Why Facial Plastic Surgery Is Pointless

Plastic surgeryREUTERS/Reinhard KrauseA competitor in China’s first artificial beauty pageant attends the opening presentation in Beijing December 12, 2004.

Women and men who turn to plastic surgery to engineer a better face may be disappointed: a new study suggests that going under the knife or needle makes patients look slightly younger, but
not more attractive.

In a small experiment, 50 raters guessed the age and ranked the attractiveness of 49 plastic surgery patients, aged 42-73, as seen in photographs before and after surgery.

Patients had all types of face surgical procedures, including brow-lifts, face-lifts, and neck-lifts.

Here’s the good news: raters thought that patients looked 3.1 years younger, on average, than their real age after surgery. In contrast, attractiveness scores did not show a statistically significant change following surgery, the study said. This was the outcome regardless of the cosmetic procedure or the age of the patient.

Describing one limitation of the study, the authors note that “rating attractiveness is perhaps more subjective than guessing one’s age,” and “further investigation is warranted to verify these findings.”

Plastic surgery remains a worldwide phenomenon with American leading the trend.

In 2012, over 14.6 million cosmetic procedures, surgical and non-surgical, were performed in the United States alone, according the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The most popular nip-tuck? Lipoplasty (fat removal) followed in a close second by breast augmentation, based on a study from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Thursday, August 1.

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