Nip and Tuck

Beauty comes from the inside, my mother told me. “Smiling is the best face lift,” she said. Wrong. I love my life. But smiling hasn’t taken the bags under my eyes overseas. Call me Judas for betraying my “natural ageing” beliefs, but I’m asking myself: To nip or not to nip. To betray one’s beliefs or look like a train wreck, the new computer or the new face? That is the question.

Share your views and experiences of cosmetic work and plastic surgery with me.


From today’s The Australian

“ONE day it will happen to you,” my readers used to warn me years ago as I lambasted Botox with such vitriol that I had plastic surgeons writing me hate-mail and readers saying, “Just wait!”

I wasn’t afraid of ageing. I’m part of the “healthy-ageing” movement, as opposed to anti-ageing; I’m with the leading scientists and doctors around the world who abhor surgery and artifice and do research to help us achieve longevity rather than using chemicals and surgery to redress nature’s work.

I was twice a speaker at the International Conference on Healthy Ageing and Longevity and have been happily committed to eating blueberries and red grapes to boost the body’s resveratrol and DHEA reserves, and to standing on my head in yoga positions, toning the skin and the thyroid.

But readers, it happened to me! Recently I started noticing bags around my eyes. Having had successful laser surgery for my short-sightedness six months before, I figured that the puffiness was related. My wonderful eye doctor, Dr Ilan Sebban, explained that it wasn’t and sent me upstairs to a colleague to confirm. She was, I then realised, a plastic surgeon. Cont…


Related Coverage

The cost is exorbitant and many procedures require regular revisits. But that hasn’t stopped consumers. Australians spend $1 billion a year on cosmetic enhancements, according to this year’s medical Cosmetex conference. Our industry grew by 10-20 per cent last year.

In the spirit of healthy ageing, I recently went back to university – to follow my creative passions so I could FEEL fabulous. Beauty comes from the inside, my mother told me. “Smiling is the best facelift,” she said.

Wrong. I love my new life. But smiling hasn’t taken the bags under my eyes overseas. Call me Judas but I’m asking myself: to nip or not to nip? To betray one’s beliefs or look like a train wreck? The new computer or the new face? Admissions, experiences and points of view dearly wanted on my blog, and you can post under a pseudonym.




, , , ,

86 Responses to Nip and Tuck

  1. Ruth Ostrow 26 October 2011 at 9:57 pm #


  2. Ruth Ostrow 23 October 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this girldancing, and I’m happy you have found me! Please write often, warm regards Ruth

  3. girldancing2 22 October 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Ruth, I have recently discovered your column and in reading the comments, I am actually shocked at how so many of them seem to almost attack you for even letting the thought enter your mind to do something about your bags under the eyes.
    I am 50 and still look pretty good, however I have a very deep line between my eyes. I have gotten many comments from friends saying I look worried and worn out. I am a very health concious person and live really well taking very good care of myself. I have had a very small amount of botox to soften this line with great results. It has been My choice and it was done for Me not anyone else. I do not regret it.
    I do not agree with all of the comments that say grow old gracefully and do nothing. letting your hair turn gray and stringy, wearing sloppy clothes because they are comfortable? not my idea of how I want to grow old gracefully.

  4. Azure 18 June 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi Ruth,
    Wow that last story #82 brought a tear. All the comments are great, for and against. I’m nearly 59 and “need” neck work. The rest of me I can live with but the ugly neck gets to me every time I see it. Alas I can’t afford the procedure but if I had $ to spare I would consider it. However we all read of the ‘failed’ procedures and the awful botch ups and that scares me. I think you will go ahead with it as it is causing you grief. My advice is to research the product/procedure well and good luck in choosing your surgeon. They are all human after all and are not Gods tho that is how we often view them.

