And it doesn’t necessarily make you more attractive, say US and Canadian doctors who carried out a unique study.
The more work that is done, the younger the look but overall, the number of years ‘saved’ by having a full facelift or other procedures such as eyelid surgery is around three
Dr Joshua Zimm, of the Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Institute of North Shore-LIJ Health System, New York, who led the latest study, said plastic surgeons often don’t tell prospective patients they will look younger or more attractive because of the lack of objective research. Patients will more likely be told they look less tired and more refreshed.
The explosion in facial surgery, he said, has been driven by expectations that patients will look younger, better and even have a competitive edge in the rat race at work.
“Our data demonstrate that ageing face surgery is effective in reducing the apparent age of patients but doesn’t consistently improve a patient’s attractiveness,” he said.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, is the first to investigate ratings of attractiveness post-surgery as well as enhanced youthfulness.
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The study involved an assessment by 50 independent raters who examined preoperative and postoperative photographs of 49 patients, including 12 men, who underwent plastic surgery.
The patients had surgery between July 2006 and July 2010 at a private practice in Toronto, Canada, run by surgeon Peter Adamson, who took part in the study.
Patients in the study ranged in age from 42 to 73 years at the time of surgery with an average age of 57 years.
On average, the raters estimated their patients’ ages to be about 2.1 years younger than their chronological age before surgery and 5.2 years younger than their chronological age after surgery.
The average overall years saved (true age minus guessed age) following surgery was 3.1 years, with more years saved as more procedures were carried out.
To minimise bias by the raters, none was shown before and after pictures of the same patient.
Raters were also asked to rate the patient’s attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the most unattractive and 10 being the most attractive.
There was a small, but statistically insignificant increase in attractiveness scores in post-op photographs.
Three-quarters of patients scored within the range 4-7, and the scores did not change with surgery even after allowing for patient age and procedure.
Dr Zimm said the study found a person’s perceived age conferred a certain level of attractiveness – with younger people generally gauged as being more attractive.
‘From this study, it seems the attractiveness level will remain the same, regardless of age’ he said.
‘The age reduction is more substantial when the number of surgical procedures is increased, but this did not significantly improve overall attractiveness’ he added.
Rajiv Grover, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons who practises at the King Edward VII Hospital in London, said the attractiveness ratings fell short using strict statistical criteria, but market research techniques would probably have found a substantial change.
He said most UK plastic surgeons would believe the study underestimated the amount of benefit gained by many patients.
He said ‘The key here is good selection. I turn away 40 to 45 per cent of potential patients because I tell them honestly I don’t think they’re going to get the results they’re after and they’ll be wasting their money.
‘If you select patients well, and they’re in the hands of a competent, experienced surgeon I would expect them to look seven, eight, even nine years younger afterwards’ he added.