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December 20, 2007

Beauty Excess: How Much Is Too Much?

Over-bleaching, over-tweezing, over-Botoxing ... the craze in upkeep has women so hooked, doctors and industry pros are now turning them away. Meredith Bryan reports

woman with sunglasses and ace bandages wrapped around her face and neck

Photo Credit: Michael Wirth

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Sometime in the past 10 years, with collagen injections and the Fraxel laser, it became not only accepted but expected that celebrities would plot — and implement — their expensive antiaging strategies well before the first sign of a line. While the gossip on awards show night used to be, "Did you see Meg Ryan's hair?" it became, "Did you see Meg Ryan's face?" (We doubt her plastic surgeon is experiencing the same surge in demand as Sally Hershberger, architect of her famous shag.)

Not that there's anything wrong with a little upkeep — most women today have moderate views on cosmetic surgery. In 2006, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) revealed that 63 percent of women in this country approve of it, though just 34 percent would consider it for themselves. But Hollywood, never known for its self-control, is riding a new wave of cosmetic procedures — surgical and non — to an unrecognizable extreme. Sure, this has had some perfectly attractive, rejuvenating effects on some stars, but many have been semi-shocking (Melanie Griffith).

One has to wonder: Are they — are we — really this uncomfortable with getting older, or have cosmetic procedures become an obsession? After all: Jenna Jameson! Priscilla Presley! Courtney Love! Do they think we don't notice? Do they think they look good? And worse: Are they rubbing off on the rest of us?

Plastic surgeons and dermatologists, a.k.a. the enablers, are the first to admit we've gone a little overboard. "You get to be 30 now, and you're old!" says Dr. Thomas Romo III, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. "For [the entertainment] industry, the culture of youth is their job. And what is a youthful face? Full, fat, smooth. But that doesn't look right on a 40-year-old." (Lisa Rinna, anyone?)

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