Amanda Pendolino
August 02, 2013

Study Says Plastic Surgery Makes You Look Younger, But Not Hotter

Plastic surgery will make you look younger — but will a facelift make you more attractive?

According to a new study, the surprising answer is no.

Researchers in Toronto studied patients aged 42 to 73 who had one or more of the following procedures between 2006 and 2010: face lift, neck lift, upper or lower eyelid lift, and brow lift. They took before and after photos and asked strangers to estimate the patients’ ages and rate their overall attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10. (Note: there was no specific criteria for what “attractive” meant — clearly it’s a subjective concept.)

The raters found that people looked an average of three years younger after having facial plastic surgery — but any increase in perceived attractiveness was so small it was deemed statistically insignificant.

“When we’re doing this kind of surgery I’m telling patients that they’ll look fresher, more energetic and less tired, and we have some data in the literature that indicates you will look younger, as we found,” says Joshua Zimm, an attending surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Institute of North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York City. “But clearly I cannot say that they will look more attractive.”

While Zimm pointed out that the study shouldn’t be considered the final word on how plastic surgery affects attractiveness, he also said, “You can take away from this that if you’re looking to have aesthetic facial surgery to look younger, we’ve shown that you will. Beyond that … it is not clear that everyone will definitely look more attractive.”

Perhaps youth doesn’t directly equal attractiveness, despite the constant media narrative to the contrary. Female actresses have an infuriatingly short shelf life — and if these gorgeous women aren’t considered attractive as they age, the rest of us can feel rather doomed. No wonder celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow swear by painful laser treatments and expensive anti-aging products.

Maybe we’re all wasting our time — and undergoing risky surgeries — for no reason. Maybe looking younger isn’t better!

Then again, a recent study says regular sex can make you look seven years younger — and I think I owe it myself to give it a try. You know, for science.