“The literary equivalent of a summer night, a good friend and a gin-and-tonic: Shannon is a deft writer; a natural storyteller with a wicked turn of phrase and frighteningly specific memory...”

Download Shannon's story, "Beautiful Boy, Brandon Lee," in its full length, excerpted from her book, Smash, Crash & Burn.

My Browlift Before and After

It makes me crazy when celebrities over-45 attribute their youthful looks to “drinking lots of water,” or that old chestnut, “I’ve just got good genes” when behind the scenes they’re drinking the blood of virgin choirboys and having Work Done.

So when my husband’s friend Prudence asked how I managed to look so youthful at 47 I decided to walk-the-walk and confessed I’d gone Under The Knife, had a little Biological Photoshop, gave my face a trim. (Aka my browlift before and after)

You’re judging me. I know you’re judging me because I judged my friend with The Boob Job. Only Jugs centerfolds get boob jobs because they can’t pass rudimentary arithmetic. Shouldn’t my friend send the Boob Money to Madonna to open a girls’ school in Malawi?

I also judged friends who had Botox. They were putting botulism in their faces. What must the naturopaths, homeopaths and vegans think? These women probably needed a brain colonic!

Oh ye of clay feet. This is the photo that took me to the Dark Side:

Me referee

From the hair, to the droopy eyes and shorts, to that iridescent, water-proof, fire-proof, man-proof bumblebee shirt, to — can I even write this? — the knee socks, there is just so much wrong with this picture.

I took one look at this sucker and started saving my pennies. Then, last year at a child’s birthday party I met a mommy who ran a post-op Recovery Center. “Oh no,” I said, imagining people after heart surgery, “that must be so hard.”

“Nope,” she said, “It’s plastics.”

My droopy eyelids shot up. “Plastics? You must see every plastic surgeon’s work in the entire Los Angeles County basin!”

“And its adjacent territories,” she said. “Every. Single. One.

Two weeks later I found myself in renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Herbert Shleegalbottom’s (a pseudonym) office on Wilshire Boulevard awaiting my consultation.

I nervously glanced at the other women sitting in the waiting room. They were all in varying stages of horrific-ness. There were sutures in eyelids, swollen Frankensteinian brows, bruises darker than the madness awaiting Colonel Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness.

A woman with bolts in her head, which appeared to be the only things holding up her face, gave me a look. She effortlessly conveyed with just her frozen eyes that staring at plastic surgery patients in a waiting room is like one man staring at another man’s penis in urinals. Look away bitch!

Soon I might be looking just like her. I’d like to be the kind of woman who snow-shoes through frozen tundra to ice fish, then rappels off stalactites to get home in time to behead, skin, gut and cook the fish to feed my Inuit family, never once thinking about how she looks. I’m not one of those women.

The nurse took me back to Doctor Shleegalbottom’s (just “Bottom” to his friends) examination room for my consultation. He and I sat on stools opposite each other.

“What would you like to have done to your face?” asked Dr. Bottom, whose forehead was paralyzed into a prism of line-less beauty.

“Don’t play coy, you know exactly what I need done,” I challenged, Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral.

He continued to stare at me, unwilling to draw first. The townsfolk closed their blinds and hid.

“Fine,” I said, un-holstering my weapon, “my neck’s starting to pucker.”

“No, no I wouldn’t touch that. That’s all sun damage.”

Damn you, Mother! (it’s always the mother), why did you let me spray myself with that fucking cooking oil and fry like a chicken-apple sausage on Sunday morning circa 1976??

“Well, my eyelids bother me,” I said.

“Okay,” Dr. Bottom nodded.

What did he mean “Okay?” Was he saying I looked like Grandma Moses in need of a crane to bat an eyelash?

“Well, there’s just this extra skin…” I continued.

“Yes.”

“…that’s sort of hanging…”

“…yes, drooping…”

“…not exactly drooping, more like slipping…”

“…no, that’s a droop…”

“Fine, anyway, I think I need one of those blafo-somethings.”

