A man’s story of what it’s like to have a facelift

 

Kit Miller was happily married – or so he thought. But then six months ago his wife suddenly walked out after 22 years of marriage, saying he was ‘too old, too broke and too ill’.  The 64 year old writer/ filmmaker and father of four from Hadleigh, Essex decided to get over the pain of the break up with an £8,000 cosmetic surgery makeover undergoing a  lower face and neck lift, Botox and a new suit and haircut. . He is one of the growing number of men who are having a  ‘mid knife crisis  to stave off the ageing process. Here, he tells us what it’s really like for a man having cosmetic surgery and how his facial boost and makeover has given him his confidence back and spurred him on for a new start in life…

“For the past 20 years I have been waking up each morning with a merry mantra:  How lucky am I to have beautiful healthy children and a pretty young wife.

This was my icing on the cake. The cake itself was a career – no make that a merry romp in Fleet Street as a showbiz writer and gossip columnist for a best-selling daily newspaper. As a journalist I came into contact with some beautiful people. Sometimes quite intimate contact.

I dated several gorgeous glamour models. Dating was what we did in the 80’s before Facebook put everybody ‘ in a relationship’.

I spent two very enjoyable, champagne-soaked years with Sam Fox who at the time was third behind The Queen and Margaret Thatcher in the list of Britain’s most famous females.

Then it was settle down time with a Pirelli Calendar model called Angie Layne.

Quite simply she was the most beautiful person, inside and out, that I have ever met. Angie moved in with me. We were in harmony and in heaven.

Then tragedy, as a recurrence of an earlier cancer scare turned into cruel, deathly reality. She was 32.  Six vodka-fuelled, grief-stricken months later I found myself with an Essex girl. She was 22. I was 42.

I had been having a drink or several with a woman who specialised in touting kiss-and-tell stories to the tabloids. She kept going on about her latest buxom blabber and how I would “love” her – even though she was dumping on the errant husband of an Eastenders actress. Eventually she bet me £10 that I would “love” her. I couldn’t resist easy money but thirty minutes, four drinks and a meeting with a vivacious brunette later I was hooked.

We managed to squeeze in two years of globetrotting around Australia, America and Europe before an August wedding in an Essex suburb. The sun shone as brightly as the attendant family smiles even though the impending arrival of our first beautiful child was all too evident

Fast-forward 22 years. I am still surrounded by beautiful chicks but these are courtesy of a garden full of hens and a prize turkey . I have four children ranging from 20 years old down to 5 years old.

The talk was no longer about Stringfellow’s and celebs. Topic of the day was buying a small farm to accommodate some pigs and a rescued donkey. The Essex semi just couldn’t take any more occupants. Two dogs, two cats, rabbits, doves and 15 hens fighting for elbowroom with six humans.

I felt like Pa Larkin in The Darling Buds of May.  All was fine on the home front, except for a niggling health problem Five years ago after our last child was born I was struck down with kidney failure. Not long before I had been in Cambodia hacking my way through steamy jungles with an army General on a mission to rescue some hostages for a special feature. Unfortunately these hostages were much more like wild geese. Our chase was a waste of time.

My only souvenir was The Lesser Spotted Cambodian Kidney Cruncher Virus. I personally named it because all the Queen’s doctors and her hospital men couldn’t put Kit back together again. They simply couldn’t identify or treat the thing so since then it has been slowly munching away inside me. And no, it isn’t contagious. Nor likely to chew its way out and escape. So three times a week I am hooked up to a machine that sucks out, cleans up and then pumps back in all my blood about 22 times in four hours. This replicates the work of the kidneys. The wife was pestering me to take one of her kidneys in a transplant to end four years of dialysis. What a girl, eh?

Despite my treatment and losing Angie I did feel lucky. I was still able to write and do some PR. I figured that four hours was how long I spent at lunch when I was on the paper. The only difference now was that I came home sober.

I was writing a film script which was in its exciting embryonic stage. The children were all picking out their parts and my wife was planning a six-month trip for us all when shooting started in Australia.

I will admit that I am the world’s second greatest optimist. Little did I know, my ‘splat’ moment wasn’t too far away but my children and I really didn’t have a clue?

