Divorce rates in the United States are higher than any other developed country in the world. Statistics suggest that nearly half of all marriages will result in divorce. According to life-stress scales, divorce only trails the death of a spouse as the most traumatic time in a person’s life. (Holmes TH, 1967) Nearly 67% of second marriages and 75% of third marriages will end in dissolution, making divorce nearly epidemic in modern society.
Stress has long been a major factor in the process of aging, and this combined with a difficult divorce, infidelity, personal neglect, lack of sleep and maintaining small children or a full-time job surely accelerates this process.
In my plastic surgery practice, I regularly see patients who decide to undergo surgical procedures relating to major events in their lives; both positive and negative. These are routinely a wedding, an upcoming class reunion, after the birth of a child (commonly termed “mommy makeover“), and frequently after a divorce.
I think this last area is quite significant and under-reported.
Many women (and men) neglect themselves when a relationship turns sour. So much emphasis is spent on trying to make it work, fighting, apologizing and attending to children during this process that most individuals overlook themselves. Simultaneously, the stress itself will result in weight loss or gain, poor skin quality and lack of adequate hydration, “bags” appearing under the eyes or merely a generalized “tired” appearance.
After the divorce is finalized, the former combatants emerge as tired, aged, figments of their former selves. There can be a significant emotional relief with the finalizing of the divorce, the fights have ended, a new routine has been established, and child visitation is arranged, but the physical damage has already taken its toll.
Fortunately, after the split, there is new-found time to re-dedicate to oneself. So much of a divorcee’s energy had previously been outwardly directed at making the marriage “work,” that many of my patients don’t know where to begin. Reentering the dating scene, looking for a new job after many years away, or just tired of looking “tired” are all reasons that patients enter my office after divorce. I rarely see this as an act of revenge, as much as an act of restoring oneself and repairing the damage done. Patients need an extra boost of confidence and self-esteem when reentering the harsh realities of dating and job interviews.
Since divorce spans many generations, the “divorce makeover” isn’t one or two specific procedures, but the restoration of a “new you.” This process can range from fillers and Botox for the younger divorcee to a breast augmentation or tummy tuck for those who have lost weight to stress to even a full face and neck lift. The specifics need to be discussed in detail with you and your board-certified plastic surgeon as to what you need, want or can afford. I see this as the surgical and non-surgical rejuvenation of areas worn down by stress, sleepless nights or a generalized lack of enjoyment in life.
As much as we change the exterior of a patient with plastic surgery, where we can truly make a difference is with the associated emotional boost or restoration of self-confidence that goes along with feeling that you look “good.” Studies have shown that most women experience a significant decrease in their stress levels after divorce, relating to the lack of continual worry regarding marital issues. The “wrong” relationship not only results in unfavorable physical appearance, but there is a progressive loss of self-confidence relating to abuse, lack of support or just no one telling you “you’re beautiful” on a regular basis. Plastic surgery doesn’t change who you are, but it can help you become who you were meant to be. We want the surgical result to “reflect the beauty within” and help you develop the confidence to achieve the goals you have set out for you and your children. I commonly see patients using these life-changing events as motivation to do something they have always considered.
Not Only for Women
Making changes to one’s appearance is not for women only. We are also seeing a number of men who suffer the same ill effects as women during stressful events in their lives. Men can gain or lose weight, show the stress in their faces and eyes or even just need a simple filler or Botox. Men will not only be reentering the dating world but often have additional financial responsibilities sometimes necessitating a new job or even career change.
Stress is not gendered specific and will affect both spouses negatively through the difficult process of a contentious divorce.
Divorce is one of the most devastating life stressors one can experience. Although your appearance can often take a back seat to the realities of life as a single parent, it can make a major difference in helping you get back on your feet and into the game. A “divorce makeover” is designed to give you the self-confidence to proudly take that first step and start the first day of the next phase of your life.
*The content in this blog is developed to spread the awareness towards plastic surgery. Our blog is not intended to serve as a replacement for an actual in-office consultation with Dr. Marin. As such, the information within this blog reflects the unique cases of our individual patients.