More and more newly single women are taking to heart that old adage: “Don’t get mad, get even.” They’re losing weight, getting in shape, cutting their hair — and some are turning to the knife and needle to further recapture their youth. In fact, according to a recent study by the Transform Cosmetic Group in Great Britain, more than a quarter of the patients who visit plastic surgeons’ offices are recently divorced women.
“Revenge is sweet, especially when you look younger than your old spouse!” Steven J. Pearlman, MD, FACS, a facial plastic surgeon specialist based in New York wrote on his blog. One of Pearlman’s patients, Sue, came in for a neck lift and lower facelift after her 12-year marriage ended. The 50-something year old was not only ready to start dating again, but she was beginning a new career as a school teacher. “Her face didn’t match her young body and mind,” he says.
A few weeks after her surgery, before she even saw the final results, Sue was thrilled with the way she looked and felt more like her old self, he reports. In general, women in their 30s are coming in for fillers to lift their cheekbones, Botox to soften wrinkles and eye lifts; those in their 40s are doing the same and also getting brow lifts; and women in their 50s and beyond are getting facelifts.
Who is Getting Revenge Surgery?
The trend of revenge surgery isn’t just limited to New York City. Richard T. Ethridge, MD, PA in Fort Worth, Texas, also reports a rise in newly divorced women getting plastic surgery. “The majority of them are 32-40, who got married young, in their early 20s, with one or two kids,” he says. “After 10-plus years of marriage, these women are trying to find a way back on market.” Ethridge, who works on the entire body, says that mommy makeovers, a combination of breast augmentations, breast lifts and tummy tucks, are the most popular surgeries for this demographic.
“These women do gain a lot of confidence,” Ethridge reports. “When they come in three to four months down the road, they’re dressing in a more body conscious way and even have different tan lines. I can tell they’re starting to show off their bodies again.”
Pearlman notes the same confidence boosting effect of these surgeries. “It’s not uncommon for someone who was introverted and self conscious to come in post-surgery, wearing new clothes and looking me in eyes and smiling.”
Proceed With Caution
That said, don’t expect plastic surgery to be a cure all, Pearlman cautions. “Surgery doesn’t make you a new person; what it does do is instill and restore confidence. It helps to reflect the beauty that you feel on the inside.” Pearlman is cautious to weed out patients who think a facelift is the answer to attracting a new mate. “It’s similar to a teenager. I won’t work with a girl who thinks if she has a new nose job, she’ll instantly become head cheerleader.”
Josh Korman, MD, FACS, adjunct associate professor of plastic surgery at Stanford University echoes those concerns. “It’s really important that with any transition, you don’t rush into anything, surgery included,” he says. “Surgery is permanent. It isn’t like a haircut that will grow back in a few weeks.” Korman says the surgeon’s job is to limit and guide the patient properly. Depending on the person, he won’t operate for a few weeks to a few months if he feels her motivation isn’t healthy. He says surgeon’s motto should be: “Gentle in. Gentle out.”
What is the right motivation for surgery? To look more refreshed and youthful and feel more confident, Pearlman says.
Between meeting the right guy, figuring out what to wear, and making small talk, dating is hard enough, even when you’re in your 20s and 30s. Surgery and cosmetic treatments can give women a confidence boost and help level the playing field.