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 reassuring 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 searched on the Internet to see the doctor credentials and paid special attention to the before and after photos (results are the purpose of the aesthetic surgery). I went to the library and checked out books on plastic surgery. 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 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 if 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 does-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 my husband and myself. 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.