I had my facelift Awake!
Coming up to 50, the face that stared back at me from the mirror looked more like my 76-year-old mum’s (sorry mum). No lotions or potions seemed to help – and I tried them all – so there was only one thing for it: surgery. Except that wasn’t an option either, because it involved a general anaesthetic, and I’ve always been afraid of those, in case I
don’t wake up again. Then I discovered that I could have my face re-modelled at the Harley Street Skin Clinic under nothing more than the injection you get at the dentist. Here was a chance to fix my face.
Tuesday, September 9
I arrived the Harley Street Skin Clinic (famous from the TV show Stitch Me, Lift Me, Tuck Me) to meet the softly spoken Lesley Reynolds, who puts me at ease by laughing when I tell her my mum’s reaction to the news “A face-lift. Oh you must, darling!” Lesley’s husband, Dr Aamer Kahn, and his colleague, Mr Peter Cumbo, a specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeon, talk me through all the options for turning back the clock. Mr Cumbo AND DR KHAN HAVE been practising FOR OVER 20 years and carrY out reconstruction work on soldiers, which gives me confidence in THEIR abilities, as well as THEIR ethics. MR CUMBO confirms I have all the usual signs of ageing – my skin has lost elasticity, my eyelids appear hooded, there are “malar festoons” – otherwise known as puffy bags – under my eyes, my cheeks and my jawline are sagging and I have the start of a double chin. All of this, they say, can be fixed.
The doctors leave the room and Lesley tells me more about the benefits of local, rather than general, anaesthetic – principally it’s safer – but she refuses to take my booking, insisting I go home and think carefully about going further.
Wednesday, September 23
I’ve talked about nothing else for the past two weeks. Most of my girlfriends say “Go for it.” My other half, radio presenter Nick Ferrari, begs to differ. “You’ll melt in the sun next time we go on holiday,” he says. I choose to ignore him, call the clinic and book in. The cost makes me wince but what would I rather have – a loan for a new car or a new face? The face wins.
Wednesday, October 8
Last minute nerves at my friend Louise’s 50th birthday. “Please don’t do it!’ she urges. “You really don’t need it. What if it goes wrong and you look terrible? It’s not to late to pull out.” I feel slightly sick. What am I saying to my 50-year-old friends? That they look old? That they look ugly? That natural is bad? Then another party-goer laughs at my horrified expression. “Take no notice of her. I’ve had my nose done and she didn’t even notice. Go for it.”
Thursday, October 9
After a final night of “I just don’t understand whys” from Nick, my friend Neil gives me a lift to the op, mainly to make sure I don’t run away. Mr Cumbo gives me a quick recap before we enter the theatre. I’ve opted for face, neck and eye surgery but he assures me, “We want to make you look fresher, but you will still look like yourself,” Then he explains
the procedure. “We’ll give you a light sedation, but you will still be talking. Then we will take the excess skin from your up lids and remove the fat pad under your eyes. Later Dr Aamer KHAN will use laser resurfacing around the crows feet. You will be left with fine a hairline scar on the lids that will be hidden in the crease. “In the afternoon, the skin around the jowls will be tightened and the scars for the jaw line and neck will pulled behind the ears and along the hairline. Finally, we’ll do a bit of lipo to remove the thickness here.” He points at my chin. Because of the number of procedures I’m having, I HAD OPTED for sedation as well as the local anaesthetic. A drip is placed in my arm, administered by an anaesthetist. As promised, I remain awake and pain free, in a calm, almost dreamlike state. The day passes in a haze
until, finally, it is 5.30pm and time for Dr Kahn to laser my eyes. That stings a little, but it only takes about 10 minutes, and suddenly, I’m finished. I AM THEN PUT INTO A RECOVERY ROOM CONNECTED TO A BLOOD PRESSURE MACHINE TO MONITOR ME. WHEN THE DOCTORS ARE HAPPY THAT I AM SAFE TO LEAVE, THEY DISCHARGE ME TO GO WITH MY FRIEND. There’s no overnight stay – a huge plus when you are a mum – and I’m free to go.
Friday, October 10
Having been advised I should sleep upright for the first four days, I have slept very little. But beauty comes at price.
Saturday, October 11
I can’t eat anything that needs much chewing (it’s not a good idea to move the stitches much) but I’ve stocked up on bottled water (you need to drink as much as possible), porridge, healthy soups and paracetamol, as other pain killers thin the blood and increase the bruising.
Sunday, October 12
My sister Lisa, 47, arrives. “Not bad,” she sniffs. “But you’d better not look younger than me.” She helps me peel of the bandages (I need to wear them constantly apart from washing for the next two weeks). She seems suitably happy that my face is red, swollen and sore.
Monday, October 13
I wash my hair and dry it with a cold hair-dryer as my scars can’t take heat. I giggle when I catch sight of myself in the mirror and realize I think I’m looking better. It is only four days since the op, but I’m loving my chin already, despite the swelling, bruising and scabbing. I have to stay out of direct sunlight for the first 60 days, but it’s raining so I put on my SPF 50 and venture outside to walk the dog, with my new face bandage on and my hood up – hoping the neighbors don’t spot me.
Tuesday, October 14
My neck’s gone yellow from bruising and I have no feeling in my cheeks What have I done? My mood is not helped at all by the fact Nick still can’t see why I bothered. To be fair, the clinic had warned me about the post-op blues.
Thursday, October 16
A week after the op, I’m back for my stitches out and I don’t feel a thing. I get a good look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘Mr Cumbo is a genius.’
Two weeks later:
I’m so happy with my face. I look like me but younger and my confidence has done a complete about turn. The only visible scars are on my eyelids, but you can hardly see them. The ones behind my ears are healing nicely and even the feeling in my cheeks and ears has started to return.
Three weeks later
There is barely any swelling left now. “I’m definitely getting my face done when I’m 50,” my 18-year-old daughter says.
Two months later
I’m at a dinner with friends from overseas that we haven’t actually seen in 10 years, when I hear THOSE magic words, “You haven’t changed a bit!”
Siobhan’s eyelids and under eye bags were given an upper and lower “blepharoplasty”. A thin incision was made in the natural crease of the lid, then excess skin and fat were removed.
A French face-lift involves a small incision ABOVE the hairline IN THE TEMPLES, through which a long stitch is inserted into the cheek fat pad and the cheek muscleS, WHICH ARE THEN gently lifted back to where THEY used to be, restoring a youthful fullness of the face.
A lower face and neck lift rejuvenate the bottom third of the face AND NECK by tightening the underlying muscles AND REMOVING EXCESS FAT AND SKIN. An incision made in the crease of the earlobe extends around the ridge of the ear and behind it, so that in time the scars become almost invisible.
Finally, a tiny pinhole incision is made under the chin from which excess fat is removed. The chin makes a surprisingly big difference to how a face looks. The incision is not stitched, it is simply covered with tape and heals well.
For details, visit harleystreetskinclinic.com.
l Upper and lower blepharoplasty: £4,500
l French face-lift: £4,500
l Lower face and neck lift: £7,500
l Laser under eye skin tightening: £600
l Theatre costs and sedation: £1,850