  5. What it is to be 50 4 June 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Hi Ruth, I have never written to you before even thou I read your articles each weekend. Your article Nip and Tuck hit home. This is the year I turn 50 and I watch my face and body change – but I am CEO of a youth organisation so I am reminded daily of my impending date with the BIG 5..0! This week I have had a young university student quite blantantly refer to me as irrelevant in the youth scene – while they welcome “elders” from various cultures, both and men and women, who have an important place in tradtional culture, I am simply old and therefore of no benefit. Instead of being angry I laughed .. and as I laughed I thought of all the thinsg I had done since I was 23. Slept in a tent under the Berlin wall, crossed borders that no longer exist, driven a 4 wheel drive across parts of remote Africa, raised two children, taught 1000 of students, many of whom keep in contact, stood in front of UN delegations and talked of child rights to a safe environment … loved and lost, and all those things that make my life a rich tapestry of experiences… it made every grey hair, very hair on my chin, every wrinkle 100% worth it. This week I pondered your article, I too have contemplated the bags under my eyes, the moving flesh – I even had a bloody breast scan and they put Pokemon bandaides on my “sagging nipples” because they were casting a shadow on the x ray – imagine the humiliation! Then yesterday I was driving in the country on some field work and as I was coming home through the forest a passed a young indigenous girl on the side of the road with a very small child. Walking alone heading toward the city – 80km away. I went past her at 110km on a busy 4 lane country highway. As I flashed past all those fears came flashing through my brain.. who was she.. why was she there ? Then because I am a woman, a mother, an experienced traveller I pulled over, turned back and tooted my hoon for her to get in. She was immensley relieved, she cried and told me her story. We travelled together and we laughed and shared our stories. We exchanged numbers and I will meet her again soon in another country town where I happen to work. At the end of the ride she hugged me and cried again. She said” Hundreds of cars passed me.. I was afraid that no one would son was tired, we had already walked a long way. Thankyou so much, I will never forget your kindness.” As I drove off I looked in the mirror to see her family greet her and I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror, with the wrinkles and the hairs on my chin .. and I laughed. I love who I have become and this age brings new wisdom each day. Maybe I can learn to live with these changes and be wiser for it. I am who I am. I am not thirty, or twenty or even forty anymore. Bring it on.

  6. Ruth Ostrow 31 May 2011 at 12:48 am #

    Hi Julia I wrote to you on your other comment. I would like to blog more with you when I am more awake and have time. But appreciate your honesty and courage.

  7. Julia 30 May 2011 at 11:25 am #

    My mother, who is in her mid 70’s, has been having nips and tucks, botox and implants for the past 20 years. She stopped doing it suddenly as it no longer made sense. Why? Because her only grandchild, my daughter, was killed in a train accident in January this year. She was nine and half years old and trying to get a torch from the tracks. Priorities change overnight when you really understand what is important in life. My suggestion to you, Ruth. Every time you want to have a little work done on your face, find out the cost and then put that money away in a savings account for someone who will benefit. When you see the smile of their face from the gift or think about what you are doing to make a difference to someone’s life, your face will light up like no botox smile could every give you. Hope you like my suggestion. Julia (47)

  8. Jean 28 May 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Well, said, # 78 Helen!
    That is exactly how I feel – liberated from the tiresome struggle for perfection.
    So Ruth, every time you feel tempted to botox or nip and tuck or liposuck – look at those awful pictures of those poor old girls whose treatment failed. It’s not worth the risk – look forward to liberation! 🙂

  9. Helen 27 May 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    A lot of what I’m hearing sounds like middle aged adolescence. ” I wish my bum was smaller, my hair was straighter….” My goodness, wasn’t growing older meant to liberate us from this tiresome struggle for perfection; seems that a lack of self acceptance keeps some women awfully unhappy, and a lot of cosmetic businesses and surgeons awfully rich.

