Mom,  Spines & Livers & Bones, Oh My!,  Suffering for Beauty

Here Comes Forty

I inherited my mom’s shapely legs.  Every year I won the award for “Best Looking Legs” at the high school dance team’s gala.  On its face that’s a superficial award.  However, for a teenager who had spent the previous years wearing a variety of back braces and still required spine surgery for scoliosis, it was thrilling to recognize that there was something attractive about my scarred body.

When I was pregnant, I acquired another of my mom’s traits, but this one wasn’t so alluring.  Purplish spider veins popped out on my legs, with a big clump located over my left knee.  This area was tender to touch and I looked like Bill had been beating me in odd places.

“No worries,” said my ever-cheerful mother.  “I have a doctor who can zap those suckers with a little saline and they’ll be gone!”

I resisted at first.  Wasn’t I supposed to love my body as it is: big feet, tiny bosoms, fireplug nipples, scar from neck to crack, and battered looking legs?  Shouldn’t I wear those veins proudly as pregnancy souvenirs?

“Are you high?”  my mom asked.  “I’m making you an appointment with Dr. P immediately.”

And she did, and I went, and after a couple of visits and the humiliation of wearing constrictive orthopedic pantyhose for a week or so, my spectacular legs had returned.

Over the last eight years, I’ve dealt with some serious shit– the hepatitis C treatment, the second spine surgery to correct problems caused by the first, my mother’s unexpected death.  These events may be irrelevant.  Maybe it’s just the passage of time that added veins and splotches on my face that drove me insane.  There was one red blotch on the side of my nose that I covered with concealer every morning for years.  I named it “Perpetu-Zit” although it wasn’t a zit at all.

Whatever the reason, the blemishes were bothering me enough that I booked an appointment with Dr. P and told him to take care of things.  I may be less than a month from being forty, but I’d prefer to look thirty-five.

Dr. P lasered here and there and sure enough, the splotches, including Perpetu-Zit, disappeared.  It’s cheered me up, plus I figure I’m saving a fortune on concealer.

You may consider me vain. Or not.

What would you do or refuse to do to your body?  I’m particularly interested in knowing about your experiences with Lasik.  As someone who’s worn glasses or contacts since the Bicentennial, I’m about ready for some peepers that work.


  • Laura

    My husband had it done 4 years ago and loves it- except that he has this weird side effect that makes any lights look like they have haloes around them (like when he drives in the dark). He may still need reading glasses, but he’s 40 and so far he’s good- and he’s a big old whiney baby so he’d let me know if it wasn’t working out for him.

    What *wouldn’t* I do? Hell, if I had the cash I’d probably repair all of the damage from babies and nachos and birthdays, but I don’t think I’d change much else. Except my ears- I might have something done about those. I look like Barack Obama when I have my hair pulled back.

  • liz

    I’m waiting for the Lasik that cures near vision and far vision. I went for the consult and found out I would lose the reading vision that I already have and so opted against it. I can read just fine if I take my contacts out but can’t see anything farther away than 2 ft. I have tried monovision contacts numerous times and my brain can’t handle it so I’m not going to get surgery to have that kind of vision. I think I waited too long. I should have had the surgery before reading glasses issues popped up.

    If surgery were free and painless, I’d have a little lipo and maybe a breast lift. I’m not overweight, just a little “loose”. Maybe some laser hair removal too since I’m too blind to shave in the shower.

  • Chandra

    I have an astigmatism so I see halos around lights as it is! I’m just waitin for the right price to have Lasik! I would also love a tummy tuck for pure vanity 🙂 Probably the only thing I wouldn’t do is gastric bypass because I love to eat too much. Thank heavens it’s not something I need right now!

  • Aimee

    There are a few things I’d like to correct. It’s a tie between Lasik (I can relate… have had glasses since the 3rd grade and am almost legally blind without them) and getting my teeth straight. The older I get, the worse they get. Or maybe it’s starting to bother me. Nah, they really are crowding worse than before.

    If I had enough money, I would eventually make my boobs what I’ve always wanted them to be: together. Even though I’m in my 20’s, I’ve never had a cleavage. Mine are like sad, droopy bags that sag to the sides. That’s why I love VS “shelf” bras. It would be nice to have round, perky bosoms. I’ve never known what that is like.

    Anyway, while they’re in there, I wouldn’t mind them taking a little bit of cellulite out. Why not, right?

  • Buf

    I had Lasik 5 or so years ago and love it!! Best move I made. I didn’t really have any side effects other than dry eyes for awhile, but I had those with contacts anyway.

    As for other procedures, I don’t really see any in my future except it I lose all the weight I need to and end up have excess skin hanging around. That would definitely have to go because if I actually manage to lose 100+ lbs I want to look like I did. 🙂 My theory in regards to all this stuff, if you can afford it and it makes you feel more comfortable in your own skin, go for it.

  • Leeny

    Anne! I highly recommend lasik! Really, I do! I had it done in 1999 and have never regretted it. I do get the halo effect with lights at night also, but it’s not something I can’t live without. It was worse after the surgery but it’s not as bad now. I’m 49 so I may need reading glasses but we’ll see. My eyesight was so bad before and I wore glasses and contacts since I was 9 years old. I LOVE being able to go swimming or wake up in the middle of the night and being able to see all on my own!

    When I was a young adult I used to think that I would get a boob job but now I don’t care anymore. I still take pride in how I look and I take care of myself but I can live with that part of myself now. My sister, on the other hand, had a tummy tuck and boob job a couple of years ago (she’s now 44). Her first pregnancy when she was young stretched out her stomach muscles really bad and after four children (and a still birth and a miscarriage) and nursing the babes she felt her body was a wreck. She totally looks so wonderful now with a fantastic figure. Her self-esteem has soared but the operation was extremely painful and it took months of recovery.

