Tuesday, February 05, 2008

People my age are gradually turning to prunes. Wrinkles engulf the face. Deep furrows develop on the brow and cheeks and bags sag beneath the eyes. Layers of saggy skin envelop the neck and excessive adipose is deposited irregularly over the face and torso.

To avoid this process of aging, folks often resort to plastic surgery. The plastic surgery remodeling seems to look good for a year or two then many of these folks start looking like the picture of Dorian Gray. It’s almost scary. The face lift is called rhytidectomy. The surgeon makes an invisible incision to permit fat to be sculpted or redistributed and underlying tissue repositioned. Deep layers of the face are lifted and excessive skin trimmed away. Other techniques are also used like the injection of fillers under the skin to smooth out the wrinkles. Botox which is the toxin from the lethal bacteria that causes food poisoning is also injected into muscles so they go into a permanent spasm and prevent the muscles from scrunching up and producing the ugly furrows and wrinkles. Surgeons even have botox parties where people get together for drinks to get injected and then look at each others transformation to youth.

There was a term I learned in medical school called Risus Sardonicus. It is a term to describe the effects of tetanus, where the facial muscles are paralyzed and the victim has a fixed grinning expression. Their eyebrows are raised and they have a sustained fixed open grin that makes them look stupid. To me, this phenomenon also describes the way some of these plastic surgery remakes look. The skin is so taut it looks like the hide of an animal stretched over the model of a head and pressed with a steam iron.

All of this is great for a while, and I guess permanently in some folks, but many start looking like the distorted horror picture of Dorian Gray. This is the guy the author Oscar Wilde wrote about who remained young looking while his picture aged. I have known many of these people and they start looking like that picture. It’s sort of scary and I think it’s Halloween every time I see them.

Medicine offers many other things to restore our youth. Breast can be enlarged, reduced and reshaped. Various areas of the body can be tightened and some even lengthened, to hopefully, produce greater pleasure once experienced in youth. If surgery doesn't help, medicines can turn you into a raging bull to make you ready. Ugly varicosities can be removed with the results like the leg of a bathing beauty. Teeth can be capped and restored to give you the smile of an Osmond. There is simply no end to what money can buy from modern medicine. It’s like taking a dip in the fountain of youth.

As for me, I am content to stay on the porch and munch on prunes and be reminded that is the way I look. At least I have no picture hanging somewhere that is aging while I falsely maintain my youth. I will just age along with my picture and keep the camera aimed at the grandkids who are my secret to staying young.


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