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Will You Look Better After Plastic Surgery?

Patients appear younger, but not necessarily better looking, small study finds

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Alan Mozes

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Facial plastic surgery may turn back the hands of time, but new research suggests it may not, alas, boost attractiveness.

For this small study, 50 strangers were asked to guess the age and subjectively rank the attractiveness of 49 patients after viewing photos of them either before or after facial plastic surgery.

The bottom-line: Surgical intervention shaved a few years off perceived age but did almost nothing to boost patients' overall attractiveness.

What's at issue is patients' expectations, said study lead author Dr. Joshua Zimm, an attending surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Institute of North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York City.

"When we're doing this kind of surgery I'm telling patients that they'll look fresher, more energetic and less tired, and we have some data in the literature that indicates you will look younger, as we found," Zimm said. "But clearly I cannot say that they will look more attractive."

He emphasized, however, that the findings represent the work of just one surgeon and that the study design had limitations. "This is not the final word on the subject," Zimm said.

"But certainly I think you can take away from this that if you're looking to have aesthetic facial surgery to look younger, we've shown that you will," he said. "Beyond that ... it is not clear that everyone will definitely look more attractive."

Zimm and his colleagues discussed their findings in the Aug. 1 online edition of the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

The team focused on clients at a Toronto private-practice facility who had one or more of the following procedures between 2006 and 2010: face lift, neck lift, upper or lower eyelid lift, and brow-lift. The patients ranged from 42 to 73 years old.

Facial photos were taken before surgery and over a six-month follow-up period post-surgery. Makeup and jewelry were banned from the photo sessions, as were additional cosmetic procedures (such as Botox injections or laser skin resurfacing) between the before-and-after photo sessions.

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