I was recently alerted by a beauty journalist to a just-released study on perceptions of the results of plastic surgery. The aim was to evaluate whether people who have had a face lift are deemed by others to look younger and more attractive. The study’s self-proclaimed results were “aesthetic facial surgery was effective in reducing the apparent age of patients but did not consistently improve their attractiveness.”

Well at least they looked younger. Or did they? When I looked more closely at the study's results I saw that the number of years younger on average was three. Was that all! I should explain at this point that the study gave photos of 49 post-cosmetic surgery patients to 50 raters, who were asked to guess the age of each patient and rate their attractiveness.

Just think about this, in the eyes of the beholder the average number of "years saved" (true age minus guessed age) was three. That's after going under the knife, having an expensive, invasive and potentially dangerous procedure. You could get to look three years younger by having a good night's sleep, a romantic weekend away from it all, a detox.... fill in the blank.

I can't possibly agree with the study's conclusion that the "surgery was effective at reducing the apparent age". Even the upper range of "years saved" was only nine years. Which isn't so fantastic either.

If someone has cosmetic surgery and it makes them feel good about themselves, then the outcome certainly justifies the means. But it seems that the perception of others does not.