“Blepharoplasty.”

“Yeah, one of those.”

“I wouldn’t do just that,” said Dr. Bottom.

“What?”

Dr. Bottom explained that if he only took flesh off of my eyelids, my eyebrows, which were apparently already perched precipitously low on my brow bone, would be yanked down lower and I would end up looking like a basset hound with liver dysfunction.

“What you need,” he said, “is the blepharoplasty and a brow lift.”

Wait, I came in looking for a simple pinch of flesh and this guy wanted me to walk out looking like Joan Rivers?

Then Dr. Bottom launched into the gory details of the surgery. I went into Selective Hearing Mode. This is what I heard:  “Mwa mwa mwa five incisions, mwa mwa mwa shaving muscle, mwa mwa mwa staples…”

I got just enough of the details to realize this was serious stuff, but not so much I’d get scared and want to hang on to my extra eyelid flesh in case I needed it to grow a human ear on a mouse for one of my daughters one day.

This is when I asked to look at Dr. Shleegalbottom’s Before-and-After Pictures. The “Before” patients looked just like…people.  And in their “After” pictures they looked like the same people, only better. And that, judge me as you will, is what I wanted.

Now. How to sneak a substantial amount of money and getting my face jacked up past my husband Henry? He’s one of these annoying You’re-Beautiful-Exactly-As-You-Are husbands. Now how do I get him to change?

I decided to just give it to him straight.

“I saw a guy. I want a brow lift.  I don’t want to brow beat you (no pun intended), but this surgery could be my 45th birthday gift.” (I thought the ‘birthday’ gambit gave me an edge).

I was surprised to discover that Henry wasn’t surprised I wanted to do this. Apparently everything I think in my brain I say out loud with my mouth instantaneously. Huh. I thought I was so discreet and mysterious.

Like Posh Spice.

He hit me below the belt right away. “What kind of message is this going to send to our daughters? I was ready for him, “It says that when they’re 45 they can do whatever they want to their faces. We’ll probably be dead by then anyway.”

Then for good measure I added, “I don’t want to change what I look like, I want to preserve what I already have.”

Henry rolled his eyes. There was no way he was going to pretend I was anything other than one of those guys in Cabo San Lucas who tries to sell you a time-share condominium while you eat the free breakfast and if you don’t buy the condo he kidnaps you and make you live in a box with no latrine until your family shovels out all of your assets. Comprende?

I half-listened as Henry said his piece about all the things that could go wrong and how morally objectionable plastic surgery is.

Then I just looked at him with my droopy eyes.

I could wait this bastard out. He sighed. He fidgeted with the bedspread. He flung himself backwards and thrust his head under two pillow. I began to knit mercilessly. My needles clicking.

Click. Click. Click

Two weeks later Henry found himself sitting next to me in Dr Shleegalbottom’s waiting room staring at all the black-and-blue women with the bolts in their heads. And after a consultation with Dr. Bottom, who Henry grilled like the Nuremberg War Crimes Commission, he grudgingly agreed to let me have the surgery.

But he was annoyed. I cared he was annoyed, but thought eventually he’d see this wasn’t’ a decision made for the wrong reasons: that having plastic surgery wasn’t a sign of insecurity and self-loathing, but actually a gift to myself. Did I deserve this kind of extravagant gift?  I’m not the one to judge. So I made a date with my forceps-and-retractors destiny…

My surgery was scheduled at the exact time my girls needed to get to school in the morning, so it was decided my mother would take me. This perhaps, was a mistake.

Here is a snapshot of our conversation on the drive to Dr. Bottom’s operating theater:

“I can’t believe a daughter of mine is having plastic surgery.”

“I’m your only daughter. Actually, your only child!”

“Because what if it goes all wrong and you end up sneezing through your clitoris. I mean, I would love to have a neck life even though my neck’s fine the way it is, and my crow’s feet could use a few less feet, but I mean, it’s too late for me now…

“It’s not too late, Mom.”

