What You Can Learn From My ‘Over Seventies Club’
Most women these days are aware that modern plastic surgery can maintain a persons’ attractive facial appearance. After all, the subject is so regularly featured one way or another in women’s magazines. However, not so many are aware of the tremendous psychologic benefits to well-being that follows when people ‘take control’ of their aging process. Indeed, those who know this have usually learnt it from personal experience. Even fewer people know that quality plastic surgery actually slows down the rate of facial aging and of its progression. In fact, many plastic surgeons do not really appreciate this! And how few realise that so much of the fear of aging is to do with the fear of losing your face from the passage of time alone, to be the older person we were destined to become.
Everyone is aware of the natural reluctance to having plastic surgery and for the many reasons. Because of this reluctance, the end result is that most people defer any consideration of surgery. At least until they experience the future when aging changes suddenly appear on their face, which then concerns them so much to make it a pressing issue.
This is why so many women who come to their Plastic Surgeon for assistance with their tired, and often-aged appearance have missed the ‘ideal time’ to have surgery. This is the subject of a separate blog for a different discussion. Ironically though, quite a few had thought they were doing the correct thing in waiting until they were in their late fifties before consulting a plastic surgeon.
Let’s digress for a moment about something you would not have thought about, as it occurs behind closed doors. It would surprise you to know what a plastic surgeon has the opportunity to learn about human nature from dealing with it from one patient to the next, day in and day out. You would think female plastic surgeons would already be aware of this fact, as they have grown up always being a woman they have not had to learn it, which is when its significance becomes apparent. I have learnt it from some of my female patients, who are in what I call my “over seventies club”. It took many years before I finally realised something so profound that I could formulate this observation about human nature and plastic surgery. If you are still ‘under age’ as far as plastic surgery is concerned, you may wonder how this could be of interest to you.
The women in this group all appear to be in their fifties and don’t have that cosmetic surgery ‘look’ indicates they have work performed. Subsequently they are simply treated by people as they appear, fifty year olds. Significantly, as they feel like they are in their fifties, they behave like it, so for all intents and purposes they are. They tend to exercise and take care of themselves as a modern day fifty year old does. Yet, they are in their seventies, and a few are even in their mid to late seventies.
In my earlier years in practice, these patients were in their forties and fifties and I did not understand their motives. They were grateful for their surgeries, mainly eyelids, facelifts and browlifts. It was the fact, they returned within a few years requesting further surgery that concerned me, as it was not usual. In fact, we were cautioned about the ‘repeat patient’ during training as a plastic surgeon, because their concern about appearance pointed to a type of underlying obsessive disorder. I also had some trepidation they could end up looking overdone as happens when traditional surgery is repeated. I was also worried they would ultimately become disenchanted with my work from being disappointed at not obtaining the ‘well done look’, even though they insisted they wanted to look natural. But none of this occurred to me at the time!
In fact, I ended up learning from this experience of being ‘pushed’ beyond the traditional comfort zone of plastic surgeons. Their keen eye for detail significantly heightened my aesthetic sense. Even if a result fell short of their perfectionistic ideal they were graciously understanding as well as persistent and loyal!
From their persistence, I learnt another extremely important lesson; the best results in aesthetic surgery of the face often come, not from the original major surgery alone, but from adding in the final little touch up details later on. In effect this is obtaining a better final result by incremental changes over time. This requires a new and different attitude from the traditional approach in aesthetic surgery.
Persistence and patience are required, which these ‘over seventies’ usually have in spades. I have subsequently developed and recognised that this approach is right for them. Some have said quite explicitly that maintaining their facial appearance is ‘a work in progress’ if they are to remain on top of the relentless way that nature gives us aging changes. A few even compare it to maintaining a beautiful garden that gives so much pleasure!
I now realise, the term ‘over seventies’ does not do them justice. From now on, I will refer to them as the ‘forever fifties‘. This will be the topic of my next blog.