I got a lower face and neck lift in November and have been conflicted about going public with it.
I always try to be as honest and open as I can on here. I love the AA saying, “we are only as sick as our secrets.” That has always proved true to me. Plus I believe that we all have the same feelings, doubts, and pains (barring sociopaths, narcissists, psychopaths, bad brain, etc.), and that we bridge gaps and help each other heal by discussing our own thoughts and feelings about our experiences. Those experiences can vary wildly from person to person, but the reactions and feelings really don’t. Writing has shown me that I am not unique and anything that I have felt has been felt by many others.
The problem with being open online is that you make yourself vulnerable to people with bad intent. When you have haters, and I have a couple of doozies (maybe all of us do?), they will distort and weaponize any bit of information gleaned from social media or gossip. I’m risking abuse by talking about a choice that not everyone might understand or agree upon. But I don’t want to live my life in fear of what someone with negativity in their heart thinks. I learned long ago that people will make up all kinds of crazy shit no matter how nice you try to be, so we all might as well just live our lives and ignore the rest.
One of the reasons I feel semi-obligated to talk about this at all, is that no one ever tells us about their own cosmetic surgery, despite the fact that it’s a booming business. Everyone wants to pretend it’s natural, which then causes the rest of us to compare ourselves unfavorably to celebrities who tell us it’s all diet, exercise and facials. We feel flawed or less then, and it’s not fair. Although it is understandable–Pamela Anderson talks about it in her Netflix doc, how she didn’t know that she was supposed to keep her implants a secret and it became the only thing anyone ever wanted to ask her about.
I want to make it clear that for me, it’s not about wanting to look young, which is the usual accusation from people opposed. There is nothing in this world that can replicate the soft collagen of youth and I like being my age. But I want to feel good in my skin and I haven’t felt that for the last couple of years. My face has been getting longer with time, and I didn’t like the droop. And my neck wasn’t making me happy either, I couldn’t wear turtlenecks (which I love) anymore because my neck looked unattractive at the top of the sweater. At a certain point it stops being about enhancing with clothes and makeup and becomes more about disguising and distracting. I don’t enjoy that struggle.
Also, for realz, I don’t know why anyone would be surprised. I’ve never planned on aging gracefully and no one close to me expects any different. When I announced my plan to my siblings, my sister said she was going to tell on me to mom. Which she did, and my mother, who is all about natural and would never dye her hair or do anything to her face, didn’t bat an eye. She knew this was coming.
I had been researching surgery for a few years because I had it in my mind that 60 would be the year, and I turned 60 in October. I still can’t believe I’m this old. It was daunting at first: I don’t have any close friends in NYC who have done anything like this, and I didn’t want to travel outside of my home. Many people I know have gone elsewhere for all kinds of surgery because it’s cheaper. But I wanted to recuperate in my house with my animals, and I wanted to make sure that if someone was going to be cutting up my face, they came well recommended and I could get their help if something went wrong..
I went to two consultations; both doctors that were recommended by a friend’s dermatologist. The first one was fantastic, a great guy with great results–he was upbeat, young and confident in his work. But he is also stupid expensive, like more than many yearly salaries expensive. Like I’d be in debt for a decade expensive. Notable is that part of that high cost is that after surgery you’re sent to a hotel with a nurse who watches over you for 48 hours.
The second guy I saw was still expensive but much more reasonable at less than half the first price quote. This is because he uses local anesthetic with a knockout cocktail of valium and some other pills, saving the high cost of an anesthetist. As much as I would prefer to be fully asleep during any operation, I liked the idea of not having to deal with the aftereffects of anesthetic and having to flush it out of my body afterward. His before and after photos were equally as great as the first guy, and I’m a big one for intuition and I liked the energy at his office. So I chose him. I’m still in debt, but it’s a much less terrifying amount.
The reactions I got when I told people of my plans were either excited or horrified. The excited people were my inner circle, women my age who have been considering the same thing. The horrified people were mostly people who have never experienced botox or other injectables, who don’t really know what any of that kind of thing entails, who think of Jocelyn Wildenstein or the show Botched when they think of surgery, or who simply believe in aging naturally. Which, for the record, is great, just not the path I’m taking.
