I was recently asked to change someone’s photo on a story because she’d had a nose job. Or, as the PR called it, “a procedure”. It got me thinking. How do you explain it when you come back to work after you’ve had cosmetic surgery?
I need to acknowledge from the outset that I’m not a great fan of cosmetic surgery for vanity’s sake. Every time I’ve clocked someone after they've gone under the knife all I can see is the work they’ve had done – I can’t see the real person any more.
I end up feeling really sad for them that they have so little self-esteem they have to resort to a scalpel to make themselves feel better. It seems a pretty drastic action. And I wonder if the surgery really does make them prettier and happier. To my eye, it rarely makes people look more beautiful.
It seems the academics back up my opinion. According to a recent US study on the perceived age and attractiveness of someone after surgery “there was a small but insignificant increase in attractiveness scores in post-procedural photographs relative to pre-procedural photographs”. In addition “the mean overall years saved following aesthetic facial surgery was 3.1”.
To my eye, having major surgery when the effect makes you look neither more beautiful nor much younger is a big risk.
Consider this patient of cosmetic surgeon Dr Ashley Granot from the Me Clinic. He had someone present with a persistent lump in their neck, after having had cosmetic surgery overseas.
“Antibiotics made it smaller, but subsequent surgery revealed a drain tube in the neck had not been taken out,” he says.
Why would you risk something like this happening for vanity’s sake? I don’t understand it, but I guess I’m not a 60-something woman struggling to get a job and concerned about looking younger.
Someone I know was in this position and had a bit of Botox, which did erase some of the lines on her face. It made her more confident and soon after she got a new position.
But I think people need to understand what they are doing to themselves when they start messing with their face. According to a study of more than 7700 people published by pharmaceutical company Allergan, (which makes products for “wrinkle relaxation, facial wrinkle, fold and lip re-volumising, and breast augmentation”), 86 per cent of anti-wrinkle injection users claimed that they were very careful about what was injected into their face.
But 71 per cent didn’t know the name/brand of their last anti-wrinkle injection treatment.
Seriously – you’re happy to inject your face but you don’t know what you’re putting into it?
Nevertheless, there is a vast difference between having a few needles in your face and going under the knife. For me, surgery is always a last resort, no matter what the situation.
But there’s always another side to the story. Cosmetic surgeon Dr Joseph Ajaka claims people feel more confident after surgery, citing a patient who had liposuction as an example. Ajaka claims it changed his life.
Maybe. But I know someone who had liposuction who couldn’t sit down for six weeks. Ajaka claims the procedure has come a long way and that the recovery time is now shorter.
As to how you should explain a sudden ”freshening”’ of your features after you’ve had work, Ajaka says many people take a week off when they have surgery and tell their colleagues they just look relaxed after a holiday. I’m not sure how you’d explain away a new nose.
He says “there’s still stigma attached to cosmetic surgery” and that “people are not forward about it at work because they feel they will be judged” .
But let's face it, it's a pretty awkward situation when someone comes back to the office after, say, a nose job. What do you say to them? "Love the new nose! I see you've gone for the Miranda Kerr - good choice. Hayley from accounts got the Nicole Kidman and it looks so 1998."
Worse, what happens when someone goes back to work after a boob job? Pretend the new norks never happened? It's a sexual harassment case waiting to happen.
Anyway, I asked Ajaka whether he ever says no to a potential patient and he says he does. For instance if someone really doesn’t need it, if there’s nothing he can do to help the patient or if their expectations are too high. He also says he refuses to operate if it’s not going to make the person happy “because the end goal is happiness”.
“I said no to a lady whose husband was having an affair. There’s no point [having surgery] because it can’t solve the problem.”
Each to their own, I guess, but whenever I look at someone who has had surgery I never think they look younger and I lament the fact we live in a society where looks are everything.
At least working for myself, if I ever do decide to have surgery, the only explaining I’ll have to do about my appearance when I come back to work will be to my cats.