Tummy tucks. Neck lifts. Lid tweaks. So many cosmetic procedures on the menu. And my question is: Does cosmetic surgery make sex better?
Once upon a time, I mused on this very topic. Cosmetic surgery, as a theoretical means to improve your sex life. But I wasn’t actually expecting a response. I was, at the time, dismayed at the prevalence of procedures filtering down into EveryWoman’s evolving view of possibility and necessity.
Cosmetic surgery is no longer solely for well-heeled society ladies of a certain age or Hollywood stars.
I find myself curious and interested to revisit this subject, particularly after watching several episodes of the reality show, Botched, which I only recently stumbled into.
So what do you think? Does a tummy tuck improve your sex life or just make you feel more confident when you slide under the covers with the person you love? Is any cosmetic procedure ultimately an issue of giving a person their confidence back if it’s gone missing, and thereby improving the quality of their sex life along with the quality of other aspects of daily experience?
Now, I haven’t had any cosmetic procedures myself… which doesn’t mean I haven’t reached the stage where I recognize a droop here and a waddle there, and I nurture a few fantasies of waking to skin unaffected by gravity. Still, I would welcome feedback from those who have taken the plunge whatever the procedures, even as I admit to my own mixed feelings on the subject.
Intellectually, I believe we should all age gracefully and gratefully, accepting the natural signs of time on our faces and our torsos. On the other hand, I certainly know what it is to look in the mirror and begin to see my mother, and not myself. I know what it is to feel (even more) judged by appearance as the years roll along, particularly in certain professional and social settings. I am also aware of the critical importance of projecting our best selves — from the inside out — which includes the competence and “can do” attitude that some people seem to radiate, no matter what.
However, when the outside is not in harmony with the inside, the disorientation can be surprisingly intense.
We all know there are additional causes for concern.
What happens when a spouse begins to look at other women more frequently? What happens when a woman begins to lose confidence in her sexual self as gravity starts to take effect, and no amount of diet and exercise is making a difference? What happens when a woman finds herself single again in her middle years after marriage ends, and she begins to look for suitable partners? And if she wants a partner her own age or close, how does she compete with those 10, 15 and 20 years younger?
One friend of mine had a few procedures done with terrific results. I hadn’t seen her in a while and when I did, I thought she looked fantastic — rested, and excited about life as her children were heading off to college. When she told me she had “work done,” I was genuinely surprised. She pointed out where I needed to peek to see the telltale signs, and then she told me how much more energy and sexual interest she had — and attention from men — since her surgery.
Still, as she was quick to add, she is financially secure. Dropping 20k on elective surgery wasn’t a problem. Moreover, she no longer works for pay, and thus to be out-of-pocket for a month or longer was also affordable.
Remember: Surgery that removes you from your routine isn’t just about the initial outlay; it requires additional disposable income in the period that follows, and even assuming no complications, the ability to take time off while still paying your bills.
I knew another woman some years back who, after a tummy tuck (following children), found her sex life rejuvenated. Again, I understood the perspective. I also understood that she had someone to care for her, and to care for her children as she healed. Although she had to foot the bill for the surgery itself, she had a salary and benefits to provide some amount of disability during the period of time that she took off. Likewise another acquaintance, who opted for a breast reduction and lift, not so much a matter of “competing” in the romantic realm, but to finally feel more comfortable in her own skin.
What do the so-called “experts” say on the subject of cosmetic enhancements and improved sex life?
Consider this from Real Self:
… A study from the Aesthetic Surgery Journal called “Better Sex From the Knife? An Intimate Look at the Effects of Cosmetic Surgery on Sexual Practices,” found that cosmetic procedures can greatly improve your sex life. 95 percent of women who took the survey reported improvements in body image regardless of the type of procedure they had undergone. What’s more, 80 percent of breast augmentation respondents declared an improvement in sexual satisfaction, while 50 percent of body patients reported an enhanced ability to achieve orgasm.
Of course, we need to recognize the source of the study, not to mention the limited number of participants and rather narrow scope of its design…
Nevertheless, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of women are looking to reconfigure, to renew, to refurbish… or simply to “recover” what they can. For those without the health, the logistical support, or the financial means, it seems to me that this is potentially a serious and significant issue when facing ageist attitudes in job searching, and making the pressure to “freshen” a matter of perceived (and possibly real) competitive necessity.
I don’t wish to judge either side of this debate; I understand both.
- Your thoughts on cosmetic surgery and less invasive procedures?
- Your feelings about the lack of level playing field for those who don’t have the funds to foot the bill — even if they wanted to nip-tuck?
- Your feelings on the increasing pressure to be youthful in order to get or keep a job?
- How is the issue of cosmetic procedures different from something like brightening your teeth or dying your hair?
- What message are we sending our daughters and likewise, our sons?
A few statistics you might find of interest:
Some 219,000 cosmetic surgeries were performed in the 13 to 19 age group, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), in 2010, and there were some 236,000 procedures in this same age group in 2012.
As for whether or not cosmetic surgery yields a better sex life — my two stories hardly support any affirmative hypothesis, though clearly, for these two women, the renewed self-confidence brightened many aspects of their lives. So is sex improved as a matter of enhanced self-confidence? Does that mean we are denying the visual aspects of arousal and pleasure that may come from a “prettier” or more youthful appearance for yourself or your partner?
Of course, watching a show like Botched can be horrifying, not to mention a cautionary tale. And any of us who have cruised Google images or seen the cruel mockery of some of our most favorite actors after cosmetic procedures — Meg Ryan, Renée Zellweger — know how a woman is attacked if the public doesn’t like what she’s done to her face.
I can’t help but think of this as the lose-lose proposition for many women, particularly those in the entertainment business, but certainly spilling over from media of all sorts into the mindset of women in general as the double or possibly triple standard persists — the requirement to be beautiful, thin, and young.
This last feels especially wasteful: To age and continue to create, to contribute, to give, to engage, to love — these ought to be honored as great gifts. Yet millions of women in this society, and I count myself among them, will feel pangs on loss and possibly fear for their ability to make a living as well as enjoy a love life as age shows its inevitable hand. It seems tragic that we should so dismiss those gaining in years that we — women — feel we must hang onto youth at all cost if we are to maintain our “value” and our livelihood.
As for our sex lives, as it is, we may be dealing with a libido rollercoaster at a certain age, which, if we’re fortunate, evens out as we find our rhythms again. But will there be a partner to turn to who will embrace our maturing beauty that radiates from within? Is that a nice concept for pop culture consumption, but utterly unrealistic without that diet, that low lighting, and the cosmetic tweak if we can afford it? Who doesn’t want sensuality and passion to be part of any stage where we may find ourselves? Who doesn’t want the physical and emotional connection that comes from the spark between partners? Who doesn’t at least want a shot at it?
Beyond one’s livelihood, given that divorces are taking place older, and men typically go younger in their choices of romantic and sexual companions, is it any wonder that women are seeking any way possible to stay in the game?
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