Rise of the has she or hasn't she facelift:
Farewell to Botox Why more (and ever younger) women are opting to go back under the knife
22:00 GMT, 10 March 2012
22:01 GMT, 10 March 2012
Has she, or hasn’t she Whatever one thinks of Louise Mensch, bestselling chick-lit author and glamorous Conservative MP, you have to admit her jawline is enviably taut for a woman of 40. Perhaps improbably so. Or is it
Last September, when asked by a journalist whether she had undergone a facelift, her answer was tantalisingly oblique: ‘My God. Um . . . OK . . . I’ve always wondered what I would say the first time somebody asked me this question. And without denying it, I’m going to refuse to answer your question.’
Louise Mensch before (left) and how she looked last September (right) when she was asked by a journalist whether she had undergone a facelift
And so a new cosmetic surgery idol was born, sporting a look so natural you couldn’t tell whether anything had been done at all.
Just five years ago, it seemed as if the facelift was finished. Scared off by celebrities with wind-tunnel faces, women were flocking to have the new ‘liquid lifts’.
These injections of facial fillers – usually hyaluronic acid, a gel-like substance that occurs naturally in the skin and helps it retain moisture – plump cheeks and hoick up sagging jowls.
This treatment was combined with Botox, which interferes with nerve transmission, paralysing the muscles to lift drooping brows.
Likewise, innovations in skin-tightening treatments were claimed to be able to achieve facelift-like effects even on turkey necks. These procedures were meant to offer a more natural look.
Except many didn’t; leaving women with expressionless foreheads and ‘pillow’ faces.
No surprise then, that the facelift is back – and the women choosing to go under the knife are getting younger.
News presenter Kay Burley, 51, revealed that she had treated herself to a 10,000 facelift for her 50th birthday.
Actress Helen Mirren, 65, who was rumoured to have had a face and necklift in 2009, said women should have one if it made them feel happy.
New figures released by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons show that demand for surgical facelifts performed by the organisation’s members rose by 4.7 per cent to 4,700 in 2011.
Surgeons say this figure is just the tip of the iceberg and that women are having facelifts at a younger age than ever before.
In July 2008, Kerry Parsons (left) underwent a short-scar facelift. She says of the results (right): 'I am still ageing but the facelift has lasted brilliantly… I look so much better than I did in my 20s and 30s'
One such patient is Kerry Parsons, 44, an accounts administrator who lives in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, with husband Russell, 44, a contracts manager, and their 12-year-old son. She underwent a facelift aged 40.
‘I’ve always been slim but even when I weighed less than 8st, I had a fat face with jowls and a double chin,’ says Kerry.
‘I was so self-conscious. If another car pulled alongside me while I was driving, I’d instinctively raise my hand to cover my jawline. I never considered fillers or Botox as a puffy pillow face didn’t look youthful to me.
'My husband knew how I felt and he suggested I have a facelift for my 40th birthday present.’
In July 2008, she underwent a short-scar facelift (SSFL) – the same type Louise is suspected to have had – with Jag Chana, cosmetic surgeon at Spire Bushey Hospital in Hertfordshire.
Says Kerry: ‘Mr Chana told me I was a bit young but otherwise a perfect candidate. He also suggested I had liposuction on fatty areas and an eyelift.
'My friends and family told me it was bound to go wrong but I trusted Mr Chana completely.
‘When I woke up from the operation, I was in lot of pain and so swollen I looked like a monster. My sister-in-law came to visit and was so horrified she felt sick.
‘After a week, the swelling settled down, I could see my new face and I was thrilled.
'Mr Chana told me I had so much loose skin that when he pulled it back during surgery, it covered my ears. It took two weeks to feel fully recovered. I went to school to pick up my son and friends told me I looked about 16.
‘I am still ageing but the facelift has lasted brilliantly, my scars are hidden behind my ears, and even six years on, I look so much better than I did in my 20s and 30s.’
So what has put the original nip and tuck operation back in demand
According to Mr Chana: ‘It’s Generation X – women who are as young as 45 are increasingly opting for surgery.’
Mr Chana, a member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, has seen demand rise by 225 per cent in two years and the facelift is now one of the top three procedures offered at Spire Bushey Hospital.
He believes the increase in non- surgical treatments such as Botox has made it easier for women to contemplate a facelift in their 40s or 50s.
