Contemplating going under the knife but wondering if your 58-year-old face will truly emerge looking like that of a 40-year-old? According to a new study, it won't. A group of plastic surgeons set out to find an "objective measure" for their patients by asking 40 medical students to guess the ages of cosmetic surgery patients, ages 45 to 72, in before-and-after photos. On average, the patients shed 7.2 years from their face, but that number was dependent on just how much work they had done.
A facelift and necklift wiped 5.7 years away; those who also got their eyelids done eliminated nearly another two years. Tack on a fourth procedure—a forehead lift—and the grand total came to about 8.4 years. Time adds one asterisk to the findings: All the photos were of patients of a single surgeon (who also happens to be one of the study's co-authors). Results could vary under someone else's knife, but the lead author says the results are still useful: "Nothing we do is magical. We do certainly get 60-year-old patients who want to look 40, and this will help us when we discuss expectations." (Read more cosmetic surgery stories.)