Christie Brinkley is a paragon of aging gracefully. At the age of 63, many would say she is as beautiful as ever – and absolutely beautiful for a women in her 60’s! What is her secret and how much does plastic surgery affect it?
Is Ms. Brinkley’s Graceful Aging a Story of Great Cosmetic Surgery?
When we see unbelievable aging like Christie’s, many immediately assume they had the help of plastic surgery. Surely no one can look that good in their 60’s, right? “Mostly it’s genetics,” explains board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Tracy Pfeifer of New York City. “She’s a beautiful woman, she has taken care of herself throughout her life, she didn’t have major weight fluctuations up and down, she exercises a lot, she eats properly.”
As of today, our genetics are set in stone. Some are luckier than others in how their genes are expressed, massively aiding or damaging how a person ages. After genes, however, all other variables can be controlled, to a degree.
Any great plastic surgeon will explain to patients that the #1 way to age gracefully is by lifestyle choices. Botox, fillers, and surgical procedures can absolutely help, but ultimately, aging depends on how much abuse the body has or hasn’t seen. Christie is well-known for being a vegetarian, a lifestyle choice she has supposedly maintained since the age of 13. There is evidence to suggest vegetarianism can greatly improve physical appearance, an outcome potentially based in the amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants available in such a diet.
Beyond diet, exercise and/or maintaining a healthy weight over long periods of time greatly contribute to aging gracefully. Weight fluctuations can readily cause faster aging, while exercise itself is attributed to a whole host of great things for the body – as well as the mind. Other lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, and sun exposure dramatically impact the skin. A life of minimal alcohol intake and no smoking is one of the best ways to age slowly, as well as protecting the skin from the sun.
Lifestyle Choices are Only Part of the Equation
Perfect lifestyle choices can only get one so far; Christie Brinkley is no exception to that rule. Fine lines, wrinkles, and loose skin will come to all, it just depends on how fast. To counter these affects, many non-surgical products can greatly help.
Christie herself admits to having Botox in her neck and filler in the forehead area. From the perspective of PSC surgeons, is this really it? “Well, she might have had a little bit more than that; her cheeks look pretty full to me,” says Dr. Pfeifer. “She really has very few lines – that doesn’t just happen because of good genes.”
“Genes are probably the #1 thing, but the truth is now, we have a lot more products that are far superior than anything that was around even 10 years ago,” shares board certified plastic surgeon Dr. William P. Adams Jr. “Patients really have an opportunity to maintain and enhance their results much better.”
Dr. Adams is speaking to the array of non-surgical modalities that patients can partake in with zero downtime: Botox, fillers, non-invasive fat removal and skin tightening devices. Botox and fillers especially are truly incredibly products considering the kinds of enhancement they provide. Surgical patients routinely utilize these products to maintain results, as well as the growing population of would-be patients. This group may never have considered plastic surgery before, but are very interested and willing in non-surgical modalities. Utilizing Botox and fillers can smooth the aging process, pushing back the time when one may need surgical rejuvenation.
Does Christie Brinkley Distort Patient Expectations?
One potential problem with someone like Christie Brinkley is she sets the bar extremely high for patients. After all, she is a marvel because she is the pinnacle of aging – a circumstance, based on the combination of lifestyle and genetics, that isn’t available to all. Does this, then, distort what is achievable to the average plastic surgery patient?
“I don’t think it distorts [expectations], but I think it shows people what’s possible,” explains Dr. Pfeifer. “Because Christie and Jane Fonda are so well-known amongst women for having taken care of themselves over a long period of time, I think they’re role models to show people what’s possible if you take care of yourself.”
While somewhat counter intuitive to patients, lifestyle choices are always mentioned in consultation with board certified plastic surgeons. Your surgeon is not only looking to find the best ways to achieve your goals through surgical or non-surgical enhancement, but also create goals to live by so that they last. Two patients who have the same procedure will have different results over time if one makes great lifestyle choices while the other does not.
Beyond the necessary conversation regarding lifestyle, a discussion about realistic goals is also extremely important. Some patients come in and want to look exactly like someone else – a typically flawed point of view that needs to be corrected. Plastic surgery – whether surgical or non-surgical – centers around enhancing who you are, not changing you to be someone else. When this is understood by patients, it puts them in the best position to consider the best options for them and how to maintain results.
Christie Brinkley’s success opens an important conversation between surgeon and patient. For the latter, it can be very encouraging to know that you don’t have to look bad when you age.
“I think people need to be realistic,” says Dr. Adams. “It’s a good model for people to see; whatever your age is, it doesn’t mean you have to look bad or old. In fact, you can look great like she does!”