Do you hear those famous lyrics in your head when you look in the mirror, because you wish you could change the physical effects of aging, childbirth and undesirable genetics? Yet, do you experience self-recrimination and guilt for wanting to change your saggy breasts, belly hang, sagging jawline or drooping eyelids…instead of just accepting them? Do you think “Am I vain to want cosmetic surgery?” Stop the music and consider that cosmetic surgery is more than vanity.
As a cosmetic plastic surgeon, when I’m meeting a female patient for the first time, I often hear women admit to having these feelings. A confession of sorts. A juggling act of emotions and self judgments for wanting to surgically change themselves. Even self-recrimination for their desire to look and feel younger. These women struggle to balance their desires with the social stigmatism, secular and even religious values that they may have been raised with regarding plastic surgery and changing their bodies. And ultimately, the inner turmoil created by putting their needs and desires above other financial responsibilities. These are common emotions with many women, particularly those over 50 – the baby boomers and the Generation X. These women were often raised to be selfless care takers, always putting the needs of other first. So, putting themselves first is not a natural thought process.
Many women feel guilty about spending money on a breast lift, tummy tuck or any other self-improvement when there are always house repairs and car maintenance to be done. Or perhaps their children need college tuition, clothes and other stuff. The irony is most women would get their car repainted if it got keyed, but they feel guilty about “fixing” their bodies! To compound their emotions, their partners often unknowingly add to this mantle of guilt by telling them they look fine just the way they are and they “don’t need to change anything.” These comments are well intended but can leave a woman feeling more isolated in her desires for self-improvement.
Some women experience real social distress and embarrassment by their bodies. Dating becomes difficult. They restrict their social interaction by avoiding places where they would need to wear less clothing, like the beach or pool parties. Even putting on makeup can be stressful, because foundation settles into saggy, wrinkled skin. Eye shadow only accentuates crepey, drooping eyelids, and just never looks good.
Let me encourage those of you who can relate to this – gather your courage, research a board certified plastic surgeon and schedule a consultation to discuss the things that are really bothering you. I strongly urge you to visit the website American Society Of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) to find a qualified surgeon near you. Then take the extra step to do the research on the doctor(s) you are interested in. Consultations are usually complimentary. Think of your consultation as an opportunity to interview someone you may want to hire to work for you. The right surgeon will listen to your needs, take the time answer all your questions and give you options to choose from. You should feel a strong sense of trust and competency about the surgeon.
The staff should make you feel special and cared for and the office should be clean and run efficiently. The results of excellent plastic surgery can be positively life changing in many ways. For example, if a woman has been embarrassed for years about sagging breasts, a breast lift will bring them back to a higher, natural position and with an implant for volume replacement, she can have the breasts of a young woman. She will look beautiful, but more importantly, she will feel beautiful! This leads to greater self-esteem and pride. Suddenly, she is able to give more to her family and those she loves because she feels better about herself. Women can also experience an increase in sex drive due to feeling more comfortable with their bodies. In a professional environment, the youthful appearance gained from plastic surgery can be very important during the interview process or help to improve job security. Unfortunately, ageism does exist and we live in an age biased society where looking young and vital will always trump looking old and seasoned. Appropriate plastic surgery is the best way to protection from ageism.
Many plastic surgeries can also provide more comfort in daily living. A tummy tuck can remove the “tube” feeling from around the abdomen and helps a workout be more productive. Liposuction can reduce chafing from tighter fitting clothes and easier to shop for clothes that fit well and look amazing. Cosmetic surgery can be a great catalyst to begin a healthier lifestyle and motivation to engage in more physical activity. The physical and emotional satisfaction elevates many aspects of life.
However, the over 50 crowd can be caught in lingering negative attitudes about plastic surgery, opening that door of self-doubt and guilt. Plastic surgery was rarely “done” when they were younger and then it was only whispered about. Not surprisingly, the following Generations – the younger X, the Y and now Z, are very open to plastic surgery and will even boast about having it done. What a change! Social attitudes and behaviors continue to evolve. In the 1920s, ear piercing was considered to be something of a taboo in the upper echelons of society and usually associated with bohemian behavior.
Today, it’s hard to find a woman who doesn’t have her ears pierced. It’s normal. Also today, wanting to surgically correct what is “ugly” to an individual and interfering with the life they want to have is a normal response. In fact, the modern day attitudes regarding plastic surgery have shifted toward realizing that the body truly is a beautiful thing that needs to be maintained – much more than repainting the car that got keyed or buying new furniture for the house. We already maintain our hair by cutting and coloring it and our nails with regular manicures and pedicures. Plastic surgery is now an important form of maintenance for our bodies. So, research an excellent plastic surgeon and feel great about the office you visit. Trust them to take care of you and to correct and enhance your areas of concern. Improve your self-image. Embrace life with more confidence and increased self-esteem. Feel energized. It’s time to have your outside match what you feel on the inside! It’s time to look in the mirror and love what you see.
Now that…is aging gracefully!
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