  10. Roxanne Bodsworth 27 May 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    Hi Ruth, always enjoy your comment and think you have some great things to say, but so disappointed to read that you would actually consider the nip and tuck pathway. I am ageing, in my mid-forties, and every wrinkle and bag has been well-earned. I think older women look beautiful with all their wrinkles and the history in their faces, and when it’s wiped away, as seems to have been the case with Olivia Newton-John and Isabelle Allende, they look fake and all their natural beauty gone. Please make a stand for beauty not being restricted to the young and taut. I’m very saddened that this seems to be such a pressure, and saddened by the role models who succumb. It bodes poorly for the future for women. Consider also that there is a shortage of botox for sufferers of spina bifida because all the stocks are being used up to treat women’s superficial vanities.

  11. Deanne 27 May 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Dare I quote the immortal Stan Lee – “With great power comes great responsibility”? You have an opportunity to age gracefully and to show the rest of us how un-scarey it is. Your mother is right and until now you, too have been instinctively right. Embrace those little lines because they are real. Be resolved to be you, not some plastic imitation of a shallow Hollywood role model. You be the role model for those thousands of increasingly younger Aussie girls who see plastic techniques as “normal”. Help to stem that lemming-like plunge into the plastic funeral pyre….and remember, nobody looks as closely at your face as you do. Step back from the mirror and get a realistic perspective, and in doing so you should also remember the sum total of who we are is not what we look like!

  12. Jean 26 May 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    At 67 years of age whenever I look in the mirror I get a shock. Is that me? I don’t feel old but that is definitely an old face looking back at me. But it is MY face and so long as I can smile and feel young I will be staying well away from botox et al. Old fashioned soap and water and moisturiser is all I have time for anyway. The older I get the busier I get!

  13. Peter 26 May 2011 at 9:44 am #

    So, Ruth, what are the options for us? Have you checked them out?

  14. Jomarie 26 May 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Have you seen ‘the train wrecks’ from cosmetic surgery? No natural expression-just blank. Do you really want this look?

  15. Ruth Ostrow 25 May 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    I’m laughing Peter, people keep saying in a patronising voice Whaaaats Wronnnnng? You look so tired, you look Depressed! No I just have eye fat which has moved to the wrong place giving me dark creases and shadows. I know I am still an attractive woman. I’m not stupid nor vain. But if one more person tells me I don’t look well, I will scream.

  16. Peter 25 May 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    Your column hit home with me. Like you I always thought I would age naturally. At 60, I still do – no botox for me or any other form of cosmetic surgery, BUT those bags under my eyes are creating shadows. I look exhausted and sad and I am neither. So yes I am sorely tempted. Thanks for your honesty. What to do?

  17. Michelle 25 May 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    I’m just into the phase of noticing fine lines around the eyes and mouth, so am not going to come accross all holier than thou, but I do want to draw attention to your looking “like a train wreck” comment – it is not a train wreck, it is normal ageing. Or at least it used to be.

    It is interesting tho, how much time we spend/waste on “maintaining” our faces and bodies, with a complete awareness of the ridiculousness of it all, and of our own complicitness. People are funny (funny weird, and funny ha ha!) and often quite sad.

    Interesting how this relates to your happiness project – would becoming complicit with the anti-ageing brigade increase or decrease your happiness, given your beliefs, or would your beliefs change to maintain your level of happiness?

  18. Rachana 24 May 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Hi Ruth, Rachana here. How are you? I just chanced upon your recent column and thought it a good opportunity to reconnect. I also have what I think you will find to be useful input. I am having great results from a device called the EPower. Its fantastic. It rehydrates the skin. It actually increases the negative potential in the cells via a subtle yet powerful electrical charge. It’s totally safe and treats the whole body. I absolutely love it and have been using it for the past two years. You can see a demo on Utube re a face lift treatment. It really works. I’ve just been through a very challenging 2 years and the support of this energy medicine technology has been essential in enabling me to navigate very rocky events. We were burnt out in the 2009 fires and the fall out has been massive. Get back to me and we can chat further.
    Love and blessings.