He says: ‘This generation was the first to discover injectables. They used them during their 30s and early 40s, but they got fed up with going back for top-ups and were increasingly worried about looking artificial.
‘They also discovered the limits of what they could do. No injections can deal with jowls and a sagging neck. Facelifts offer a more permanent solution and, nowadays, a natural look.’
Helen Mirren, 65, was rumoured to have had a face and necklift in 2009
Mr Chana says his patients are inspired by the youthful looks of celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, 44, and Michelle Pfeiffer, 53 – both of whom, it is often whispered, have opted for the ‘little, subtle and often’ approach to surgery.
He continues: ‘Surgical techniques have become significantly more refined in the past decade and the surgery is tailored to the individual while retaining a very natural result.’
The SSFL, says Mr Chana, is the most popular procedure for patients under 45.
He adds: ‘It lifts the mid-face and the only visible sign it leaves is a 0.4in scar tucked into the crease where the ear joins the cheek. The rest of the incisions are hidden in the hairline and the back of the ear.’
Cosmetic surgeon Angelica Kavouni says: ‘The SSFL costs about 6,000 and is the perfect choice for those seeking to turn back the clock. It redefines the lower face, jawline and upper neck.’
She says the natural look of new types of facelift has boosted their popularity.
‘Old-fashioned facelift procedures involved pulling the skin backwards, which flattened the features and left people looking tighter but no younger,’ she says.
‘The SSFL sees the skin pulled upwards and re-draped over the bony structures of the face. Fat pads that have dropped with ageing are restored to their proper place.
‘The results might not last as long – up to ten years – but patients are thrilled that they look refreshed. Patients can go back to work after two weeks with nobody knowing what they have had done.’
Rajiv Grover, the plastic surgeon who performed Kay Burley’s facelift, agrees demand for the procedure is mainly from people in their late 40s.
He says: ‘The growing acceptance of Botox and fillers in this generation has made the step-up to cosmetic surgery less scary.’
Grover’s most popular facelift is the more drastic Superficial Muscolo Aponeurotic System (SMAS) lift.
‘This lifts the muscle under the face to restore volume to the cheek area,’ he says.
‘I ask patients to bring in old pictures of themselves so I can recreate the face of their youth.
'All my facelifts are bespoke, as the direction in which the muscles are pulled depends on looking at the individual. Patients say this creates a more youthful look and a prettier one.’
Consultant plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon Charles Nduka agrees that celebrity examples of good facelifts are boosting demand. He believes that the recession is actually increasing the number of women seeking surgery.
‘People need a boost in such depressing times, and interest rates are so poor that those with savings are making the decision that money in the bank is earning nothing so they might as well splurge on themselves.’
Mini-facelifts, such as the one-stitch facelift, also attract younger women. Paul Levick, consultant plastic surgeon at The Hospital Group, performs this 30-minute procedure under local anaesthetic.
It involves a semi-circle of skin being removed at the hairline at the top of the ear, the skin and tissues over the cheeks are pulled up as the wound is stitched together. Scars are hidden in the hairline.
At less than 2,000, it’s also more affordable. Levick says: ‘It’s suitable for those who want to feel rejuvenated without having to undergo major surgery.’
Results, however, may last just a year.
For Kerry, her decision to have surgery is one she feels grateful for every time she looks in the mirror: ‘No one can tell I’ve had a facelift. I’d definitely do it again if I needed to.’
My jowls have gone and now I look refreshed
Connie Adams before (left) and after (right) she had the short-scar facelift
Accountant Connie Adams, 50, who is single and lives in Somerset, says: ‘When I say I had a facelift at 45, people think that’s very young but actually it was the perfect age as I still have good elasticity in my skin.
‘I first thought of a facelift in my early 40s. I didn’t smoke or sunbathe, and while the rest of my face was OK, my jowls, which had developed since my late 30s, started to bother me.
‘I saw surgeon Angelica Kavouni in August 2007 and she told me that a short-scar facelift would be the best way to lift my lower face.
'I had the operation in November. I went into hospital on a Tuesday and left on Thursday, wearing a headscarf and dark glasses. I had no pain but I was pretty swollen and my skin felt stretched.
‘At first I wondered what the hell I’d done but soon saw I had exactly the result I wanted. I looked refreshed, not like a different person, and my jowls were gone.
'By the following Friday I was well enough to go out for drinks.
‘I went back to work after two weeks and people all commented on how rested I looked,
'They asked where I’d been on holiday.’