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Opinion March 2018

Leslie Goes Boom

Plastic Surgery or Wrinkles?

By Leslie Handler

I have no desire to have a facelift. Growing up seeing all the "beautiful" people become more beautiful certainly influenced me to want to look my best. Seeing my mother-in-law go through something so devastating for sheer vanity, also had its influence on me.

My dad is a retired plastic surgeon. You could say that because of the way he made his living, I was clothed, fed and educated by the vanity of others. You would be right – 75 percent of the time. There are folks who have plastic surgery for medical reasons –  damage from going through a car windshield, birth defects, cancer removals, etc. But most of my dad's patients were wealthy, famous, or both, who simply wanted to look better.

As my father's daughter, I financially benefitted from their vanity. I don't think this is a bad thing. I believe that if you've always had a big nose and hated being taunted for it, there is nothing wrong with having it adjusted to make you feel better about yourself. If you have "Obama" ears, and they bother you, get them fixed, and if you have wrinkles, and you don't like looking old, get a facelift.

Even though age discrimination is illegal, we all know that if you look better, you're more likely to get the job. If you'll feel better about your appearance, why not?

Even though I grew up believing this, plastic surgery is not all that black and white to me. At 87, my own mother-in-law decided that she wanted her second facelift. Although she was in good health, I was very opposed to her having the surgery. I didn't understand why it was so important to her. I didn't understand why she would risk surgery at her age just to look better. I actually asked her if it really made that much of a difference to her if she looked 77 instead of 87. She said yes.

She asked me to go with her to the consultation with the plastic surgeon. My dad was long retired, but I still knew what questions to ask. I had hoped to get all the wrong answers and talk her out of the surgery. I did get all the wrong answers. I didn't like the doctor's qualifications. Nonetheless, they were good enough for Mom and she signed up for the facelift.

Her family doctor cleared her to have the surgery. She was instructed to stop taking her daily aspirin in preparation so that she would limit her bleeding. A week after the procedure she had a devastating stroke that changed and limited her life. I've never forgiven myself for not having the ability to talk her out of having the surgery.

Of course all surgery comes with risks. Of course an 87 year old wanting a facelift is a riskier proposition than a 47 year old. But even at 57, I have no desire to have a facelift. Growing up seeing all the "beautiful" people become more beautiful certainly influenced me to want to look my best. Seeing my mother-in-law go through something so devastating for sheer vanity, also had its influence on me.

The world knows I'm 57 years old. Looking it doesn't seem to bother me. Some women take pride in looking younger. Others take pride in their wrinkles. They feel they've earned each and every one.

After living with recurrent cancer for 20 years, I'm just glad to see mine. Just don't ask me about my sagging boobs or my lumpy belly.

 

I’ve fallen and I CAN get up are the words I live by because when I fall and go BOOM, I always get back up."

Meet Leslie