Middle-aged men at risk of 'addiction' to plastic surgery

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Many middle-aged high flyers who use cosmetic surgery to look younger and more attractive are suffering from depression and addiction to surgery, according to some psychologists.

Many middle-aged high flyers who use cosmetic surgery to look younger and more attractive are suffering from depression and addiction to surgery, according to some psychologists.

In a worrying side-effect of the modern obsession with youth and good looks, growing numbers of men are suffering mental health problems because they believed, wrongly, that surgery would improve their sex and social lives or careers.

Dr Eileen Bradbury, a psychologist who specialises in treating cosmetic surgery patients, blames the phenomenon partly on the intense pressures on men in industries such as the City, advertising and corporate law to appear young and good-looking. In the worst cases, they become addicted to repeat procedures and skin treatments, either to continue "improving" their appearance or because they believe the first operation was a failure.

The trend in male cosmetic surgery has been accelerated by male celebrities such as Michael Douglas, Tom Cruise, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers, Elton John and Burt Reynolds, who are all believed to have had treatments.

Even Robert Redford, who had long insisted he would grow old gracefully, has apparently fallen under the knife. Last week, a Beverly Hills surgeon said Redford, 64, had had an "eye lift" to remove baggy flesh and fat around his eyes before the Oscars.

Dr Bradbury, who will present her findings at a Royal Society of Medicine conference on cosmetic surgery in Liverpool this week, calls it the quest for "perma-youth". She said: "It's a much more psychologically dangerous process than people recognise."

Steve, who lives in Kent, was a high-flying, Lotus-driving lawyer who has wrestled for 30 years with a dysmorphic obsession with unnecessary hair transplants which has led to severe depression, redundancy and heavy drinking.

Last year, Steve, in his late 40s, had cosmetic surgery to repair the ageing and sagging caused by his drinking. Despite advice to the contrary, he believes surgery is essential to help him solve his emotional problems. "I'm trying to make a life for myself," he said. "But the only way this can be done is with cosmetic surgery."

Dr Bradbury said middle-aged men generally find it hard to handle a major crisis such as divorce or redundancy and may use cosmetic surgery as a crutch.

"Men who lose their jobs in the City or in jobs which requires them to look young and thrusting, believe that if they look younger and more attractive people will use them more," she said.

Dr James Partridge of the charity Changing Faces, which supports disfigured people, said many high-street clinics failed to properly evaluate the emotional state of their clients. "Some patients have quite unrealistic expectations. They're often encouraged to take surgery without an opportunity to discuss other possible options."

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