Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
A few years ago, I visited a cosmetic clinic to treat a skin allergy.
There, I met a lady, (let’s call her Madam S) who changed my perception of cosmetic surgery forever.
At first glance, one wouldn’t be able to tell that she had anything done to her face. If anything, she looked normal.
Come to think of it, I didn’t notice anything at all at the 2nd, 3rd or 4th glance. Haha!
We got talking while waiting for our turn to see the dermatologist. And boy, was she friendly. We became friends not long after, and that was when I found out that she was a regular patron of the clinic, visiting at least once a year for her ‘cosmetic surgery’.
Cosmetic surgery has come a long way since its inception over thousands of years ago. Originally, it’s purpose was to reconstruct facial and bodily defects due to injuries, birth defects or diseases.
Initially meant as a dedicated surgery to help burn victims & people born with cleft lips, it has now evolved into a lucrative medical field.
Cosmetic surgery now enhances the appearance of its patients, either through invasive operations (going under the knife) or non-invasive ones (simple injections to the face).
Madam S was more than eager to clear the myths about cosmetic surgery, so we had a long chat about it over the phone one night.
This is Madam S’s story.
The story of Madam S
I first found out about cosmetic surgery from a close friend of mine, when we were in our mid-20s. She told me she had her nose bridge raised with a filler.
That minor change altered her look completely. She looked amazing! But I had thought to myself, “I’ll never have anything foreign injected into my body.”
Fast forward to more than a decade later, and I was suddenly a mother with 3 kids.
My husband was always travelling, so I was left alone to practically raise the three monsters myself, haha! That took a toll on me, physically, mentally and emotionally. I think — I know I aged a lot from that.
Well-meaning friends and family would give me tonics, saying that I ‘looked tired’. My husband would also joke that I looked like his mother! Even my manager hinted for me to take leave from work to rest.
This went on for quite some time, and I began to realize that I had this perpetual ‘tired look’ on my face. I hated it. I literally avoided looking into the mirror whenever I could.
As my kids grew older (the first is now 15, second, 12 and third 6), things got a lot easier. I could sleep better at night, but I still looked like a zombie upon every waking period.
That was when I thought to myself, “Enough is enough. I feel healthy, I feel good. So why can’t I look healthy?”
So I decided to finally do something about it, and got cosmetic surgery for myself.
It was never for anyone else. It was for me. I wanted my self esteem back — I wanted to feel and look like the best version of myself.
I made my first trip to the cosmetic clinic in 2016.
I was 40 then, and my frown lines, sagging skin, pigmentation had become extremely prominent. The bags under my eyes and hollows in my cheeks were also bothering me.
The skin on my hands and neck were also beginning to look crepey. You know, like the crepe cakes? Well, they looked like that. (Author’s note: After listening to Madam S’ description, I developed a dislike for crepe cakes.)
The doctor gave me a few options:
- For crepey skin on neck and hands – dermal fillers via injection using cross-linked Hyaluronic Acid called Juvederm. (Price was around RM2-3k for hand and another RM2k for neck)
- For wrinkles and crow’s feet – Botox via injection. (Price range around RM1k)
- For sagging skin – PDO thread lift injection and pulling. (Price range around RM7-10k) This supposedly hurts a lot. Not for the faint hearted.
- For frown lines (nasolabial folds) – Dermal Filler via injection. (Price range around RM2-3k)
- HIFU (Ultrasound) as a routine maintenance to tighten the skin. (Price range RM2.5k)
Example of Before and After Photos of Dermal Filler Patients
Image via uabmedicine.org
Image via llink.springer.com
The cosmetic surgeon was very adamant in letting me understand that these procedures would NOT change the way I looked. It would only make my skin firmer, more hydrated and volumized.
“Well, that was exactly what I wanted!” I said.
But the price was shocking. I hadn’t expected them to cost THAT much. So I thanked the doctor and drove home.
It took me 3 months before I finally decided to take up the offer.
I opted for options (ii) and (iv). I got Botox for my wrinkles and crow’s feet, and dermal fillers for my frown lines.
I won’t beat around the bush here. The Botox injection didn’t hurt as much. But the dermal filler made me want to cry, the pain was excruciating.
But right away, I could notice a difference. The lines on my forehead were not as obvious anymore. And the frown lines were a lot less prominent too. I looked like I had a good night’s sleep! I mean I slept well, but it never showed on my face, until that day!
(Author’s note: At this point, Madam S became very animated over the phone. She was obviously very excited about this part.)
The doctor explained that the process was only temporary, since the filler would be absorbed by my body and the Botox would be neutralized over the course of the next few months.
But I was ecstatic! I could walk to my office with my head held high for the very first time. If my colleagues suspected anything, they never said it aloud.
Like the doctor said, my face didn’t change. But it just looked healthier. My husband, bless his soul, finally gave me a compliment one day, asking if I had put on makeup. Haha! That felt really good.
By the way, I never told my family about this. Only a handful of my friends know.
It’s been 4 years now and I go back for refills once in a while. But while I like the effect of these treatments, I know that having too much fillers is never a good thing.
So I try to minimise the top ups and opt for option (v) instead, the HIFU (Ultrasound). This is done once a year, just to help tighten my skin.
I’ve spent quite a lot of my savings on this. You might wonder, why? People don’t notice anything. So what’s the point?
It’s not for everyone, I know. But like I said before, I did it for me. Myself, alone. Not for anyone else. And to me, that is all that matters.
Sometimes I do wonder how my face would look like once I stop the fillers but I plan to phase them out with the HIFU treatment. And hopefully, just hopefully, I’ll be able to age gracefully.
Madam S and I exchanged out goodbyes not long after.
I don’t particularly like the idea of having needles poking into my face and foreign particles injected into them. But to Madam S, this was probably her life saver. It certainly made her feel a lot more comfortable with herself and gave her confidence a boost.
So while there are many people out there who are against cosmetic surgery, there are probably a handful who have had their lives changed for the better because of it. What do you say? Cosmetic surgery: Yay or nay?
For more stories like this, read: I Had Surgery To Remove 80% Of My Stomach When I Was 17 Because I Was ‘Overweight’
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