How Do You Know When It's Time to Change Your Looks?

There comes a moment in life when many of us realize our outside no longer matches what’s inside. But what we may not expect is that improving how we look—our hair, our fitness, even our smile—can reverberate in profound ways

by Susan Gregory Thomas
woman looking in mirror image
Photograph: Geof Kern

After some research, she talked to a plastic surgeon about a procedure called fat transfer, in which belly and hip fat is liposuctioned and specially filtered to get to the “liquid gold” (the component of fat that is rich in stem cells, which, according to a burgeoning body of peer-reviewed research, can repair the skin’s texture). The separated fat is then injected into deep lines and wrinkles, as well as the cheekbones, jawline and lips, for what cosmetic medical professionals call facial -volume—essential for age busters, since young faces are full faces. As a 70th--birthday present to herself, Stroud took the plunge. “The change is so subtle and natural, no one knows I’ve had work done. But they say things like ‘You look so healthy!’ and ‘You must be getting an excellent night’s sleep!’ ” she says. “But I know, and I almost want to wink at myself in the mirror. It’s my little magical refresher, and I just love the results.”

Inspired, I recently tried fat transfer myself—thyroid disease was
giving me a gaunt, hollow look—and I am very happy with how it turned out. During my initial consultation, Kevin Cross, MD, a Cornell-trained plastic surgeon, asked me what he said was the most important question he ever puts to patients: “Who are you doing this for?” I didn’t have to think about the answer. “Me,”
I said. “I’m doing this for myself.” Cross nodded, satisfied. I had the right answer.

SUSAN GREGORY THOMAS is the author of In Spite of Everything: A Memoir and Buy, Buy Baby.
Next: My Bad-Hair Life


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First published in the October 2013 issue

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