Illustration by Bill Brown
Not long ago, when plastic surgery would come up as a topic among my friends, it was solely as a source of derision: “Oh my, have you seen [35-year-old actress’s] lips lately? She’s gone full Joker.” “What’s wrong with [50-year-old athlete]? Suddenly his face is frozen in amber!” It was the freaky celebrity stuff that caught our eye (poolside, sharing the National Enquirer) and demanded immediate commentary. Then something happened: We got older. Those lines that appeared only when we squinted too long or laughed too hard are now staging a permanent sit-in. Those lids that were heavy only after a poor night’s sleep are now weighed down 24/7. The clock is clearly moving forward, and my friends and I have found there is something to admire in a forehead that doesn’t collapse like an accordion-—at least if expertly done.
Our realizations came right on schedule. One of the doctors featured in our package on plastic surgery in this issue says that most women are between 40 and 42 when they first see signs of aging. Good morning, Doc, you got me there. I would have thought the average age would be lower in L.A., where you don’t have to walk (drive?) too far to find someone—female, male, young, old, doesn’t matter—who’s been nipped or tucked. Growing up, I knew a few people who’d had a nose job as teens, often with regrets (“I miss my original nose!”). Now I know folks who talk about their Botox, lipo, or chin implant as easily as they discuss what outrageous thing happened the night before on Breaking Bad. The idea that plastic surgery is limited to the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods is beyond dated. Procedures are cheaper and faster than ever before, and the appeal has reached across cultures. Just as this magazine has examined autism in L.A. and what race means today, we thought it was time to do a deep dive, so to speak, into plastic surgery. How has it evolved, and what will be the long-term effects on your face and body—and society as a whole?
I’ve always hoped I would wear my age gracefully. This was easier to imagine, of course, when I was younger. But I don’t hide my birth date (I’m not competing for roles with Olivia Wilde, so who cares if I’m 43?). Every crevice on my face has a story behind it, and I’m not eager to erase those memories yet. I certainly don’t begrudge those who do. I just advise seekers of eternal youth to keep it within reason, because if they don’t, things can go south quick. But if you can afford it, and it makes you happy, and it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else in the process, so be it. For me, trimming my plants on a cool autumn morning fills that bill, but talk to me again in five years. Or just look at my forehead.