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Doctor searches for evidence that plastic surgery produces youth, beauty

Dan Restione before and after his appearance on "Extreme Makeover" (left and center) and Dan Restione in 2012 (right.) (AP Photo/File)

It’s a huge industry in the U.S. and it’s all based on the idea that you’ll look younger and better than ever before.

The pitch is sometimes subtle and sometimes not, with ads and TV shows that boast, “Dreams really do come true! A dream transformed into a miracle!”

Ten years ago, I bought it hook, line, and scalpel. I was 40, plain and plump, and I’d fallen hard for a lovely lady. So I signed up for the TV show “Extreme Makeover.”

What I didn’t know then – couldn’t know – is just how much plastic surgery actually delivers on dreams of youth and beauty. Dr. Joshua Zimm of New York noticed the lack as well.

“There wasn’t a lot of data in the scientific literature that looked at any sort of objective measurement to determine whether [plastic surgeons] were effecting age and/or attractiveness,” says Zimm.

So Zimm did a small survey using before and after pictures. He released his results this week.

In terms of youth? “We did see an overall reduction in age of about 3.1 years,” says Zimm.

But what about beauty? “There wasn’t a statistically significant improvement in attractiveness,” he says.

So: You pay big money and the “miracle” is you look a few years younger, but not more attractive. Zimm admits this is a small survey and not the last word on the practical effects of plastic surgery, but it fits perfectly with my experience.

After surgeries, six weeks of bandages, and a dentist visit so excruciatingly painful I tore the armrest off the chair and had to be sedated, I didn’t get the girl. I didn’t get any other girls. My new teeth started to break, my cheekbones sank back out of sight, and the fat they liposuctioned out of me was quickly replaced. My chin implant is still in there, but it’s not a huge selling point on the romance market.

It’s a far cry from the promises of the TV show doctors.

Now, Dr. Zimm says prospective patients do have other motives. “They don’t want to look as tired, they don’t want to look angry, they don’t want to look as sad.”

Good luck with that because you know what makes me look tired, sad, and angry, doc? Going through surgery and reality TV hell to look 37 and-a-half instead of 40 and not getting the girl.

I’m just saying…

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