In July this year the two teenage girls discovered their mother on a website describing herself as “separated and available.” When confronted my wife told me, in front of the children – that I was  “ Too old, too ill and too broke.”

We looked at each other in sunned silence. Then more breaking news from the wife: ” I want to have sex with younger men.”

My five year old looked at me and said: ” Dad, are we allowed to say ‘sex’?” If that came as a surprise to you imagine how the kids and I felt? Our mouths couldn’t have been more smacked.

Within 48 hours my wife and their mum announced that she was in love.   She hadn’t met him yet.

Within three days she was engaged to him. She still hadn’t met him.

Day five and all four children said that if there was a divorce they wanted to live with me.

The end of Day Five my wife attempted suicide, complete with farewell message on Facebook.

Day six and a rapidly recovered wife moved in with her sister all of 25 yards over the road.

Day seven and the ‘love of her life’ from website, moved in with her. He’s homeless, broke, and bald as a badger’s bum and I am told looks like one too.

I confess I have had quieter weeks in my life. They don’t hang about on that internet, do they?

So now I’m a single parent writer with yet another new chapter to negotiate. The title of the chapter has to be: “ Too old, too ill and too broke.”

Luck clicked in pretty quickly though. Told you I was lucky. I had a call from a producer in New York who wants to film a screenplay I wrote.

That takes care of ‘too broke’.

Then my Renal Consultant told me I could go back on the transplant list. That – hopefully – will take care of ‘too ill’. (Please don’t send any kidneys through the post).

That just left ‘Too old.’

For the past few years I have had to put up with being described as my young son’s granddad and quite often my wife’s father. That didn’t bother me but I was conscious of how it might be affecting the developing young boy.  I had started studying my reflection and pulling up the loose, wrinkly skin from my neck and pinning it back to my ears  to get an idea of how I would look if I went under the knife.

Would it transform me from granddad to father? Certainly it had to be an improvement. Every morning I looked at my face in the bathroom mirror and couldn’t decide whether to shave it or iron it. As for my  neck, it had more wattle than the prize turkey I kept  in my garden . I’d read about cosmetic surgery and seen the reality shows so knew a bit about what could be done. What the Hell. New life, new start. Taxi to Harley Street!

I was nervous as I sat in the exquisite Georgian waiting room of The Harley Street Skin Clinic. I am very squeamish with a needle phobia (great if you are a dialysis patient) and equally terrified of scalpels (great if you are lining up a plastic surgeon).

Even though I was the only male in the room my research had also told me that almost as many men as women are now re-arranging their faces.  But for me it was just a case of trying to roll back the years for my little boy.

I had never worried about going from blonde to grey. Or from full on sportsman to part time dog walker but as the ‘granddad’ comments mounted up I realised he was getting the rough end of things. Looks were going and the health requirements were eating into my home life.

I was still nervous when my name was called and I made my way and up stairs to a consulting room where Dr. Aamer Khan awaited.

Within moments he was holding my face in his well-manicured hands. Our noses were almost touching as his expert eyes ran over my problem area.

I felt incredibly relaxed about the whole thing now. Maybe he hypnotised me. Then he pronounced that I could get away with non-invasive treatment. That’s no scalpel. Whoopee!

Dr Khan has developed a state-of-the-art way of lifting faces with a combo of creams, lotions and potions. There are muscle-relaxing injections that smooth out lines. Dermal fillers to enhance the cheeks. Laser re-surfacing improves the complexion. Yes, I’ll have it all, I said.

There was another inspection of my face, some humming and hawing and then he was off to consult with his colleague  ‘Peter.’

Peter Cumbo turned out to be one of the top plastic surgeons in Europe, known for his natural looking results.  He lives in France and jets over when needed.  He examined my face using the same nose-to-nose technique as Dr Khan.

He explained that the neck ages similarly to the face – first fine lines appear and the skin texture becomes uneven and then in the 40s and 50s gravity kicks in resulting in saggy skin – apparently they call it turkey wattle.

“ You know what, Kit, “ Peter said. “I think there’s too much skin here for a non-invasive procedure. We should go for the full monty to get rid of all the loose skin and do the fully monty – alower face and  a neck lift.”