  19. Ruth Ostrow 24 May 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Which begs the question why you write this?

  20. Denise 24 May 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Don’t do it Ruth!
    Why give in to all the hype in our culture about the way people, particularly women, should look?
    Try Qi Gong instead. I’m not joking. Meditation and qi gong will improve vitality and physical appearance in a better way than plastic surgeons.
    I’m sure you look fine just as you are. Or would with a decent nights sleep!

  21. Helen 24 May 2011 at 10:47 am #

    It comes as absolutely no surprise that you are thinking about this.

  22. Ruth Ostrow 24 May 2011 at 12:15 am #

    Thanks for the response, personally I think this sounds like an infomercial for botox, a product I still disapprove of despite my ponderings on nipping and tucking. But I take it in good grace that you seem committed to the cause, and so are only conveying the world the way that you see it — as we all do.

  23. Magic 23 May 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Dear Ruth , Cosmetic Medicine and minor cosmetic surgery can make a wonderful difference to peoples lives. I speak with experience , I am just starting work in this field , after working 12 years as a public hospital emergency doctor and GP . I was sceptical about doing any of this type of work, until a friend of mine bit the bullet and started to botox his friends and family with fantastic results . He now works full time in cosmetic medicine , and after spending a few days in his clinic learning techniques, Im going to do some training in this art .
    OK , heres the positives from the doctors point of view – patients are ecstatic with their results from botox/fillers and minor procedures . The work is about making people happy , which is much different from the chronic illness / chronic pain that we see in general medicine .
    It is about making someone ‘enjoy themselves’ again , creating confidence in patients , and restoring their youth .
    In your article you mentioned ‘ costs are exorbitant ‘. I agree botox and fillers are expensive, but the cost to the doctor is $1600 per 3 ampoules of botox , so its understandable that is costs a few hundred to the patient to inject crows feet around the eyes , or their forehead .
    Medicare covers most of the cost of blepharoplasties ( upper eyelid skin removal ) , but not anything else really .
    If youre not happy with the results of injectables, well, botox wears off after 12 weeks, and fillers are dissolvable with hyaluronidases . With the care of a skilled cosmetic physician or plastic surgeon id say most patients have a fantastic result /improvement in their appearances !
    I cant really comment on major work such as facelifts / threadlifts etc . as I dnt really have any experience with it , but for those who want something minor done I say go for it !

  24. Lynley 23 May 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    It is your choice, Ruth, but for myself I would never nip, tuck, botox or have any plastic surgery unless it is for functional reasons.
    What is wrong with looking old? Why do we feel the need to look ‘other’ then what we are? What is the old saying? Oh yes, ‘my face I don’t mind it because I’m behind it, it is the person i am facing that gets the jar!!!’.
    Go the computer, touch up your facebook page picture and have fun. (Just avoid those mirrors, nasty things!!).

  25. Marion 23 May 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    DON’T DO IT!!!!!!! Some wear and tear is perfectly acceptable. People who look sleep deprived and punched up usually are! The rest of us are NORMAL. I once had a very droll (male) friend describe beauty as ‘having regular features’. Give him credit, it’s pretty accurate (pardon the pun). Trust me Ruth, you definitely have Regular Features and their wearing and tearing just goes with the territory of not being 25 anymore and I ask you, who would want to be, truly? Not a bad trade off, I reckon :o)

  26. Fabienne 23 May 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    You got to the nub of the issue: new face or new computer. I certainly have nothing but admiration for friends who achieve discreet results with fillers and surgery. It is a big investment and they have prioritised their appearance above other discretionary spending. They have also takent the risk, specially those who’ve gone under the knife. These holier than thou types may not have the means or the guts, and who are they to deny or begrudge any of us making our own choices. Having recently turned 57, I live daily with the temptation to “do some work”, but there are the opportunity costs. .. For the time-being I content myself with positive thinking: it is so great to be in good health and to have a functional body – and my wrinkles don’t hurt.

