PLASTIC SURGERY: A PERSONAL STORY
by Elaine Liechtenstein

A good mirror doesn’t lie. I have a very good mirror over my vanity and I didn’t like what I saw. The mysterious forces of time and gravity seemed to have affected my face. I had pouches under my eyes, my cheeks showed a marked tendency toward jowls and the skin under my chin curved downwards. Also, I suddenly didn’t quite like the shape of my nose. That mirror image clearly signaled plastic surgery.

I broached the subject with my husband. In his opinion I didn’t need surgery. He loved me as I was. That was reassurring even if it fell short of supporting my wish to improve my appearance. No, he didn’t think plastic surgery was too risky. My husband is a vascular surgeon so he knows that antibiotics and advanced methods of anesthesia have reduced the risks to such a degree that they can be disregarded in a reasonably healthy person. He offered to speak to the plastic surgeon at his hospital but I preferred to make my own choice.

I went to the library and checked out books on plastic surgery. I bought a few magazines. I spoke to my friends. And, most important, I called the American Society of Plastic Surgery at (708) 228-9900 on whose roster are surgeons with impeccable, long track records. Then I made an appointment with the board-certified doctor I chose.

When I presented him with the list of "repairs" I wanted to have done to my face, he agreed that I was a good prospect but dissuaded me from "ordering the whole menu," as he put it. Frankly, I liked that because it was obviously in his economic interest to perform as many interventions as were medically safe to do.

We agreed to "do"’ the eyes, a facelift and raise my eyebrows. I hadn’t thought of that but I could see that my lowered eyebrows gave me sort of a frowning look. On the other hand, he insisted that the nose should be left alone. I would see after the surgery that my nose would harmoniously fit my face. If I still would feel unhappy about it, we could talk matters over again.

He gave me a detailed instruction sheet of dos-and-don’ts before surgery. It was written in clear language and easy to follow. On the appointed date I went to his office. I preferred this option to going to the hospital. In addition to the surgeon, there was an anesthesiologist and a nurse on duty. All through the operation I was in a pleasant state calmly floating in and out between being awake and asleep due to the sedation. At no time did I feel any pain. The whole procedure took about three hours. (To me they seemed to pass quickly.) I was a bit wobbly getting down from the operating table and into the car of my best friend, who had come to drive me home.

I would be lying if I were to say that I felt no discomfort the first few days. I did, but I got out of bed the next morning, puttered around the house and cooked food for myself and my husband. Six days after surgery I showed myself in public - we went to a concert. By then all the stitches had been removed - not a big deal, if you ask me - and I felt quite comfortable going about my life as usual. Remarks people made fell into two categories. Some thought I must have lost weight since I looked so much fresher and better. Others hinted broadly that, indeed, the results of skillfully done plastic surgery were quite amazing and asked me where to go for a facelift. Both groups made me happy, and so did my mirror. Image isn’t everything but it does count in life. My husband, too, agreed I had made the right decision.

Ah, yes, you would like to know how old I am. I won’t tell you that but I will tell you who my plastic surgeon is. He is Mordcai Blau. M.D., of White Plains, NY. You can call him at (914) 428-6147.