So I saw an attractive 25-year-old woman yesterday who consulted me because she was convinced she wanted a facelift. A Mini-facelift, yes, but still a facelift. On exam, this woman had a lovely facial shape and a well-defined neck. No massive weight loss, no skin disorders resulting in abnormal facial laxity, no turkey gobbler passed on from her father. She just thought a small facelift would make her feel prettier. What’s more, another plastic surgeon in Denver had already agreed to perform a facelift on her. She was getting a second opinion from me because she liked my before and after photos online.
I explained to her that, in my opinion, she is simply not a reasonable candidate for this type of surgery. She’s too young and too pretty, and no matter how aggressively I lifted her face, she would see results for maybe a few years. After that, all she would have is the scars and the lost money she’d spent. “Couldn’t I just do it again at that time?”, she asked. At that rate, she’d be having her fifth facelift by the time she was forty. That’s insane.
Now I don’t think this woman has body dysmorphia, a condition I am acutely aware of during my consult days. She has simply bought into the media’s fascination with plastic surgery, and it’s minimization of risk and recovery. Like many people, she doesn’t appreciate that these are real operations with real risks, recovery, and side-effects. Heidi Montag had ten procedures at once in an effort to completely change her appearance, and was being touted as a “hero” by her plastic surgeon for her bravery. In comparison, a small facelift on a 25-year-old seems positively conservative!
I told this young woman that all elective surgery is a fine balance between the potential benefits and the predictable and potential downsides. In her case, there was no way I could justify the procedure, and told her so. And you know what? She left happier than she came in.