  27. Ruth Ostrow 22 May 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Beautifully put!

  28. Ruth Ostrow 22 May 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Yes as I wrote earlier we all do so much anyway… its not a huge leap to cosmetic enhancement although I would always rule out Botox and face fillers due to the toxic nature of a lot of products.

  29. Ruth Ostrow 22 May 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Hi Tesa no it doesn’t stop does it. But then again I have been dyeing my hair for years now and it gets to the point where you know you are using so many artificial cosmetics anyway on your face and hair and skin, it is only a small step over to the dark side. I have a friend who had gone grey and stayed that way for a few years. In the end she put color back in – and yes she does look years younger. Does it matter? In the end its a personal choice.

  30. Tesa 22 May 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Hi Ruth,
    I have two workmates both in their 50s; one who uses mascara to cover her grey regrowth if she’s skipped a hair appointment and the other has recently taken the plunge to stay grey. Guess which one has an abundance of confidence and which one does not? However, I was shocked to hear my silver workmate recount the negative comments from other female colleagues such as in passing: “there’s an example of a woman who has let herself go”. I think it’s up to you how you feel about which way you want to go – just remember that we can disproportionately focus on one feature we are not happy with and in the scheme of things nobody would have noticed until we’ve made a comment about it. If you get your eyes done, is it going to stop there?

  31. Pettina 22 May 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Acceptance that for a myriad of reasons (education, society, upbringing, life experience) you don’t love the bags and that there is a way to be rid of them without concerning yourself with others approval seems pretty smart too

  32. Pettina 22 May 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    Love your honesty… never say never hey. I think it is interesting that most women dont think twice about hair dyeing and teeth whitening, bit of lip gloss, control top pants, push up bras… the list goes on and ALL of these are to improve or enhance what we have. I’m 40 and breastfed my kids and do yoga and eat organic raw food and use my galvanic spa facial thingie with ageloc gel and and… yet I am feeling that IF i feel the need to do something I’ll do it. I do have concerns about how I would explain this to my daughter without her receiving the message that I dont love myself… and I think this would stop me from having anything MAJOR like a facelift but there are so many relatively less invasive procedures that can tweak this and that. Again, everyone has different boundaries I suppose but interesting how inflexible/ judgemental the so called “progressive, natural” women are.

  33. Deborah 22 May 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    Ruth, our faces are part of who we are. I know women in their 60’s & 70’s & 80’s who are beautiful – sure their faces are lined and they may even have bags under ther eyes, but the love and compassion & humour that they have carried all their lives has made them beautiful. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Believe in yourself and recognise that the aging process is just that – part of the process of living this life, embrace it.

  34. Elise 22 May 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Its your choice. If you are at the stage where you don’t like what you see in the mirror, or even worse, avoid looking in the mirror because you just can’t look at yourself, then do something about it. I was that person. I recently had blethroplasty on my upper and lower eyelids to remove excess skin and fat from my lower lids. I am so happy with the result, I still look like me, but now have eyes that look bright and rested. I now feel confident looking in the mirror and enjoy wearing eye makeup. I am 47, I didnt have the surgery to look younger, I had it so I would feel better about myself, and it worked.

  35. John J HOWARD 22 May 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    I have been looking at girls – sometimes closely – for 70 years. I don’t think age brings wisdom but it can bring JUDGMENT.
    Ruth, bums can be beaut; tits, terrific; skin, sensational; and faces fabulous.
    But when you’re getting together, it’s the girl inside that counts.

  36. john Stewart Day 22 May 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    No, Ruth, NO! Don’t deface who you are.
    Philosophers over the years have said that the only way to inner peace is to accept who you are now; to accept that you are the culmination of your own work, accept the beauty spots with the warts, and be content with you NOW. Today’s penchant for putting on a false face so that shallow people will love you is self-defeating. people you need to love you will do so regardless of how you look. Beauty – real beauty – is IN the eyes, not under them. You are a beautiful person. Know this, accept this, and it will show.

Leave a Reply