Jane Fonda and the 'too far' facelift

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Jane Fonda - H&M
Jane Fonda - H&M

Sometimes when I turn on the TV to watch a new show starring any one of my favorite actors, I get a real shock. “Hold on,” I find myself thinking, ‘Is it me, or has their jawbone just grown three inches wider?”

Welcome to the world of the ‘too far face’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a tweak, nip, tuck and even a well-researched facelift when the time is right, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. In our house these ‘too far’ celebrities are known as (sorry, Madonna): “The artist formerly known as….”

In a recent interview with American Vogue Jane Fonda, the 85-year-old star of Grace & Frankie, said that women should not fear ageing. Admitting that she’d had a facelift, but has stopped having ‘work’ done because she doesn’t want to look “distorted”, I say three cheers for her honesty.

Jane Fonda in 1970 vs 1989 - Gamma-Rapho
Jane Fonda in 1970 vs 1989 - Gamma-Rapho

No matter what I think of Fonda’s face, which has increasingly looked a little ‘overdone’ as the years have gone by, I admire her openness about a topic so few are happy to talk about.

Like so many actresses in Hollywood, Fonda's looks have always been held in the same regard as her talent, and for stars like her, having a facelift is standard procedure. She allegedly had a full facelift in her 40s, with a second one in her 70s followed by a chin lift and eye surgery to address the bags underneath her eyes. The fact that she is willing to admit that she feels she might have gone too far is something we should all applaud.

Like Fonda, I had a facelift. Mine was in my early 50s – eight years ago - and it was a lower facelift. And I too was open about it. I could easily have fallen into the ‘too far’ category. I was at an age when I felt vulnerable and like Fonda - to a lesser degree - from childhood, my looks had always been a passport to a certain kind of affirmation.

Fonda during 1996 vs 2006 - Getty Images
Fonda during 1996 vs 2006 - Getty Images

I remember going to see a surgeon on Harley Street who told me I needed a full facelift and booked me in for the following week. He looked terrifying, with his huge lips and stretched face, and yet I would have laid down on his desk to let him do it then and there if I could have. It was only once I got home that I came to my senses, realising that if I was to do this I had to really research and find the right people who had my best interests at heart.

In my case I turned to Olivia Falcon, a former Conde Nast beauty editor and founder of The Editor’s List. Her years of experience as a beauty editor has given her access to the best practitioners in the beauty business. She advises her clients on the best surgeons and tweakers and accompanies them on the appointments.

Fonda 2018 vs 2022 - Getty
Fonda 2018 vs 2022 - Getty

And if she feels they are overdoing it, she is the first to tell them. “Cosmetic procedures can be addictive. The classic mistake is that people get greedy and keep wanting that ‘feelgood’ fix. My job is to guide them to the best.”  It is in Falcon’s best interest to have clients who look great.

Falcon sent me to see Dr Rajiv Grover. He told me he could take ten years off my face – and he did. Grover has a very light, elegant touch, and is known for telling women to go away and come back in five years.

He says “These days there is such amazing work that can be done structurally to the face using fillers to replace the loss of bone density and fat, that women can put off going under the knife for at least ten years longer than in the past.” Did I look better after my operation? Yes. Did I feel better? Yes. Did it solve all my problems? No! Absolutely not.

A friend of mine, smart, talented, beautiful and successful, tells me that whenever she feels low she makes an appointment for a little ‘feel-better tweak’. We joke that her car goes into automatic and takes her to a clinic.

I inform my friend, looking at her face that no longer moves, that the cheekbones jut out like shelves and that she has gone too far. I’m brutally honest and say hers is not a doctor I would trust, but one who makes money from women having a low moment. She doesn’t like me telling her, but I know she listens. What kind of real friend wouldn’t be honest?

Even I, who believes I have a handle on these things can go too far. Recently I had a tiny bit of what was supposed to be a light hydrating filler put into my lips. A few days later my son said, “Mum, what is going on with your lips?“ They were really puffy and I had a shelf on top. I sprinted to the doctor and had them dissolved. Thank God for good kids...

I am the last person to say don’t tweak. But I strongly advise anyone thinking about having anything major to do your research, take advice and remember that doing too much is not your friend. It’s like having body odour. You will be the last person in the room to know.

The Editor’s List

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