Wondering how young you'll look after that face lift? Now there's a study to help you figure out.
Plastic surgery procedures took an average of seven years off patients' appearance, with more extensive facial surgeries turning the clock back even further, researchers writing in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery said.
While the goal of surgery is to restore a more youthful and yet natural appearance, doctors haven't had the data before to provide a good estimate to their patients of just how much younger they'd look after face lifts, forehead lifts and eyelid work, they added.
"It's not the numbers that are important so much as the trend," cautioned Nitin Chauhan, a doctor from the University of Toronto, who worked on the study.
"Everybody has different objectives in mind (for surgery) and everybody has a different pre-operative state," he told Reuters Health.
For the report, Chauhan and his colleagues recruited 40 medical students to evaluate the "before" and "after" photos of 60 people they'd operated on with face lifts, neck lifts and additional procedures.
Those patients, mostly women, were between 45 and 72 years-old when they got cosmetic surgery.
Before their procedures, the raters - who evaluated different sets of photos and looked at them in random order - estimated that patients were a year or two younger than their actual age. In the "after" shots, however, they pegged them at nine years younger than they really were.
The perceived age benefit was larger the more procedures patients had done, Chauhan's team said.
Getting only a face and neck lift turned the clock back 5.7 years, on average, based on the photo assessments.
That compared to 7.5 years for patients who had eyelid work in addition to neck and face lifts, and 8.4 years for those who got forehead lifts on top of the other procedures.
When all of these were put together, patients looked an average of 7.2 years younger post-surgery.
A study published last month by some of the same researchers found that nose jobs come with a side benefit of taking a year or two off the patient's perceived age.
But patients shouldn't necessarily choose to get extra procedures done based on the new findings, said Antony Sciafani, a facial plastic surgeon at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.
"The group that got the most benefit was the group that had more done. That's somewhat intuitive," said Sciafani, who was not involved in the study.
"But the underlying argument and realization should be, you did more because these people needed more. They looked more tired, they looked older."
The researchers said that as well as looking younger, the goal of facial plastic surgery is also to make people look generally healthier, happier and more refreshed, which can often be more important than the perceived age itself.
"I would never tell somebody who's 60 years-old, 'Go back and look at a picture of you from where you're 52,'" said Sciafani.
"You're going to look better, you're going to be more rested. The exact number, I wouldn't get too hung up about."
One of the study's authors is a consultant for Allergan, the pharmaceutical company that makes Botox.