We had discussed the kidney problem but since I was having  Botox  to tackle the wrinkles which is w non invasive and didn’t involved being knocked out there would no problem. And  then a bigger surprise because even with the Lower Face and  Neck Lift, it could be  carried out under a local anesthetic.  Peter explained that he has pioneered a very new technique for neck lifts using just a local anesthetic injected into the sides of the head. Apparently, I would need incisions around the ears which would be hidden in the creases behind the ears, the excess skin would be nipped away and then the remained pulled back into an elevated position.  While the basic neck lift procedure hasn’t changed, what’s new is the technique Peter uses which greatly reduces scarring and recovery time.

An appointment was made for me to attend the nearby Wimpole Clinic ten days later where we would all get on with it.

Despite the no-scalpel scenario I managed to fit in a couple of bad dreams before the big day. In one Dr Khan held up a mirror at the end of an operation and I was Anne Robinson.

The other dream was post-op also, only in this one I had tried successfully to grow a moustache but it was on my forehead.

For the real thing I was early for the first time in my life so I knew it was a momentous occasion.  Dr Khan greeted me in his surgical blues.

He then casually added that the procedure would take about four hours. Maybe longer given that I had agreed that the new procedure could be filmed for their medical website.  Oh, did I have special music requests while I was on the table?

Being such a wuss I would normally have been halfway down Oxford Street by now but it was all a bit surreal. Nothing was unpleasant. Far from it. Here I was smiling at the prospect of a procedure involving razor sharp blades and my face.

Within three minutes I found myself lying on an operating table in a cosy theatre. Three friendly nurses, a director with a movie camera and Pete all gowned up started chatting away as if they were taking tea together.

Then for the first time in cinematic history a movie began with the director yelling, “ Cut.”

This is where it all became a blur. I had been given the shot in the head. I only knew it was working when I heard the initial slices but felt absolutely nothing. A glance sideways and I saw the female director turn a peculiar colour.

Peter chatted merrily away as he went about his work.  Luckily they had given me a tranquiliser beforehand. Hence the blur.

I do remember thinking, as Peter cut away, that I could get this part of the op done for nothing in Southend High Street on a Friday night.

I remember not feeling as if I had been there for four and half hours. I remember feeling parts of my face being tugged. I remember smelling burning flesh as the wounds were sealed with a mini surgical flamethrower.

I remember the director’s face stayed the same odd shade of green throughout.

Then it was all over. Tuck me! Even with the swelling I looked younger. And where were the stitches, the cuts? I couldn’t see a thing. A hundred years ago this would have been called sorcery. Today I can only describe Peter as an artist. His canvas is the skin.

What an experience. A facial support garment was slipped on to my head. Later my little boy would describe it as “ a pair of ladies knickers upside down “.  The purpose of the stretchy arrangement is to firmly but gently press the loosened and relocated skin so that no air pockets form while the rearranged skin and muscle heals. I wore it, as instructed, for two weeks. I didn’t feel uncomfortable but what a relief when it came off. You try wearing a pair of ladies’ knickers upside down on your head for a fortnight. However my children appreciated it more than me. The school run had never been so embarrassing for them.

I was also given a course of antibiotics and instructions not to lift, carry, and to rest for the first few days after the op.

During this period my wife made a rare visit to the house and spotted me in what I thought of as my cross-dressing Elephant Man outfit.

” You look like The Joker, ” she chirped.

I pointed out that she had always advocated cosmetic surgery as a legitimate beauty device.

“Well well not now. I’m going to grow old gracefully” was her riposte.

Quite so.

The neighbours on the other hand were genuinely fascinated and openly jealous. And wanted to know the ins and outs of the ducks posterior.

When the knicker turban finally came off, underneath was a still swollen and reddened football of a face. I had been told that it would probably take two months to settle down properly. That was about spot on.

There were three checks along the way with the reassurance from Dr Khan all was going well.  Now I look in the mirror and see a man I knew around 15 or 20 years ago.

The rejuvenation has started to spread to the remainder of me and my body. I am walking more, using weights to pump up the saggy biceps and contemplating some teeth whitening.

