The Truth About Face-Lifts
Let’s be honest: the ageing process is far kinder on men than on women. As our creases and grey hairs begin to dominate, we become silver foxes. Hardly seems fair, does it?
Yet we males, despite having societal approval of ageing on our side, still manage to screw it up. Both mentally and physically, if we don’t take care then it can be horribly easy to wake up one day to find we’ve become a paunchy Britpop veteran with contour lines as deep as paddling pools across our faces.
But is surgery the answer? Face-lifts for men can’t cure the mental blocks that stop us staying engaged with the modern world. But, according to Dr Foued Hamza, a leading specialist on male face-lift surgery from his clinic on Harley Street, London, it can make an impressive difference to how the world looks at us. He says, “Around 40 is a great time to think about having a face-lift.”
Although celebrities (except Simon Cowell) are loath to admit to having had a face-lift, the youthful appearances of George Clooney, John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone have set Hollywood reporters into a farrago of rumour-sharing. Yet for any man thinking that cosmetic treatment is a fast-track to a dotage of inner peace, it may be sage to listen to Dr David B Sarwer, the associate dean of research at the College Of Public Health at Temple University in the US, who has been researching the psychological impact of cosmetic surgery for 20 years.
“A number of studies have suggested that the psychiatric diagnosis of body dysmorphia is seen more frequently in candidates for cosmetic surgery,” says Sarwer. “Surveys have found that between five and 15 percent of candidates have the disorder, which is characterised by an intense dissatisfaction and preoccupation with a defect in appearance. By contrast, the disorder occurs in approximately one percent of the general population.”
So what kind of man is suited to a face-lift? Sarwer believes that there are three major factors. “One, they have specific concerns about their face that the surgeon can see. Two, they are motivated to have the surgery for themselves, not because they are pressured by a partner. Three, they have realistic expectations about the impact of the change in their appearance on their lives. They will likely feel better about their appearance, but a face-lift is unlikely to secure that big promotion or help save a failing relationship.”
For some surgeons, expectations among their male patients appear to be evolving away from a will to play Dorian Gray with their appearance. “The men I consult rarely express a desire to look younger. They wish to look good for their age,” explains Dr Jesper Sorensen, consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at London’s Sorensen Clinic.
“A face-lift can effectively restore more youthful contours of the face and neck, redefine the jawline and correct loose skin. Periorbital rejuvenation [eyelid surgery] is often part of the procedure too. My team also provides treatments and advice following surgery to optimise and maintain results.”
But there is one psychological factor among men that can sour the experience: “Men are less patient,” admits Hamza. “They want a quick fix whereas women are happy for the procedures to take place over a much longer period of time. For men who want fast results, rather than having a full face-lift, I advise combining liposuction with noninvasive treatments such as Botox and fillers. The patients could have liposuction to remove focal deposits of fat in the face, usually in the area between the chin and neck. This type of procedure can be performed with a local anaesthetic and there are no cuts or scarring.”
“Instant result” is a tad misleading, though. This kind of surgery has a recovery period of just a day or two, but the final results won’t be noticeable until four to six months later. Plus, surgeons in Hamza’s field always insist that patients quit smoking and curtail alcohol consumption for a month before the face-lift.
“If patients ignore this then the bruising and bleeding can be worse and the recovery time takes longer,” says Hamza. “If the patient has a healthy lifestyle before the surgery and if they keep it up afterwards then the final effect can last for up to five years.”
Opting for the full monty is a more serious affair, with a two-hour operation under general anaesthesia being the norm. It takes a year for the full effects to manifest, which will stay with you for a decade.
“For the full face-lift I will make unnoticeable incisions in front of and behind the ear, pull back and tighten the skin and remove excess skin where required,” says Hamza. “I’ll also deal with any drooping around the chin and the jawline. If too much skin is removed, this is when it is obvious that the patient has undergone a procedure. During the fortnight recovery the patient will need to wear special garments, ensure they get lots of rest and avoid the sun.”
Not a matter to be treated as an impulse decision, then, something surgeons on Harley Street tend to ensure by having at least two meetings before any surgery and insisting on follow-up appointments for up to a year afterwards. The demands on time lie concomitant with demands on the wallet. Male face-lifts range from between $10000 and $15000, up to $26000.
Peter (not his real name), a partner in the London office of a major consulting firm, had cosmetic surgery in 2015 at the age of 43. Three years on, he’s still in two minds about the impact it’s had on his life.
“I can’t deny that I felt better afterwards,” he told GQ. “It cost the best part of $14000 and pretty much straight away I got comments at work and among my friends that I was looking particularly fresh and energised. Only my wife and one close friend knew that I’d gone under the knife. But it’s not a process to enter into lightly. I’d advise taking a long, good look in the mirror before you go to a surgeon. It might be that the solution to not looking how you want lies away from the operating table.”