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Are we all obsessed with staying young?; INSIDE OUT.

Byline: Jane Haase and Eileen Taylor

FEAR of growing old is not a new phenomenon, but now that there are more ways than ever to combat the ravages of time are we suffering from "permayouth" - the inability to age?

The term was coined by Dr Eileen Bradbury, one of the country's leading experts on the psychology of plastic surgery.

She says: "There is nothing new about the anxieties surrounding ageing in the 21st century. What has changed is the social and economic context of ageing and the means available of looking youthful. These processes began in the last century and have accelerated into the present century."

Dr Bradbury, who is based at the Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, was in Liverpool last week for a Royal Society of Medicine conference on ageing of skin.

She was warning about the dangers of cosmetic surgery becoming an obsessive preoccupation.

"Over the last 15 years I have seen an increase in the number of people having multiple procedures, " she says.

"There is an increasing fear of getting old. Panic suddenly sets in. It affects those the most who were attractive when they were younger.

They suddenly reach middle age and find they become more invisible."

AND this is not just the province of women; men are just as prone to the insecurities of ageing although they have traditionally been judged less harshly on their ageing appearance. Divorce rates are one of the reasons for the rise in the number of people having cosmetic surgery.

"People in their 40s, 50s and 60s suddenly find themselves back in the world of dating, " explains Dr Bradbury.

"The first time round for marriage people tend to be the same age but the second time the men, in particular, tend to marry younger women.

"Being a wealthy older man is not enough any more, women today often have their own money so men need to look younger as well."

She says even film stars like Michael Douglas, who has married the much younger Catherine Zeta Jones, looks like he has resorted to surgery to keep his youthful looks.

"If you look at his jawline at his age you would expect there to be jowls and there aren't.

"His eyes are wider than you would expect."

But it's not just about the Michael Douglases of this world, more and more men are having plastic surgery.

"It used to be the gay community who were into body image but now all sorts of men are having it done."

The most common procedures for men are eye and facelifts. Some also have Botox in their foreheads to look less anxious.

Dr Bradbury says: "Age is not a valuable economic commodity in the world of international business and unemployment rates for those over 40 have rapidly increased.

"Modern medicine provides a solution. If the problem is looking older, then the solution is to look younger, or at least to halt the clock. And now what is on offer can seem like magic. All is possible."

The risk to psychological wellbeing is the development of "permayouth".

"While those who seek cosmetic treatments may be aware of its limitations in terms of their life successes, increasing numbers are seeking multiple procedures and become addicted to the hope of what these treatments offer, " she says. "If it becomes an obsessive preoccupation, then it leads to an increase in anxiety and vulnerability to depression.

"For those who get a whole body reworking it is like a rejection of yourself."

Speaking about how "seductive" having numerous treatments can be, she said: " I think what happens is you get truly addicted. It is very exciting. You feel your life is going to be different.

"Post operative you get this euphoria and then come down when you realise life is just the same.

"Plastic surgery can help people who have stable life situations.

They have to understand what they are going for and understand what is achievable.

"They need to ask themselves 'in what way will my life be different?' "If it is to get the ideal partner or job they are going to be disappointed.

"It can't make you beautiful or change you fundamentally as a person."

I just want to look as good as I feel

HAIRDRESSER Herbert Howe is no stranger to the surgeon's knife.

He would recommend it for anyone who feels that their looks belie how young they feel inside and sees nothing wrong with fighting the physical ageing process.

He had a facelift five years ago, with laser surgery at the same time for remaining wrinkles. It cost him pounds 5,500 but he says it was worth every penny, especially when you think how the expenditure is spread over so many years.

"The surgeon told me I wouldn't need another, I would just always look 10 years younger than I am, " says Herbert whose Liverpool salons were featured in the TV docusoap series Shampoo.

"I have also had liposuction twice and had a nose job. I have had my eyes done twice, which is the best treatment of all and makes you look wide awake. I am not trying to look 25 or 30. I am trying to look very well, to look as good as I can for my age which is nearly 60, " says Herbert, who offers the services of a Harley Street plastic surgeon from his Liverpool salon and the increasingly popular Botox injections.

"Being in business since I was 17, I have had my share of worries and that does show in your face. I have had surgery for myself, not for other people's benefit. Most people these days have a young mind and are young at heart but their face may be letting them down.

They may as well look as young as they feel!"

To those who say they don't believe in fighting age, Herbert says it would be a dull world if we were all the same.

'THE psychological uplift is better than anything a doctor can give you. If your house is looking a bit old and dated you get it painted. If you start to let yourself go you may end up feeling very disgruntled with life."

But don't go by newspaper and magazine advertising alone, is Herbert's advice. "Seek personal recommendations or ring the professional bodies for cosmetic surgeons and find out all you can before choosing your surgeon.

"It's like having a good hairdresser.

Find the right surgeon and stick with them."


Dr Eileen Bradbury, left, says the rich and famous like Michael Jackson, Michael Douglas and Herbert may forget how to age
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2002
Previous Article:Books of learning worth keeping; PROBLEM POST.
Next Article:Turning over a new leaf for the sake of your health; INSIDE OUT.

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