Plastic surgery face-off

“Welcome to the Great Plastic Surgery Debate — between women who do and women who don’t, and between the pressure to look 25 no matter the cost and our desire to be true to ourselves.” — Jane Ganahl

IMG_0349Timing is everything, isn’t it?  This week I’ve reached the two-month anniversary of the Mohs skin cancer surgery on my right cheek. As I mentioned in my essay on this topic for Michigan Prime, the five-hour procedure included plastic surgery reconstruction techniques to repair the three-inch incision.

Calling it an ordeal would be an understatement, but the pain and numbness are improving now, and the scar is healing … slooowly but surely. And there’s comfort in knowing the cancer was successfully removed.

Yesterday, the September/October issue of Spirituality & Health arrived in my mail, and the cover story caught my eye immediately. Written by veteran journalist and author Jane Ganahl, “Staring Plastic Surgery in the Face” delves beneath the surface (pardon the pun) of this controversial topic. The excellent piece shines a light on the spiritual and psychological aspects of aging — and why so many women go under the knife in order to meet the beauty standards of our youth-obsessed culture. Ganahl approaches the topic even-handedly, admitting she used to “judge” women who paid surgeons to tighten sagging jawlines and erase wrinkles.

Ganahl’s debate got me thinking. After undergoing Mohs surgery to repair a potentially disfiguring skin cancer, I’m not sure, now, if I’d submit myself to a facelift or cosmetic fillers to “fight” aging. For now, I’m grateful to be healing, and hoping to remain skin-cancer free while my new scar slowly blends into the laugh lines on my cheek.

What’s your opinion on this topic? Would you consider cosmetic surgery?

— Collage image by Cindy La Ferle —

11 thoughts on “Plastic surgery face-off

  1. Cindy, I am glad to read that you are healing and that the cancer was completely removed. Cosmetic surgery? I wouldn’t consider it for my face; I’ve been good to my skin and feel whatever comes with age is okay. I also would never take a chance with facial surgery for purely vanity reasons. I feel differently about tucks other places. I shocked my daughter when I told her that I would consider a tummy tuck if I had the money; while I haven’t gained weight and I am in good shape, I am not happy about the muscles that are no longer holding up their end of the bargain. It’s not even about looks because no one else can tell – I wear the same clothes and look the same on the outside. It’s that I don’t look the same to myself, and there seems to be nothing I can do about it. I will never do anything about it because I will never have the money…but I have honestly thought about it.

  2. My sister is facing a Mohs procedure similar to yours, and I’ve advised her to get the best plastic surgeon she can find for the reconstruction. But that is quite different from surgery to (very temporarily) decrease the signs of aging. I don’t have the time, patience or energy for that, myself. Glad you’re healing well!

  3. Sharon and Eulalia — Thanks for your comments. It’s a compelling topic, one that we can’t escape after we hit midlife. Thanks to the S&H piece, I discovered that fashion model Cindy Joseph — who’s a natural beauty of a certain age — has a blog and a cosmetic line that she calls “pro age.” I love her attitude.

  4. I am relieved to hear you are finally healing after your surgery & the cancer was removed Cindy. Two and a half years ago I had a cyst removed from my cheek and for two weeks walked around with a one inch incision sewn with black thread. I eventually stopped worrying about how it looked, knowing things could have been worse.

    While at the plastic surgeons office to have the stitches removed I realized there were 2 doors. One for me…needing the type of surgery I had or similar, and another for the pretty ladies getting botox or lip injections. I have never felt I would have any sort of procedure done anywhere to change the things that my parents gave me and that pretty much cemented it. Fewer wrinkles or smile lines or a smaller nose will not change my age or the way I treat others, and if it makes a difference to others how I myself look…then I guess they won’t be part of my life. I have surprised myself this year by admitting out loud that I am 50. There is nothing wrong with getting older. In fact, I’m realizing it’s an entirely new chapter and I’m beginning to look forward to it…wrinkles and all.

  5. Tina — you’ve got a great attitude! If “women of a certain age” would start to embrace who they are and how they look, our culture would be less youth-obsessed — and the quality of life for all of us would improve. We need to rethink our view of women and aging. If you get a chance, visit Cindy Joseph’s blog, “Boom” — which is listed in my blog roll on the right side of this page.

  6. Cindy, I am so glad you are healing well! And what a great question to ponder. Personally, I wouldn’t choose to have elective surgery to stave off aging. In fact, Tina echoes my sentiments as well – a new chapter! But… I don’t think I’ll quit coloring my hair anytime soon 🙂

  7. My answer is absolutely YES! But, I’m holding off as long as I can and hoping nip/tuck procedures make great advancements in the meantime so it’s much easier, less painful and far less expensive. Easy to say since I haven’t done it yet but a girl can hope.

    I do Botox now but am old enough (and wrinkled enough) not to look plastic or frozen by removing ALL my lines. It’s enough to make me looks less tired (even when I’m not tired at all).

    My bottom line is that I don’t do botox or consider surgery to keep up with our youth obsessed society (which it is). I do it because it makes me feel better about myself.

    Very happy to hear you are on the mend the the numbness is easing up. I hope you’re nearly through the process.

    xo jj

  8. JJ — If a procedure makes you feel better about yourself, and gives you confidence, well,
    that’s the “right reason” and I see nothing wrong with that. I think it’s all about expectations, don’t you?

  9. Cindy, I’m glad you’re healing is progressing. My mom needed facial surgery to remove skin cancer, and the procedure was quite a revelation to me. To be honest, I don’t know if I would use plastic surgery just for cosmetic purposes. I think it’s good if we can accept ourselves as best we can. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments here!

  10. Cindy,
    I’ve been thinking of commenting on this one for a while. First, congrats on recovery from your cancer scare/scar.
    Regarding plastic surgery (for aging or other things), I once heard a young woman say people should accept themselves as they are. That’s all fine and idealistic and good, except feelings don’t listen to the word “should” very well, so I found the comment judgmental. As involved as plastic surgery can be, it’s probably easier than changing one’s own feelings. Or society’s messages. Or whatever forms our self-worth. Meanwhile, I stumbled across this quote in a different blog:
    “Our society and culture do everything in it’s consumeristic power to tell us (especially us women) that we are not enough. We aren’t clean enough, organized enough, pretty enough, thin enough, stylish enough, rich enough, or creative enough. But the Creator of all things truly perfect is whispering daily, You ARE Enough. You are loved, beautiful, gifted and treasured right where you are at–beautifully messy life and all.”
    But that quote wouldn’t do much for the sale of under-eye cream, which I really ought to apply right now, lol!

  11. Debbie — a wonderful quote! I’m hoping everyone read the column I wrote for Michigan Prime (about my cancer surgery). It contains another wonderful quote about women feeling as if they are “not enough” (from Dr. Brene Brown). Thanks so much for your comment.

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