Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Plastic Surgery: yes, no, and if not now, then when?

Aaryn Belfer's got an article in the San Diego City Beat in which she takes apart a new picture book for kids called My Beautiful Mommy. It was written by a plastic surgeon in order to help, he assures us, the children of his patients get used to mommy's new nose or belly or tits (I think he's a tad gentler in the book). I'm not going to name the good doctor because I don't want him to get more attention than he's already bought with (I'll bet) some megabucks PR firm. If you want to know more, go read Aaryn's article, which is one and at the same time funny and mad and incisive, in other words just the kind of writing I love.

Susan Myrland turned me onto Aaryn's article because she "wanted my opinion." I started to email a response to her, but I got wound up and wired and thought--whoa! plastic surgery, is this not the very thing for MidLifeBloggers? I had a selection of titles for this post. Cosmetic Surgery: Kindness? Cure? or Cruelty? But the c/k sound seemed a bit more alliteration that even I was willing to go for. Then I thought Plastic Surgery: Kindest Cut, or Cruelest? That was marginally better, but it really didn't sum up my thoughts. The title I've used above does just that.

One can't have spent as much time living in Los Angeles as I have without being exposed to a variety of what we euphemistically call Work. Some of it wasn't bad, and some of it was pig-shit dreadful. The Work that was good--well, that, like the cheerful American tourist, just passed on by without notice. Okay, there is one case where I visited a friend of mine post-face lift and to thig day, I wonder if her surgeon just wrapped her in bandages and told her she'd had surgery. Twentyfour hours after the lift, I couldn't see a thing except that with the full head bandages, she looked, as she put it, like a Q-tip. So, while I have never had Work Done myself, as we say euphemistically, I certainly can say my opinion is "informed" by visual sightings of the good, the bad and the truly awful.

Why haven't I had Work Done? That facelift that my friend, the Qtip, had was $20,000--and that was just the doctor's charge, never mind what the suite at the Four Seasons Recovery Unit cost her. So bottom line is really the bottom line; I just don't have the spare thousands. If I did, would I do it? I'm not sure. The idea of having the skin on my face peeled back, flayed actually, is sort of scary. Sort of--hah!

As I write this, I'm realizing that my reasons for not having plastic surgery are mostly to do with fear that I would be the dreaded After example. I'm scared shitless to let someone mess around with my face, I don't care how many letters after his name he has. And so I tell myself that I'm proud to wear my wrinkles and sags and bags and dips and brown spots and--oh my god, I am so depressing myself. I've earned every one of these little fuckers: yada yada yada, fill in the Jamie Lee Curtis tape.

So what about some less INVASIVE procedure? Well, there's Botox. I would have Botox except that, drat it, I don't need it. My forehead has no wrinkles; it's as smooth as a baby's bottom, etc. etc. etc. I do have some crow's feet and I could get Botox shot in them, but really, they're not sufficiently bad, or maybe I just wear my hair hanging over my eyes and I can't see them.

No, the procedure I would have is something to eradicate those marionette lines that have now taken over my lower jaw. I'd like some Restylane pumped into them, not too much, just enough so that they're not so deep. I've noticed that when I look in the mirror and smile, they ease up nicely. And I find myself trying to remember to smile in repose. Except I fear that too much of that and people will wonder 'what the fuck is she smiling at?' I've got a big wedding in New York that I'm going to at the end of June. I'm thinking I'll make a doctor's appointment about the end of May. Or maybe I'll just smile at the wedding. Depends on where I am on the Adventure-O-Meter this month.

So the answer to your question, Susan, is: I'm not sure. I don't have a philosophical or moral or ethical problem with plastic surgery. I don't think it's a denial of aging; nor do I blame our youth-obsessed yada yada society. Frankly, we live where and how we do, and my feeling is we've got to deal with life as it best suits us. Not someone else. Us. Me. Jane.

And you?

Crossposted at MidLifeBloggers

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So--whaddaya think?