I watched a woman get a face-lift, and it wasn't very gory at all. Take a look.
- Plastic surgery involves cutting, loosening, and re-sewing parts of the body together.
- There's nothing plastic about it - the term comes from the Greek word plastikos, which means "to mold" or "to form."
- The practice dates back thousands of years, to at least the 6th century B.C.
- I spent a day watching a woman get a face-lift, neck-lift, brow-lift, and eyelid-lift, and was amazed.
TOP VIDEOS FOR YOUBut in the quiet, picket-fenced town of Avon, Connecticut, patient Kim Maher and Dr. Paul Stanislaw recently let me enter their surgery room and see how plastic surgery happens up close. I was surprised by how low-tech and artful the procedure was, and fascinated by how resilient and tough human faces can be below the skin.
AdvertisementI also learned first-hand that performing or undergoing a face-lift is an all-day slog, with hours of meticulous injecting, snipping, and stitching. The following photos give you a brief glance behind the scenes. But a few warnings are in order first. Please don't attempt any DIY plastic surgery - the images below show the work of a board-certified professional with 20 years of experience. If you are considering such a procedure, talk to your doctor. And for those who get squeamish about medical matters, beware: The surgery isn't terribly gory, but there is a bit of blood involved.
When planning a surgery with a patient, Stanislaw often asks them to bring in old photos of themselves so he can get a sense for what their face shape looked like in the past. This is Maher when she was in high school.
As people age, their skin loses elasticity, stretches out, and becomes less supple.
Maher lost 30 pounds recently, and she said she now believes her face defies her age. "I look like I'm going to be turning 60, and not 53," she said.
So Maher went to Stanislaw to get a face-lift, neck-lift, brow-lift, and upper-eyelid-lift.
Stanislaw gifted this surgery to Maher for free. He said he does this occasionally for patients who may not be able to afford the full price out of pocket.
In the surgery room, Stanislaw keeps an array of mug shot-style photos of his patient on the wall in case he needs to reference their face shape during the process.
Before I stepped inside the operating room, Stanislaw warned that anything draped in blue was a sterile field. I had to keep my hands off those parts of the room.
Maher was on a reclining chair that looked a lot like the one at a dentist's office. Once she was situated, Stanislaw began injecting local anesthetic all over her face.
"Man in the Mirror" played on the radio as the surgery began. Maher noticed a tickling sensation in her face from the anesthetic. "Make sure I'm numb when you start with the knife!" she said.
The first place the doctor opened up was Maher's chin.
Next, he peeled back her right cheek. This was the goriest part of the procedure so far.
I was told that some medical students sometimes faint at this juncture. But I found it fascinating and marveled at the thickness of the colorful insides of the human face.
As the doctor prepared to make his first stitches, he told Maher, "you're going to start feeling tight, alright?"
There was nothing plastic about the surgery. The word "plastic" does not refer to the material — it comes from the Greek word plastikos, which means "to mold" or "to form."
Aside from the peek inside the fatty cheek, the other gross part of watching a face-lift was seeing extra skin dangling off the edge of the face.
Stanislaw spent much of the day perched over his patient in different positions — sometimes he sat on a stool, while in other moments he stood wide-legged with his feet turned out.
"It's not like open-heart surgery," Stanislaw said. "It's me being absolutely meticulous with these little little tiny stitches. There's like a thousand little tiny stitches, because the smaller those stitches are, and the better I put those stitches in, the nicer the scars are."
By the end, I could already see some bruising on Maher's chin.
The final step was an eyelid-lift.
By the end of the day, Maher's jawline looked more taught than it did when she came in.
A patient's face generally feels tight after plastic surgery, and there is almost always some bruising. But no bed rest is needed.
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