“Why can’t you just accept me the way I am? Why do you have to be so critical?”

“But you were the one who said you wanted…”

“…and the money, it’s so selfish to spend that kind of money on your face…but if I could just get rid of these jowls.  Do you think I have jowls?”

“I’m not answering that…but maybe a little.”

“You think I’m hideous!”

(Smooth subject change) “Was that 21000 Wilshire, Mom?”

“Don’t try to change the subject!”

“You passed the place! Just turn around. Make a u-turn, Mom. U-tuuurrn! Look out for the Orthodox Jew and his family of 12!!”

“Stop screaming at me!”

Sounds of squealing tires. Someone screamed. I think it was me. By the grace of Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat we entered the parking structure without committing manslaughter.

Five minutes and a few ruffled feathers later my mom and I were ushered straight into the OR prep room. My mom kept saying she didn’t understand why her beautiful daughter was having this procedure, after which the nurses all felt obligated to tell me how beautiful I already was, followed by my mom attempting a mini-intervention with the people I’d be paying for the surgery.

This continued until Dr. Bottom arrived and snapped a Polaroid of my eyes. My mother watched the close-up develop then shuddered and gasped, “Maybe you do need this surgery.”

I turned to one of the nurses and said, “Give me the anesthesia, now!” My mom grasped my hand in a dramatic farewell as they wheeled me into surgery.

The last thing I heard before they put me under was my mother keening, “Her eyes were her one beauty…”

Finally, blissfully, I knew no more…

“Shannon. Open your eyes. Open your eyes, Shannon.”

I opened my eyes and saw Dr. Bottom and the anesthesiologist looking down at me. Neither of them could frown due to Botox. Apparently they’d awoken me mid-surgery to make sure my eyes were even so I didn’t end up looking like Marty Feldman.

I wasn’t under general anesthesia because I thought it would be stupid to die from vanity. I had an IV that administered the same kind of anesthesia you get when you have a colonoscopy. Which you get if you have bowels. Which I don’t. I have roses where most people’s bowels are.

The rest of the surgery is a bit of a blur (pun intended). All I remember is waking up a second time in the recovery station – which was basically a draped square, then somehow ending up in my minivan with my mom driving us home in the wrong direction.

I was wearing Betty Ford rehab celebrity sunglasses beginning to sense what kind of hellacious pain I’d feel once the drugs wore off watching through my Rocky-after-Apollo-Creed-kicked-his-ass eye slits as the wrong landmarks went by…

After touring downtown LA, Hollywood, Simi Valley and the entire length of the Pacific Coast Highway we finally arrived home. I’d actually done it. I’d joined the ranks of millions of post-op people I’d felt superior to and judged my whole life. The ravages of time had made me their bitch.

I began a week of lying in bed with frozen peas on my head, a vial of Vicodin in my clutches, wearing my Betty Ford sunglasses so I wouldn’t forever scar my children with the image of me looking like a bloodied James Cameron Avatar.

Clare had no interest in seeing my vanity wounds, but Bridget’s curiosity got the best of her.  On the third day of recovery she cornered me en toilette and demanded to see my eyes.

I told her my face was really scary. She said she could handle it. I removed my sunglasses. I saw her shudder ever-so-slightly in disgust, her pupils shrinking to pinpoints of horror.

“You can put the sunglasses back on, Mommy.”

Later, as I was halfway through the 200-hour first season of In Treatment and wondering why Gabriel Byrne couldn’t have been my shrink, I overhead Bridget and Clare talking in the hallway just outside my bedroom door.

Bridget (scandalized tone): “I saw Mommy’s eyes!”  Clare (Scooby Doo before entering a haunted house). “Was it … scary?”  Bridget (matter-of-fact) “Yeah, but she’s still the same funny Mommy.”

Apparently my sense of humor was still attractive.

