The Risks of Facelifts

The Risks of Facelifts (<i>cont'd</i>)

Joyce feels her facelift—coupled with some laser eye resurfacing performed at the same time—has taken 10 years off her appearance. Some acquaintances have told her it's more like 15.

Being a little prettier—looking younger and feeling more confident—are fine reasons for desiring a facelift, plastic surgeons agree. But doctors shy away from working on someone who has unrealistic expectations or is going through an emotionally unstable time.


"Don't expect that a facelift will make you more competitive in the workplace," Kinney warns. Other misguided reasons for wanting a facelift, according to the doctor: "I want to get a younger boyfriend," or "I think my husband will leave me if I start to look too old."

It is common, Kinney says, for a person to aspire to look like a certain attractive entertainer—Raquel Welch or Catherine Deneuve, for example. "The public sometimes has astronomical expectations of what cosmetic surgery can achieve," Kinney says. "The reality is, plastic surgery isn't about making fantasies come true. What it can do is enhance what you have, to help you look and feel more youthful, happy, fulfilled, confident."

Most people look for this youth booster in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, like Joyce did. But according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, people can have successful facelifts into their 70s and 80s.

There is a trend toward having smaller, subtle operations starting at a younger age, according to Kinney. He fears, however, that some young people seek a facelift before they're ready because of what he calls the "relentless pursuit of perfection among baby boomers."

He has talked some young people out of having the operation; others return to him for a facelift after honoring his request to rethink their decision, bearing in mind the financial investment, recovery time, and risks involved in the surgery

All things considered, Joyce is delighted with the results of her facelift. "It's really nice to have a chin again." Joyce's face will continue to age, she knows, but she knows, too, that she can expect to always retain a more youthful appearance than if she never had the facelift at all. She doesn't plan to have another face operation in 10 or 20 years like some people do. "I'm very content. It's not my goal in life to look 50 when I'm 80."