Does anyone need a facelift before 40 As surgeons reveal
a worrying rise in 30-somethings demanding nip-and-tucks to ward off ageing we look at the results
01:10 GMT, 9 April 2012
Few of us are ever happy with the way we look in our passport photograph. Instead, we simply hide the offending document in a little-used drawer and refuse to show it to anyone except customs officers.
Not so for 35-year-old Sian Morris. For when the mother-of-one noticed she had loose skin around her chin in her photo, she had a rather more extreme reaction: she booked a facelift.
Sian, from Wrexham, North Wales, explains: ‘I felt I looked old before my time. I really hated my jowls. I took one look at that passport picture and thought: “That can’t be me!” My mind was made up — I needed surgery.’
Sian Morris, now 39, underwent a short-scar facelift : 'My face was ageing faster than it should'
Cara ONions had a Vaser facelift two years ago at the age of 39.: 'The effects are so subtle'
Rachel Evans, now 41, had a mini-facelift two years ago: 'You can't exercise away wrinkles'
Sian Morris, Cara O'Nions nd Rachel Evans demonstrate the results of their facelifts, which they all had under the age of 40
It may be shocking, but she’s far from alone. Increasing numbers of women under 40 are now being discreetly nipped and tucked in a scaled-down version of the full facelift — even though, in many cases, there’s hardly enough loose flesh to lift away. Leading Harley Street cosmetic surgeon Professor Laurence Kirwan recently reported that he’s seen an astonishing 250 per cent increase in short-scar facelifts (SSFLs) — the type most popular with 35 to 40-year-olds — in two years.
It’s the facelift Tory MP Louise Mensch, 40, is believed to have had. Other names rumoured to have undergone discreet ‘lifts’ in their late 30s or 40s include Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Cameron Diaz, though they deny this. Traditionally, women in their 30s have opted for non-surgical means of looking younger, such as Botox and fillers. But many are now turning to the knife, as they don’t want to develop a ‘pillow face’ — the too-plumped-up look sported by celebrities such as Carla Bruni and Priscilla Presley.
The SSFL, which involves the skin being pulled upwards and re-draped over the bony structure of the face, avoids this problem. Fat pads, which have dropped with ageing, are then restored to their ‘proper place’. None of this comes cheap. A SSFL with Professor Kirwan costs in the region of 10,000, but he says the scarring is minimal and the results will last up to ten years. ‘This is a treatment for young women wanting to cut off the effects of ageing at the pass,’ he says. ‘They don’t want to wait until they look older. They strike in advance, and this is the perfect choice for those seeking to turn back the clock.’
Eternal youth Kylie Minogue, Cameron
Diaz, Madonna and Louise Mensch are all rumoured to have undergone discreet 'lifts' in their late 30s or 40s
Certainly Sian, 39, who lives with her partner and 15-year-old daughter, Tea, is thrilled with the results of her SSFL. ‘I
was quite happy with my figure, but for some reason my face was ageing
much faster than it should,’ she says. ‘I’m a born worrier, and I think
that shows in my face. I had a
friend who’s older than me who’d had a short-scar facelift at Linia
Cosmetic Surgery. She looked amazing, and told me the pain was minimal
and the effects very natural and long-lasting.
‘It’s very similar to a full facelift, but the scars are far less visible.
Some of my friends were quite shocked and said I was far too young, but
my mind was made up and my partner was very supportive. The operation was far less painful than I expected. I had a local anaesthetic and I was chatting away throughout. The
surgeon cut the skin in front of my ears, then pulled it up from the
jawline and clamped and sewed the skin and muscle in front of my ears
and behind them.
UNDER THE KNIFE
Women had 90 per cent of cosmetic procedures in Britain in 2011, with breast augmentation proving the most popular
'It only took an hour.
I had a little swelling and bruising, but I was back at work within a
week. I changed my hair at the same time from long and straight to a
short bob, and when I went back to work everyone commented on how good I
looked. I remember one person saying: “That haircut makes you look so much younger.” I just smiled to myself.’
Professor Kirwan claims many women are opting for surgery at a younger age because they’ve started with less invasive options in their 20s and early 30s, such as Botox and fillers, and are more open to the idea of surgery. Not all doctors, however, are as positive. Consultant plastic surgeon Nick Percival, of Cosmetic Surgery Partners in London, says: ‘In my view, 99 out of 100 ladies aged under 40 seeking surgical facelifts should be told to go away.
