits is that no one’s accounting for how long these procedures last, and how patients feel about the way they look. Getting lots of procedures done over time may help you look young when you’re just three-deep, but when, eight years later, you feel your face and brow lift has started to lose its luster, there seems to be a slippery slope between trying to take off five years and starting to look like Joan Rivers.