A.J. Hanley, a 37-year old editor at Fitness magazine in New York City, inherited what she call “puff bags” beneath her eyes from her father and “droopy eyelids” from her mother. “People always thought I was tired,” Hanley explains. “My mother would put me to bed early, and when I was little, my neighbor said I looked like his basset hound.” But whenever Hanley, a petite redhead, mentioned plastic surgery when she was in her twenties and early thirties, her friends and family thought she was nuts – her then husband even jokingly threatened to divorce her. “He thought I was completely vain,” she says. They wound up divorcing anyway (for many reasons unrelated to the puffy-eye issue), and Hanley, then 33, made an appointment with a plastic surgeon. The doctor recommended a blepharoplasty-surgery to remove excess fat and skin from her upper and lower eyelids – and Hanley sold her engagement ring to help pay the $7,900 fee. “I’d always thought, When I’m 40, I’m going to have my eyes done,” Hanley explains. “Then I was like, What am I waiting for?”
The operation, Hanley admits, was messy. John E. Sherman, M.D., Hanley’s New York City – base surgeon, made incisions on the inside of each of Hanley’s bottom eyelid, from which he removed the lower fat bags. Then he used a laser to tighten up the newly sagging flesh and diminish any wrinkles, leaving Hanley with two raw patches beneath her eyes. Dr. Sherman also cut along her upper-eyelid creases to remove the fatty pockets and excess skin before sewing the incisions back up with black thread. “I looked like Frankenstein!” Hanley exclaims. Her eyes oozed a mixture of blood and pus. She hid behind dark sunglasses in public and used bags of frozen peas to ease the swelling at home; she couldn’t wear contacts or concealer for two weeks. But slowly, after the stitches came out and the bruises softened from purple to yellow, Hanley noticed the difference. “A month after the surgery,” she says, “two guys asked me out on the same night. One even told me he like my eyes.” And when she ran into a woman who knew her ex-husband, she wasn’t told, “You look like you had surgery.” Instead, the woman said, “You look amazing! Divorce really seems to agree with you.”
ONLY AS OLD AS YOU LOOK?
Most women who go under the knife do so to look younger, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. And though many plastic surgeons claim that doing a brow lift or a neck lift at an earlier age can help postpone more invasive face-lifts later on, Dr. Sherman explained, “If a 31-year-old comes in thinking she needs a face-lift, sirens go off. It’s good to get a face-lift when you minimally need it. Younger skin has more collagen and elasticity, so it heals more quickly and the lift will last longer – but I won’t do it on anyone younger than 40, and it makes me sad to think I have colleagues who will.”