‘When you set the benefits against what can go wrong in terms of the effects of anaesthetic and deep scarring, it is simply not worthwhile. To operate on someone, I have to convince myself that I will really be able to make a difference. Under the age of 40, there is, in general, insufficient “jowling” under the chin for a surgical facelift to be worthwhile. Women think that a facelift will prevent or refine ageing skin or creases — but it won’t. I hesitate to use the word “treadmill”, but you will almost certainly need another one in ten or 15 years.
‘And there is a real danger of creating the “wind tunnel” effect if skin is stretched too tight. It is a matter of where you start and where you finish. Everyone wants to look as young as they can, but do you want to erase every tiny line before you are 40 Does it matter so much I worry that so many ladies are wasting their money.’
Sian, however, says her facelift has made all the difference to her life. ‘I
think the facelift has taken at least seven years off me. I rushed out
and bought lots of new clothes to celebrate, and I feel rejuvenated. If
the procedures are available and you can afford it, why not’
Striking in advance: Short-scar facelifts are most popular with 35 to 40-year-olds
Also growing in popularity for younger women is the ‘mini-facelift’. At 2,000, this costs much less than a SSFL and the results can last just one year. Professor Kirwan performs this 30‑minute procedure under local anaesthetic. He says: ‘It involves a semi-circle of skin being removed at the hairline at the top of the ear, before the skin and tissues over the cheeks are pulled up as the wound is stitched together and the scars hidden in the hairline.’
Rachel Evans, now 41, had a mini-facelift two years ago. ‘My partner Mike and my family said: “You must be mad! At your age” ’ she says. ‘I know I was really young, but I am an exercise fiend and had worked so hard to achieve a toned, size 8 body, yet I felt I had the face of a much older woman. You can’t exercise away sagging skin and wrinkles. When I looked in the mirror, I saw the face of a tired old mum. I made a pledge to myself that before I hit 40, I was going to give myself the face I felt I deserved.
‘I had a mini-facelift on my jawline. I also had a brow lift and an eye lift, using injections. All in all, it cost 2,000. Over the past ten years I must have spent around 10,000 on different treatments, including Botox and fillers. I’m quite open about it all. If someone tells me I look fantastic for my age, I tell them why.’
Mother-of-two Cara O’nions, from Ascot, Berkshire, had a Vaser facelift with Jag Chana at the Spire Clinic, in Hertfordshire, two years ago at the age of 39. She did so because the puffiness around her jaw and chin area that developed when she was pregnant with her son William failed to disappear after the birth. This 3,200, hour-long procedure involves cannulas (small tubes) being put into the side of the face by the ears. The fat is loosened and sucked out — Cara had the equivalent of a full carton of double cream taken out of her jawline — and then the skin is tightened, pulled up and stitched.
‘I had some bruising, swelling and soreness, but it all calmed down very quickly,’ says Cara. ‘I had stitches in my chin and in front of my ears but the scarring is minimal. I was back at work within a week and colleagues said to me: “You look really well. Have you lost weight” The effects are so subtle that it’s hard to tell I have had anything done. I feel as if I have “my face” back now and I can’t stop smiling when I look in the mirror.’
Our obsession with youth culture is to blame for this shift, according to psychologist Professor Cary Cooper, of Lancaster University. ‘I am astonished that women are now having facelifts in their 30s, but that is the way that society is heading,’ he says. ‘If you ask these women why they have had a facelift, they will generally say: “To make me feel better.” But if you really unpack their psychological motives, you will find the real reason is much more interesting.They might be worried they will lose their husbands or they feel insecure in the workplace. They may feel too old and fear they won’t be taken seriously, or that they will be perceived as “old” and so less effective.
‘Or they may be having surgery to cover up something they really do not like about themselves inside. Things like low self-esteem or complexes left over from childhood. Often you take action about your exterior appearance to “heal” something that is actually inside.’
Sadly, until our obsession with youth ends, many otherwise vibrant, attractive 30-somethings will continue to feel only the surgeon’s knife is the way to true happiness.
Some names have been changed.