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better," not necessarily younger. Those who acknowledge that they would like to "look younger" are embarrassed. They say, "I guess I'm just vain." I tell them that perhaps vanity is a lesser sin than self-neglect, and that it is totally appropriate for them to look more youthful. They have an intuition that it's alright for them to look more youthful, but they often have difficulty expressing exactly why they feel that way.
I ask these patients, "How many years have you been on this planet?" They look at me strangely and then give me their numerical age. I then ask, "How old do you feel deep inside you?" At this point, most patients brighten up and say, "I don't feel old at all. I feel young!" Most of them feel as if they are in the 20's or 30's.
Chronological age is not their real age, even though the world at large determines age by the number of years a person has lived. People become pigeonholed by thinking, "Here's a woman between 45 and 50. She probably feels and acts this way. So let's not talk to her about a rock concert or string bikinis from Brazil." In short, we have her figured out without every listening to her and really knowing who she is.
In addition to confronting these conventional attitudes, we all have to face the "lie of the mirror." The mirrors shows more sags and wrinkles with each passing year, while the child within us is experiencing a life of self-refection, vigor and youth. The lie of the mirror is persuasive and hard to resist.
It is hard to feel alive and excited when the face in the mirror says you are getting old. Yes, wrinkles are real, but the mirror belies how young you are inside. Often patients and I wonder, "Would we truly become old if it were not for mirrors and the feedback we get from others?" Without them, would we stay young, alive and excited until the moment we die? As the essayist Ashley Montague said, "Die young as late as possible."
Aesthetic surgery can make changes that will confuse the pigeonholers and force the mirror to tell something closer to the truth. It can turn the clock back so that the patient can be more in touch with the child within. Patients have a brighter, fresher look. They become sharper in their dress. There is a spring in their step. Their inner youth is now matched by their outer, more youthful appearance. They look more like themselves than they've looked in many years. And it reminds then that lifelong youthfulness is a real possibility.
Does Your Mirror Lie To You?
We tend to attach too much importance to birthdays. Our society teaches us to judge people's bodies, attitudes, and values by their chronological age. Chronologically "old" means that people should "act their age" and not try to look and act young.
As a cosmetic surgeon, I observe people change from older-looking to younger-looking. I watch men and women who "used to be old" become young. The surgery makes them act, feel and think younger. In short, they are younger!
When men and women come to me for rejuvenation or resortation, they often point to some physical change, such as drooping jowls or wrinkles around the eyes, and they tell me that they "wish to look