Before my surgery, when I asked Dr. Bottom how long it would take before I could show my face in public again he’d assured me that his receptionist Becky, who’d had the same procedure, was back at work after three days.

Let me assure you, had I shown my face in public on day three the villagers would’ve thrown a burlap sack over my head and tossed me into a cage, locked it and poked me with their walking sticks as I screamed, “I am not an animal!” over and over.

I’d say it took about three months before I began to feel less self-conscious. There were times during the healing I was sure I looked like Linda Evans after she had surgery in her quest to keep Yanni.

It also took about three months for Henry’s disgruntlement to wear off. Now, almost three years later, I sometimes forget I’ve had anything done and so does Henry. And very occasionally Henry will admit Dr Bottom did a fantastic job. Which I do not find insulting.

I refused to allow anyone to take pictures of me immediately after the surgery. It’s one thing to blog about having plastic surgery, it’s another thing to send the vomit-uous reality out into the blogosphere.

But I leave you with my own Browlift Before and After pictures. And while I won’t be rushing back under the knife anytime soon (ask me again when I’m 60 and want my neck tied into a knot on top of my head), I hope to die old with a good-looking corpse.

Me “before” looking admittedly healthy and happy, but perhaps not quite vixen-ish.

Me "after" feeling like Zsa Zsa Gabor before she started slapping cops.

Me “after” feeling like Zsa Zsa Gabor before she started slapp

 

 

 



40 comments

Write a comment
  1. Mary Anne
    Mary Anne 27 March, 2013, 12:38

    Oh my GOD you are sooo funny! Loved this post-I need my eyes done and thinking about wrecking my car to get insurance to pay for it….

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 27 March, 2013, 13:18

      Mary you just made me laugh out loud. Please don’t wreck your car. Maybe you could fall into an open construction pit?

      Reply this comment
  2. Karen D. Austin
    Karen D. Austin 27 March, 2013, 12:44

    You tell a great story! I can imagine myself doing the same. But I am scared of any kind of surgery. You were brave, and it all worked out, and you’re happy. Brava! I appreciate your taking the time to let us all tag along for the journey.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 27 March, 2013, 13:18

      after two C-sections I’m like Cool Hand Luke when it comes to surgery.

      Reply this comment
  3. yasmara
    yasmara 27 March, 2013, 12:49

    That is exactly what I want! I just turned 38, but I have inherited droopy eyelids from my Dad’s side of the family & I hate them already – in the last 5 years they have really started to droop. UGH!

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 27 March, 2013, 13:18

      I hate to be the little devil on your shoulder telling you to do it. But I love mine.

      Reply this comment
  4. Sharona Zee
    Sharona Zee 27 March, 2013, 12:58

    age has made me her bitch too…

    Reply this comment
  5. Nicole
    Nicole 27 March, 2013, 13:07

    1. You look BEAUTIFUL!
    2. It never fails. I always get sucked into your posts, then out of nowhere you ROCK MY WORLD by saying something like, “Later, as I was halfway through the 200-hour first season of In Treatment and wondering why Gabriel Byrne couldn’t have been my shrink,” and I fall hopelessly in love with you. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ginger Kay
    Ginger Kay 27 March, 2013, 15:04

    Your mom sounds as funny as you are.

    Reply this comment
  7. Anne (@notasupermom)
    Anne (@notasupermom) 27 March, 2013, 18:34

    I wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint what was different, but it does look good.

    I think this is something I am likely to have done. I’ve seen great results on everyone but Kenny Rogers.

    Reply this comment
  8. Sisters From Another Mister
    Sisters From Another Mister 27 March, 2013, 20:09

    Love this and you know we must be cousins – because clearly our Mothers are related. Mine advocated cooking oil, baby oil and coke for sunbathing, tells me I am beautiful the way I am but then sends me Groupons for filler asking if she needs it, and can I buy them so my Dad doesn’t know …

    Reply this comment
  9. Angela @Momopolize
    Angela @Momopolize 28 March, 2013, 07:41

    You had me at the title. Loved every word of this.