I think where we live plays a part in all of this too. I live in a city where it’s common for women to do things to their face. If I had remained in the woods of Michigan it might be different and look out of place, so reactions from different parts of the country vary as well.
A few days before my surgery I saw a Facebook post from an acquaintance who looks cool, but has never been a person interested in makeup or beauty. She had a close up of her bare face, along with a paragraph about how aging naturally is the more noble way to go. It was pretty judgey, but most social media posts about plastic surgery are judgey. It doesn’t help that Madonna is purposely fucking up her face for attention, but that’s another conversation. I realized after seeing that post that that there would be some serious judgment if I were to talk about it. But what’s the alternative? To lie and pretend that I’m a natural miracle? That falseness feels yucky to me.
Three weeks after my 60th birthday I went in, and the surgery was intense. I let them film it; if you aren’t too squeamish and care to see the inside of my face, it’s here at Madnani Facial Plastics:
Local anesthetic has its pitfalls. I was so drugged up in the beginning that I fell asleep. But it’s a long process and sometime throughout the pills began wearing off and I got panicky. I felt what I thought was sawing, which didn’t help (it was actually pulling and stitching). I knew Sam was in the other room waiting for me and I tried to call his name to get me off the table. But as I became more cognizant I knew that wasn’t going to be feasible so I croaked out instead that I was freaking out. The nurse tossed a couple more pills in my mouth and I was happily out again.
I went in at 6:30 am and it was done by about noon. I was wheeled into a car and Sam took me home. He said he only recognized me by my tattoos and the fact that I was still trying to give orders, despite that I was delirious and couldn’t talk.
The next day I had to go back for a bandage change. My hair was matted down with blood and my ears were plugged up with bloody gauze, but overall it didn’t feel too bad. Thank you, hydrocodone.
I spent the next week propped up in bed high on painkillers. I really love an excuse to watch TV all day while high, but it was a lot. You’re in pain, you can’t lay down fully, you feel like your head is in a box because your ears are covered and you have to keep changing the wraps. It gets boring pretty quickly. My worst day was about five days in because I hadn’t listened closely enough to the direction to take laxatives. Without getting into specifics, I’ll just say that I considered going to the emergency room on that day and will never make that mistake again.
The photo below was maybe three weeks into healing. My face was very numb and my eyes dragged down by the swelling. I couldn’t turn my head to the side or up and down and I couldn’t open my mouth very far. But for the most part it wasn’t too terrible and passed pretty quickly. The bruises took well over a month to heal, I used arnica and took pre and post op vitamins and bromelaine, which helped speed it up, but I did look weird for a while. I went to get my nails done and my Chinese nail lady, who I’ve been seeing for years, asked quietly, “Who did this to you??” I had to have one of the other technicians give me the Chinese word for facelift so I could explain that I did it to myself. To which she huffed indignantly and patted my hand, which may be the most eloquent and best reaction yet.
I don’t have before and afters yet from the doctor, but I tried to take a similar selfie to one I took last summer so there is some way to see what’s been done.
This is last July pre-op.
The one below is a couple of days ago. I took it in the strong light in my bathroom and didn’t filter anything, so it’s not gorgeous. But I wanted to get something clear with a similar nighttime makeup so people can see the difference. I should probably add that I had a fat transfer under my eyes and laser skin resurfacing, so that’s part of what you’re seeing too.
I am very happy with the results. I feel like I’m still myself but I can wear turtlenecks again and I’m not panicky when people pull out their phones to take photos. Which is exactly what I wanted. I have zero regret.
I am happy to answer any questions that anyone wants to ask. A facelift is a frivolous, first world conversation and I understand that I lead a blessed life, that age catches up to us all, and I’m not trying to give this too much time or energy. But I would like to help move this conversation forward in a way that frees us all to be who we want to be, surgery or no surgery. There is too much shame and self-loathing in this world over frivolous bullshit, too much fear wrapped around aging or not looking a certain way. If I can take some of the guesswork out of navigating it, I’m willing to expose myself to that end.