The knives are out

Head to head Starting to sag? Thinking of a face-lift? Step this way, says celebrity surgeon Gerald Imber. Don't do it, says 70-year-old face-exercise guru Eva Fraser

"Plastic surgery makes you look better and feel more confident. In this world your appearance counts. It might not be fair, but it does. Looking for a job, looking for a partner, doing business; in every aspect of your life, your looks matter. Plastic surgery is not the route to happiness. It's part of a package. If everything else is good, if you're feeling strong and healthy but you're ageing too rapidly, then it's a nice thing to do.

Part of it is feeling old in the workplace. People at 55 are just coming to the top and they don't want to be looked on as dinosaurs. The idea of just looking a bit better and getting rid of some of the signs of mileage really helps. Surgery doesn't make an old person young. It just makes their skin fit, that's all. I take an approach of little but often. If you do little things as the changes are noted you can maintain your appearance without being changed.

I've been doing this for 24 years and I've done 5,000 face-lifts. I enjoy it. It's very gratifying. People are happy, they thank me. It's very uplifting.I do a partial face-lift which is quite wonderful and probably the most popular operation among people in their mid-forties. Just lift the cheekbones up again, get rid of those lines that go from the nose to the mouth. It costs about US$10,000. I don't work on plastic surgery addicts. We reject 25 per cent of the people we see. The Bride of Wildenstein [pictured right, after and before] wouldn't get through the door.

I haven't had any surgery myself. I'm happy with the way I am. My weight hasn't changed in 25 or 30 years and my face hasn't changed much. My hair is a little greyer, but I even like that."

Dr Imber is the author of `Skin Tricks', published by Thorsons. His latest book, `For Men Only', is published in the US by William Morrow

"Plastic surgery is horrendous. Anybody who could have their face cut up ... it's absolutely terrifying. People are talked into thinking it's just a nip and a tuck. It's not. It's major surgery. Your face is cut all over the place, they pull up your muscles. I'm sure if people really saw what happened they wouldn't even consider it.

It wouldn't be quite so bad if you could have one face-lift and that was going to see you through. But it isn't. You have to have another one after five years and then a third which only lasts about three years. I've known situations where the third one has only lasted about six months. Your face begins to droop again, because you can't go on and on stretching the skin, it becomes like a worn-out piece of elastic, and then you look just grim. This idea of little and often is rubbish. It's part of the idea that says start when you're 30 and then you won't have to have anything done later on. It's not true

Twenty years ago, when I was 50, I was ageing badly. I felt desperate. Then I met a woman called Eva Hoffman who taught me a set of facial exercises. They involve literally making faces. You can actually get the muscles to be springy again and to lift your face. It's incredible. I've been teaching this for about 20 years. Eva devised it in the Thirties with her doctor boyfriend. She had been a ballet dancer and had noticed that all the older dancers had beautiful bodies and terrible faces. When I met her she had been travelling the world teaching this technique. What's nice about it is people take the course and then look after themselves. No woman ever needs a face-lift."

Eva Fraser runs the Facial Fitness Centre in Kensington, west London (0171-937 6616)

Interviews by Cathy Cooper

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