    I used to say I’d never consider plastic surgery…but the older I get, I never say never to anything. 😀

    Stopping by from the blog hop!

    http://momopolize.com/2013/03/28/lying-about-our-age-ladies-weve-been-doing-it-all-wrong/

    Reply this comment
  10. Pam Houghton
    Pam Houghton 28 March, 2013, 12:10

    Wow, that was great. You must be a television writer – or something! Great material, great writing. You DID look great before, though. 🙂 I need to get my neck done.

    Reply this comment
  11. Beverly Diehl
    Beverly Diehl 28 March, 2013, 19:36

    Funny, funny! You have assets I don’t – a mom to drive you to surgery, a nice hubs to pay for it, and impressionable children at home to scare afterwards. It would *almost* be worth borrowing the kids to scare, that sounds like fun. Love the way you tell the story, and i think you look Fabulous.

    Reply this comment
    • geminishele
      geminishele 12 July, 2016, 17:51

      Omg you look FAbuLOUS! And I want it, need it, have to have it! Your before could be my twin, well a close cousin anyway, I hate taking pictures now because I feel like I’m always squinting. I can’t believe the amazing results, beautiful stunning! I did do the ole boob jobber, at 30, wasn’t bad at all, in fact because I could milked a couple extra days off but it was no more than 3 days of achiness. But a brow lift eek…I can be a wuss…so you didn’t say, how long was the vicadin drip attached to your lips?

      Reply this comment
  12. Helene Cohen Bludman
    Helene Cohen Bludman 30 March, 2013, 16:41

    Guess what? I did the exact same surgery when I was about 50. People were always asking me if I was tired — the same droopy eyelids. I am so glad I had it done.

    Reply this comment
  13. caryl
    caryl 2 April, 2013, 13:15

    I LOL’d. I’m too chicken to go under the knife, so I’m sticking with tape on my crows feet.
    Cheers,
    Caryl

    Reply this comment
  14. Catt
    Catt 8 April, 2013, 17:11

    The whole thing was hilarious but your second to last paragraph made me laugh ’til I cried! You look wonderful, thanks for sharing this in your own wonderful words!

    Reply this comment
  15. Jackie
    Jackie 6 June, 2014, 01:38

    Love all your posts about what to do?? Wish I was as lucky as you with PSurgeons, I also live I’m Los Angeles and everything wrong on my face is from bad Plastic surgeons stuff..:(
    I just had my nose supposedly fixed last January 20-4, and there is a lump on my nose now from my bone sort of jarring up , where I used to have a perfect profile :(‘,,,,,, thx to. Dr. Robert Hutcherson in , Bev hills..he (says) he will fix it for me but help I was sorta kinda an actress and this stuff is TIMe consuming….well I could go on and on about my cursed PS stories. But WTF.. Xoxo

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 6 June, 2014, 11:08

      Hi Jackie — well that’s a pain. That’s the most difficult thing, if you decide to have “work” done, is to find someone who is really really good. And I guess it can still be a crapshoot. Mine was Dr. Jonathan Hoenig in Beverly Hills and he’s renowned for eye and brow lifts. People fly in from other countries to use him, so he really did an excellent job. I’m not in a rush to do anything else for quite a while. In my 60s I might do something to the old neck. But of course caution and conservativism are best. Sorry about your nose. Maybe you should have a second opinion before having the same doc fix his mistake??

      Reply this comment
  16. Elaine Plummer
    Elaine Plummer 2 July, 2014, 04:41

    So funny! I cared for a friend who had the same procedure. She too had droopy eyelids that “impacted her peripheral vision”. While resolving that, she had a brow lift. She looks fabulous, as do you. I now look like her mother. Only satisfaction for me, other than helping a dear friend, is that the doctor said her post op care was excellent.

