I had a facelift. A full facelift. A big old facelift. This lift was the take your face off and place it on a table, pull your skin behind your ears, frankenstein bolts in the head kind of facelift. I was 8 hours in surgery and I had this lift fourteen years ago at the age of forty-five.
I should be clear about the full disclosure aspect of this. This is only “bloggie full disclosure”. Pretty much anyone who knows me, knows that I had this procedure. And not just because I can’t keep anything to myself. They know it because I wanted them to know it. I always thought it was important that women should know that I had a lift and I’ll tell you why.
After my facelift settled (yes, it has to settle, just like the poured cement sidewalk), women would tell me how great I looked and how young I looked. Often this statement, although coming from a sincerely generous place, was accompanied by a look of wistful longing. I knew they were thinking, “I am the same age as her. Why does she not have jowls or bags under her eyes, and where the hell did she get that taut chin?” So I felt it was incumbent upon me to tell them that I look this way because I have had a facelift. If I had not had said facelift, I would resemble a very cute and well-meaning Shar-Pei pup. It was important to me that these woman knew that I was not better or younger looking, nor had I sprung from a superior gene pool. I had simply gone under the knife. And if you had seen me the weeks following the lift you would have assumed I had gone under a full set of Ginsu knives, such was my train wreck of a face.
I felt very strongly about being honest about my lift and have never been anything but. My thinking was that women, especially middle-aged women are already beating themselves up without worrying that someone of the same age looks better than they do ... or at least tighter. I know many women who have had lifts and they have sworn me to secrecy and I will keep their secret. I am not even judging them for wanting people to simply think they look better than other women our age. That is part of what makes their facelift resonate with them and that’s their beeswax. For me, full disclosure is more freeing. Any women who envies a facelift on face value and is given the truth can say, “Hey, I can do that too”. Or, “Not worth it to me, I’ll be happy with the way I look”.
I know that by now in the story, many of you are swiftly typing your responses, such is the emotions that facelifts bring about. And I totally see and appreciate all angles on this. I respect all points of view on this one because it is such an intimate choice. But I will tell you my personal take on the concept of facelifts. I subscribe to the SOMEBODY STOP ME rule of facelift. The thing is, you can do your nips, your tucks, or a full facelift, but have the words of The Mask, ringing in your ears. When you think of doing a second, third or forth, just call up your Somebody Stop Me! mantra.
My decision was to do it, and then age naturally. At least that is what I have stuck to for fourteen years and what I intend. I have aged of course, since then. And sagged a bit since then. But I am done. I am done because two things have happened in that fourteen years. I have started to look in the mirror and like what I see, and I have come to realize how very lucky I was to come out healthy and unscathed from elective surgery. I have appreciated that I gave myself the gift of elective surgery, but since then, I have seen too much necessary life saving surgery and I have grown to really appreciate how very lucky I was, and still am.
Sticking to the full disclosure theme, I will tell you my reasons for doing my facelift and how it left me feeling at the time and also 14 years later. I am very tiny-boned with a very tiny face and features. I had too much skin for my face. Even as a sleep deprived toddler, I sported big bags under my eyes in the morning. Family trait on my Mom’s side. After the boy was born and I had been big little big big big and little, my extra skin was aging me beyond my years. It was not helping me work-wise or esteem-wise. I interviewed many plastic surgeons, but only one asked me what I wanted to look like after the surgery. I did not even have to think about it. I wanted to look like a well-rested sparkling forty-five year old, which was my age at the time. And bless his skilled hands, that is exactly what I came out looking like. I don’t think I looked particularly younger but I don’t mind saying that I looked great. At our last appointment before my surgery, the surgeon did try to sway me towards cheek implants and botox as I am sadly lacking in both cheek and lips areas. But I said no. I said I wanted to look like a slightly taut but relaxed Deb. I felt that Mother Nature in her enthusiasm to give me all she could, went a tad overboard. Clearly that extra face skin was meant for a woman destined to reach five foot nine, not five foot nothing.
But in his defense, my surgeon did not want to pull my cheek skin back, as we so often see in Hollywood. He felt it was too pully, and that it made the mouth have that wide unnatural horizontal slash. So he asked instead if he could just inject a bit of fat from my butt into my face. So we did that, forever giving me rights to the title of Assface. And I wear it proudly. No butts about it. You KNOW I had to go there.
As to the people in my life, my husband said he adored me the way I was, but knew I was hell bent so he supported me. My friends were divided on the idea and I am sure talked voraciously behind my back. As you may know I am a huge supporter of the “behind the back”. Gets the issue out, saves feelings. One friend said to me, “I have never seen one facelift that looked good.” My response was, “But you have seen hundreds of facelifts you did not know were facelifts”. She saw my point. And I did it. And it was, outside of husband and boy, the best thing I have ever done. Ever. After the lift settled, I looked like me! I looked like the me I knew was there. I looked like the me I had strained to see in the mirror. And so now, I am an older version of Deb, but not 1954 Deb. I am an older version of Facelift Deb and I couldn’t be happier. I reckon that 1954 Deb gave Future Deb this gift.
And before I leave you, dear reader, and in the spirit of the Full Disclosure (shout out to Annette who got the ball rolling), I also had a breast job in 1980. Anyone who has seen photos of me on the blog is saying, “I knew it!!!!!”. But ironically you would be wrong. Truth be told, I had a major breast reduction. Yep. 1980. Grew back they did. Yep. But as I said before, an older and wiser Deb has not only made her peace. She has learned to love her body.
Can a woman say that old loud?
Barbara: Well, I say, yes we MUST say that out loud!! I love my body too. Not in that it looks like my dream body, but in that it is serving me well and I have made my peace.
As for the facelift disclosure: I admire your honesty, Deb. Yes, of course, I knew you’d had one—although we weren’t friends yet when you’d had it done—because that’s the kind of open person you are. Knowing you after the fact, I can fully confirm, it is EXCELLENT work. And the truth is, I used to think I would absolutely certainly get a facelift one day myself. But ironically, over the years, I’ve actually fully lost my appetite for it. Not because of you or your experience, but because of my own. I worry about the pain, about the afterward, about the cost, mostly about not recognizing myself. I want to really get used to this whole “loving myself for who I am/how I look” deal. I want to embrace it. But I am not immune to the lure of a shinier face: instead, I’ve invested much much much money into creams and facials. What’s the diff, I ask you?