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MAC THE KNIFE – beauty consultant to the stars
James Skinner on why so many of us now take to the knife instead of the gym

Humans, like peacocks, care about their external image. As far back as the fourth millennium BC, eye makeup and perfumes were used by the ancient Egyptians to enhance facial and bodily beauty. Later came the Romans, and during the spread of their Empire, further makeup improvements were introduced such as rouge and body powders. By the early 15th and 16th century, cosmetics of all kind were widespread throughout Italy and France. The Victorian age frowned upon such trivial pursuit from across the channel, but by the end of WWI, a dramatic change was to take place.

Terrible facial disfigurements to soldiers had been inflicted during the war. This allowed surgeons to develop new life saving techniques using skin grafts and other methods to repair damaged faces. Wounds were healed using different parts of the body including bone, fat, muscle, cartilages and skin. The era of plastic surgery had arrived.

It wasn’t long, however, before society, especially in Europe and America began to realise that not only damaged body parts could benefit from this new type of surgery. Why not extend the use of the techniques to cure minor malformation and natural disfigurements? From plastic surgery, the medical profession developed cosmetic surgery. So began a roaring trade for aspiring entrepreneurial surgeons of the twentieth century. A new brand of human narcissism was born.
By the 1960’s and 70’s microsurgery was introduced. It included the surgical ability to join small blood vessels combined with the usual body parts known as ‘face flaps’ in a single operation. This paved the way for better and more beautiful faces. Doctors also became artistic in their approach and carried out feature studies of a patient’s face prior to surgery. Incisions were made to coincide with natural skin folds and all scars were ultimately concealed through the use of fine sutures.
Modern cosmetic surgery concentrates on improving facial contours including the use of implants. Surgeons may strengthen a jaw line or return the linear balance of the chin and cheekbones with the rest of the face. A young person’s nose may need a reshape whereas a mature patient would undergo an implant, usually silicone, to repair a pair of sagging cheeks. Forehead lifts and eyelid remodelling are not uncommon requests.

The operation may take between one to four hours depending on the extent of changes to be made. The patient’s medical history is checked beforehand, such as use of medication, blood group, alcohol consumption and other details. He or she will be requested to refrain from eating or drinking prior to the operation. General anaesthesia rather than a local one will be administered prior to surgery.

However, injuries aside, why would anyone wish to alter the ones face in the first place? Is it because one wishes to turn back the clock and look younger? Or because one doesn’t like the look of ones face and wants to change it, or is it to look like someone else? In fact all three are the main reasons why today, human beings tend to visit Sweeney Todd’s beauty saloon.

Women have always pursued the fountain of youth through cosmetics and cosmetic surgery. In the forties and fifties, actresses such as Zsa Zsa Gabor and Rita Hayworth were constantly renewing their declining beauty in order to survive Hollywood. Others of lesser notoriety would subject their tender facial skin to the professional scalpel in fear of losing male attraction. There are even a few that opted a change for change’s sake. Tomorrow’s Penelope Cruz would replace today’s Kate Winslett model.

Rhinoplasty and Chin Enhancement are often performed together. It is not unusual to find that someone has a prominent nose and a weak chin. In these patients, the weak profile of the lower face makes the nose appear even larger than it actually is. If a surgeon were to make this patient's nose match her weak lower face, the nose would have been lowered too much and look like an "operated nose". Instead, the chin was enlarged and the nose modestly reduced. This gave her a balanced look and a natural appearance. See the before and after pics below.

But what about certain conceited males? Are not men equally preoccupied and enamoured with their physical aspects to ensure everlasting attractiveness through the use of cosmetics or surgery? To start with, one only has to visit Boots in the local town high street, and check out the men’s cosmetics department to see the amounts of body fluids, creams and sprays that are on sale. ‘Je t’aime’ pom-pom juice is constantly advertised on the television as aftershave, splash on, or ‘eau de toilette’. Sometimes portrayed by a naked female fondling an entranced male with the ‘flavour of the month’ lotion of love. The only real difference is in the price.

As for male cosmetic surgery, it’s all the rage! And we are not talking about the fifty something either. Many human masculine species in their mid thirties and younger are retreating for days or weeks on end to recover from post-operational facial surgery. All are being subjected to the same carnage as their female counterparts and for exactly the same reasons. But there is yet another twist to this human, particularly male, ostentation; it is known as the ‘change your chin’ operation.
‘Beards are out and chins are in’, stated a tabloid a few weeks ago. Whereas kings and gentlemen of old preferred to allow their natural undergrowth to cover their faces, today’s modern captains of industry prefer a clean-shaven jaw line. That is not all; members of the male sex in the USA are opting for chin look-alike operations. It will not be long, if it hasn’t already occurred, whereby European males will be put through the same torture mill.

Brent Moelken, a Californian plastic surgeon stated: ‘People with weak chins in the media are portrayed as embezzlers or as having weak characters. So a strong chin is very important. This has spilled over from film to industry with executives and salesmen who feel a strong chin would enhance their credibility’.

So, hairstyles are old hat and chins are new vogue.
If you are a man and had a choice, would you go for the movie star look of Kirk Douglas (circa 1950), Brad Pitt or Mel Gibson? Or would you try a more political touch, seeing as it is election time, such as a ‘Tony’s crony’ or a ‘William’s Bruce Willis look ’? Whatever you do, don’t go for the ‘Prescott Special ’. You might end up with egg on your face!

© James Skinner. 2001.

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