    Reply this comment
  17. Mandy
    Mandy 2 July, 2014, 07:49

    I love how honest you are! And you do look refreshed. Still you. But well rested. I feel the same way about Botox. Here’s to being in your 40s, looking great, and being honest about how you got to look so great!

    Mandy, who is currently 43.

    Reply this comment
  18. ShoibMyint
    ShoibMyint 7 October, 2014, 05:07

    A browlift, also called a forehead lift, is one of the most common cosmetic procedures preformed today. This is because browlifts have the ability to improve deep forehead wrinkles and furrows that can make a person appear angry or sad.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 7 October, 2014, 13:14

      Also it took about five years off of my face. I have absolutely no regrets.

      Reply this comment
  19. Jen
    Jen 22 October, 2014, 21:20

    Hi Shannon, great story as always! I’ve sent a few friends your way because I enjoy reading your stuff so much. You make me feel SO much better about life in my late 40’s… I was just wondering, was this eyelid thing done before or after you had the Ultherapy? I’m not in a financial position to do the eyelids right now, but the Ultherapy (needed on my neck!) may be a possibility. I’m wondering if you’re still happy with the results from it?? I’ll take my answer off the air……

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 23 October, 2014, 10:16

      Hey Jen — I had the browlift a couple of years before Ultherapy. I didn’t realize I’d had some results from the Ultherapy until I had another after picture take more than 18 months later. I could definitely see a result, but you should know it’s subtle. And because you see yourself every day in the mirror you may not notice a change. Sorry to be sort of vague, but Ultherapy is a lot of money so you have to know your change will be subtle.

      Reply this comment
  20. Amanda Justice
    Amanda Justice 5 December, 2014, 14:34

    You are awesome — thank you for this. I laughed out loud, and next I’m sending it to my husband. Life is too short to spend standing in front of the mirror, holding my face back, and wondering how bad it would be to try the stapler.

    Reply this comment
  21. Carm
    Carm 24 March, 2015, 11:41

    Hey Shannon, I just saw this old post and have a few questions: did you have endoscopic lift or std? what was the recovery like? were you swollen/bruised for long? did you get a local anesthesia? Approx. cost? How soon after did you see the true results? How long after were you able to be out in public -like, looking normal for an event? THANKS!!

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 24 March, 2015, 12:05

      Hey Carmen – I think I had the endoscopic lift but I can’t be entirely sure as it was 5 years ago. Here’s what I remember, the pain was manageable with pain meds given. The swelling and bruising were far worse than the doctor said they would be and for about two weeks I wondered what the hell I’d done to myself. I really didn’t feel comfortable having anyone look at my face those first two weeks and I’d say it was at least six weeks before I didn’t feel super self-conscious. It takes a lot longer for the swelling to go down and things to normalize than doctors like to tell you. I didn’t really love my results until about three months out. But I do love them and am glad I had the procedure. I went to THE BEST eye doctor in L.A.so my cost was high, $7,000. But we had the disposable income at the time and it’s my face, after all. I hope this helps.

      Reply this comment
      • Carm
        Carm 8 April, 2015, 12:28

        Thanks for the info!. NYC best docs ask $12,-$15,000. I guess the prices have gone up! I def. don’t have 6 weeks to look “normal”. I’m shopping for a doc that won’t use endotine-I don’t want them in my body (they’re the small clips that dissolve in the scalp, they act as a holder until the tissue takes over & binds it) other options are the deep placed disolvable sutures & or they drill into the bone & attach w/sutures. Or, the full open lift where they cut across the forehead at the hairline. Which one did you have because it sounds like your recovery was for the open one (across the entire upper forehead) Also, if you didn’t have the open one,do your scars show in the hair/scalp and was wondering how big the scars are/how many holes?. I’m looking to do a mini-temporal lift (at the outer edges, which is all ea. doc when I consulted said I needed. Your brows look great, btw. Thanks for answering! & hopefully I won’t have to bother you again! (I just don’t know anyone who’s had it done and my brows are descending faster than my IPO stocks! 🙂

        Reply this comment

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