 

When you are on a new image kick you can’t jump into those old clothes. Just doesn’t work. The trouble is I always like designer clothes and they cost a fortune . So imagine my pleasant surprise when I read that Julien Macdonald , the fabbo frock designer , had signed up to do a range of men’s gear at Matalanthe problem was solved. Designer chic but no designer cheek when it comes to price.

 

 

 

Then to finish it off, my hair needed either the neighbour’s hedge trimmer or a proper professional going over. I have never been a habitué of hair salons as my hair has always been so curly it has gone where it likes. No combs and no hairdryers. So I decided to go for the professional touch and go to the celebrity favourite  Daniel Galvin in London’s George Street.

 

Top colourist Louise London’s George Street was not impressed. I was her greatest challenge. A cut to enhance my new neck and some colour to roll back the years. .

 

I’ve never been over supplied with self esteem so it’s difficult for me to say that I am now ready to twerk with Miley Cyrus but I do feel ready to rock and roll again. Maybe not so hard this time round though. And although I’ve never been impressed with my looks, my new image  has definitely transported me back to a time when I was younger and fitter The crazy thing is that my body has believed my eyes and actually feels younger, too . The thought of walking rather than grabbing a cab appeals more now. I am using moisturiser on my face, shaving regularly and checking in the mirror that I am not having a bad hair day.  I can’t tell you how relieved my children are. Your children never leave you. Nothing is truer. Ask my mum. She has just turned 90 and was going to throw a glitzy party to celebrate. Champagne ,dancing and she would have been the most involved in both believe me . A wonderful and remarkable woman. Instead of the party she parted with her savings to help pay for my makeover.. She said that seeing me with a smile on my face would be a better birthday present for her.

And that’s all I need to hear to know it was all worth it though she’ll get it all back when the film is released.

What’s more , I might go on one of those websites tomorrow. I could be ‘ in a relationship’, inform all my friends on Facebook, then split up and still be down the pub in time for lunch.

Or I could just take my little boy for a walk and wait for somebody to compliment me on having a lovely son, rather than a grandson. You can wave my birth certificate all you like and tell me to act my age but I bet you wouldn’t say that to my face.

The Rise of the Male Makeover

For decades men have traditionally shown a stubborn indifference to how they look. It was perfectly acceptable for them to age, go bald and develop wrinkles. Not any more. Today, men are the biggest growth area in the male cosmetics industry and the fastest growing demographic for cosmetic surgery with men now accounting for one in ten of all cosmetic surgery procedures. No doubt male celebrities like media mogul Simon Cowell, cricket star Shane Warne and chef Gordon Ramey who have all admitted to be fans of’ male grooming’ have helped pave the way for this rapidly growing trend and experts expect continued growth over the next decade. Lesley Khan from The Harley Street Skin Clinic says. “Spending time and money to look good is no longer seen as unmanly. We are constantly seeing an increasing number of high profile men reinvent their appearances so today there’s less of a stigma associated with men opting for cosmetic surgery and some male grooming. Men are also much more aware of the treatments available to them and what to do about their problem areas. Neck lifts, for instant are now one of our clinic’s most requested procedures, along with Botox, body contouring and breast reduction surgery to get rid of ‘moobs’ (male boobs). Most men  though   want treatments with maximum results with the minimum recovery time Treatments today are so much cleverer. Surgery can be incredibly hard to recover from and often people have to take a good few weeks off work. In the current economic climate, when many people are battling to keep hold of their jobs, this just isn’t an option. But, there is not always the need to go under the knife.  For almost every surgical procedure, there is a non-invasive option which means, no downtime, minimal discomfort and a fraction of the cost of cosmetic surgery, most importantly, it also means no general anaesthetic and a much speedier recovery as most of these procedures, are carried out in the doctor’s clinic The results we are seeing from these treatments are revolutionary.”

Lower face and Neck Lift  including  Botox    £7,950 By Mr. Peter Cumbo,  Harley Street Skin Clinic, contact, 0207 436 4441

Hair Makeover including colour and new style    £350 Hair by Daniel Galvin contact 0207 486 9661

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