When Beauty is More than Skin Deep

You can’t buy immortality, but you can buy beauty and youth. For many women who can afford it, aging gracefully is a thing of the past; the “in” thing now is cosmetic enhancement.

Celebrity Facelifts

The desire to maintain a youthful appearance is steeped in a culture where Hollywood celebrities are considered the epitome of beauty and glamour. Seeing the eternally stunning Catherine Zeta-Jones on the cover of Vogue and realizing that this woman is in fact nearly 40, for instance, already makes many women green with envy.

Not that we’re saying Catherine Zeta-Jones has had her face done, although it’s been speculated widely in the press. But that’s the thing: not many women, especially celebrities, would admit to having had their looks enhanced. There’s a certain stigma attached to it.

Friends Opinion

If you do a mini-survey among friends and ask them if they would consider having a facelift, chances are, most of them would say no. “I don’t want to tamper with nature; I would rather look old and wrinkled than look fake,” some would say, while others would balk at the huge costs involved (facelifts cost an average of $4,000 to $6,000). Maybe.


Statistics, however, show a different picture: People are actually flocking to surgeons’ clinics in droves, with baby boomers as the largest market.

In 2006 alone, nearly 11 million in the United States had their looks enhanced through cosmetic surgeries. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of Americans who have had cosmetic procedures rose by 162 percent in the last decade.

Records of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reveal that facelifts rank sixth among the most popular surgical cosmetic procedures. In 2007 alone, nearly 116,200 facelift surgeries were performed, with surgeons pocketing over $595.7 millionThe figures are also true elsewhere.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reports that the number of British people who have had cosmetic facelifts in 2007 surged to 36 percent from the previous year.


The popularity of facelifts was marred in part when less expensive and invasive Botox and Restylane and Juvederm fillers came into the scene, and many people consider these a fitting substitute for facelifts. ASPS President Dr. Richard D’Amico, however, says that one can’t rely on injections to do the work if the person “got jowls the size of Kansas.” The best results are achieved when facelifts and injections are used in tandem.

Males and Facelifts

And if you think women are the only ones who are vain about their looks and making cosmetic surgeons rich, think again. Men are also having their “Simon Cowells”-industry slang for saggy jowls-corrected by having the skin pulled tight over the jaw line. According to ASPS, the number of men who have undergone surgical procedures including facelifts since 2006 spiked to 16 percent for men, and only 14 percent for women.


The Harley Medical Group, the most popular cosmetic surgery provider in the United Kingdom, said it had performed 55,000 cosmetic surgeries on British males. Even with the bad economy, the number of male patients rose from 18 to 26 percent this year. Not bad for a country where facelifts cost £4,000-£9,000.

Overall, however, the recession has decreased the overall number of people opting for facelifts and other surgical procedures which are not covered by insurance, although many people in the U.S. were still willing to shell out thousands of dollars-recession or no recession-to maintain their youthful looks.

Worries over the down economy have in fact made people feel more anxious to look good to have an edge in the job market. Other than Hollywood, the real estate and food service industries tend to put a premium on youth and beauty. As Las Vegas plastic surgeon and spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgery Dr. William Zamboni puts it: “No one’s going to hire a cocktail waitress with an A cup who looks like she’s 50… The industry defines the image, which defines the demand. I think it goes in that order.”

With the news that the U.S. economy is now on the upswing, the ailing facelift industry is set to have, well, a facelift. This piece of news could make beauty buffs and cosmetic surgeons around the world more ecstatic than the rest.

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