For a certain group of very social ladies in New York City (the Hamptons, Palm Beach, and other fabulous locales), and a growing group of men, it would seem that the Fountain of Youth simply overflows. Magazine headlines with movie stars like ageless Demi Moore and Julia Roberts touting “40 Is The New 20” and “60 Is The New 40” are all over newsstands. We wondered, how do they do it? A dear friend, who asked to remain nameless and is not the socialite patient featured in the following story, got the scoop for Hamptons.com. Here’s all the dish that fit to print as told to Hamptons.com Executive Editor Nicole B. Brewer.
How did our 60-something socialite friend — “Ms. X” –never seem to age? She didn’t have the pumped, pulled, thinned skin look associated with plastic surgery. She looked like she did in her 40s. “Darling, looking young at my age, means you either have good genes or good doctors,” she whispered. “I have the latter. Dr. Robert Jetter for facelifts, believe it or not, it took three to maintain this natural look, and Dr. Vivien Shiah for Botox and fillers. Call them.” I did.
“One of today’s great myths of plastic surgery is that minimally invasive procedures have taken the place of a regular facelift,” Dr. Jetter told me. “Trendy names like ‘Thread Lift’ or ‘Lifestyle Lift,’ and magazine coverage don’t guarantee the procedure will have any effect. And just because you can fill it, doesn’t mean you have to fill it as much as possible.”
The good doctor went on to explain, “With surgery, anyone can pull your face as tightly as possible and make it look abnormal. The artistry is getting just the right amount without looking artificial. We are getting looks today that never existed in anyone’s life at any age. The goal is to look like you did at some point in your life. Radical plastic surgery becomes too obvious and disfiguring. I prefer to do small, incremental procedures.” In other words, doing more often looks like you did less.
And, as they say, “Just do it.” Don’t wait until there’s so much to correct you come out of surgery a new woman — one that is, your friends might not recognize. “The best candidate for an operation is the one who needs it the least,” Dr. Jetter explained. “It’ll be easier to do and last longer.”
“Face lifts in your late 40s or early 50s can last 8-10 years.” Dr. Jetter said, “The next, 5-8 years. The skin loses elasticity as we age, so, as you grow older, you may want to do procedures more often.”
Another key to Jetter’s process: Everything needs to be individualized. “Often people come in wanting what their friend had done,” he continued. “But that may not be what they need.” Liposuction, for example, is not always the answer.
Dr. Jetter is the go-to guy for the Biggest Loser types, often performing total 360 degree body lifts to remove all that extra skin that can’t be dieted off. In these cases, a tummy tuck or total lower body lift, not liposuction, is called for.
Individualization is also the key to the natural looking breasts that Dr. Jetter, not nature, gives you. Don’t go up too many sizes, he cautions. And, let your doctor decide whether the implants should go above or below the muscle.
For flabby arms, Dr. Jetter says, “I have my own particular way of doing an arm lift , an operation traditionally known to have bad scars, that results in less scarring.”
A Jetter face lift incorporates tightening facial muscles under the skin, sometimes adding volume at the same time with fat graphs, and getting rid of excess skin. Patients can usually begin going out in a week. It takes a few months for everything to “settle.” It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
“The second I see my face droop, it’s back to Dr. Jetter to get it taken care of,” Ms. X revealed. “No one notices. They just never see you age.”
In between lifts, it’s off to the Park Avenue office of Dr. Vivien Shiah. One day, I followed to pick up a few secrets. Dr. Shiah has her own way of avoiding the frozen Botox look. Once again, more looks like less.
“A lot of people call asking what I charge per section,” Dr. Shiah explained. “I don’t work that way. That’s the worst thing in the world! It screams, ‘I had Botox at the 11’ (the two lines between the eyebrows). I do micro injections all over the face: around the eyes, the lips, brows and neck. I want everybody to have a face that moves naturally. Totally immobile foreheads look fake. ”
Another Dr. Shiah secret: Restylane — everywhere. “Hands, elbows, feet, knees — These are all telltale signs of aging, as well as your face.” She loves the way she can mold it to create cheekbones. What she won’t do: put Restylane in between the eyebrows (the dreaded 11) and the lines above the lip. “Some ladies walking around the Upper East Side look like they have a piece of putty stuck onto their face. They don’t see it because they only look at themselves front on. But, from a 45 degree angle, it’s so obvious.” Her solution: inject the lip and the lines above it will puff up and smooth out.
“I can mold the Restylane when I inject it to create cheekbones, get rid of under eye bags,” Dr. Shiah continued, “and maintain a very natural look.”
“I think about how the light hits in different ways,” Dr. Shiah said, “how it looks from different angles and how everything balances together. It’s like I’m working on an actual piece of sculpture.”