    Good luck with your decision, Anne!

  • Jeanne

    I’m personally a bit squeamish about the lasik thing. I’ll stick to glasses, thank you.

    As for other stuff…I would not get much done but I do have a large red ‘dot’ on my forehead (that I cover with bangs) that I’ve often contemplated getting removed. I assume it could be lasered off or something but I’ve never asked or gotten a consult. I’m not sure what it is exactly but it’s been there for quite a number of years and really bugs me!!

  • Karin Blue

    I am very nearsighted and got my first pair of glasses at 9. I have been using contacts for a long time. My priscription has been adjusted so that I don’t need reading glasses (I think they call it monovision, they do it by reducing the strength in one eye) and I am doing very well with them. My eyedoctor was very nearsighted as well, and he was never able to wear contacts. He had Lasik and it worked for him. However,he does need reading glasses. He also told me that there have been some people who have not been as lucky with Lasik and have not gotten the results they expected. Some have to use contacts or glasses ayway. As long as I can use my contacts I’m happy. In fact, I have been looking for some beautiful designer frames lately so I can wear glasses whenever I don’t want to fool with eye make-up. My son has extended wear contacts, he replaces them once a month. That helpes when he goes camping or spends the night at friends’ houses.Sometimes he takes them out more often, but not often.

  • Kelly

    I don’t need the lasik, but there are plenty of other things I’d like to do. At the top of the list, some serious work on my facial skin — I’m too young for it to look so old! — followed by breast-reduction surgery and some strategic liposuction. (Diet and exercise — feh.) I dream about a nose job, but I don’t think I have the guts to go through with it.

  • mom2ameliaB

    I’ve dreamed of Lasik for years, but it’s always been so cost-prohibitive. Any attempts we’ve made to save for it have been sabatoged by issues like the dryer dying or my husband needing a new car to drive the 115 miles one-way to work everyday. As for other procedures, I’d never have gastric-bypass even though I qualify. I’d feel too much like I failed myself. I’ll just stick to working out and eating better. I would, however, give in to having a chemical peel done on my face. I have pores on my nose that are so deep it appears as though someone has poked me over and over with a straight pin. Anything else I’ll just stick to never saying “never” because my aunt went in 15 years ago for “just a little lipo” and has since had so many nips and tucks she looks better than she did at my age, which is 33 (she’s 53).

  • Audrey

    I will, someday when I’m done having children, probably have a boob job. Not to make them unnaturally large, just to make them look good and provide me with the cleavage I’ve had while pregnant. (It’s amazing how much better shirts fit and v-necks look!)

    I wouldn’t be opposed to a little lipo or tummy-tuck, either, if I can’t get back to some resemblance of a pre-baby tummy…

  • Peeved Michelle

    I had the Lasik and LOVE it. I, too, get slight halos around lights at night, but it is so minor that it still makes the surgery totally worth it. Plus, if you get the “wavefront custom Lasik” or something like that, it is supposed to reduce your chances of getting the halos. Really, it just looks like there is a little moisture in the air causing all the lights to look like they are being romantic with each other.

    As far as what else I would do, if ever necessary, I would get a tummy tuck. I would possibly get liposuction, but seeing the procedure done grosses me out to no end, so I would possibly chicken out of that one. I plan on getting some sort of laser treatment on my face to improve the texture and lighten scars from old breakouts. I say that I would never get Botox but that is only because, with my oily skin, I am still wrinkle-free. Who knows if I would change my mind on that one in ten or twenty years.

  • Peeved Michelle

    Oh, and this is how I got my Lasik for half-price, in case this will help anyone out:
    I signed up for the flexible spending account at the beginning of the year (for most companies, that benefit is on calendar year, not necessarily during your regular open enrollment) and had them deduct $3000 for the surgery. With flexible spending, they take out the money over the entire year, but you are eligible for the full benefit after the first deduction. I had my surgery in April and left my company in May. By then, a little less than half the amount had been deducted from my paychecks, and I didn’t have to pay back the rest that had already been spent on my surgery. The reason employers limit the amount you can deduct for flexible spending accounts is because they are faced with the risk of loss, as in my case. I didn’t plan on leaving my company, but the half price surgery was a nice parting gift nonetheless.

  • Fiona

    Both hubby and sis-in-law got lasik surgery about two years ago. She’s had no problems whatsoever (they did the more common slice method). But because hubby has thin lens, they had to do the other more complicated method (where chemicals do the “cutting”) and he’s had issues with chronic dry eye ever since. It’s getting better though; or at least I’m no longer finding little bottles of Systane eye drops in his pockets when I do laundry. His vision is a-ok, and he’s happy to be free of contact lenses/glasses. Me? I’ll stick with my glasses, thanks. Can’t even muster the courage to attach little wet thingies to my eyeballs!

  • Leslie

    I had lasik almost 3 years ago and it was absolutely worth it. It took me about a year to get used to not having to take out contacts at night and being able to see when I woke up in the morning. If you do it, go to Michaelson. I believe he’s done more than anyone else in town and you definitely want someone with lots of experience. My only regret was waiting as long as I did to get it done.

  • KLee

    I wear glasses, but really only for night driving and really far distances. I don’t need lasik, and I wouldn’t get it, because I’m a serious weenie about my eyes.

    Stuff I WOULD have done — I would have my teeth whitened in a New York minute. Other than that, I think I will just deal with what God gave me. I can’t see spending all that money for something like that. But that’s just me.

  • sdw034

    I dream of having a boob job, but if it ever came down to it, I would probably chicken out…tummy tuck too (darn 10 lb. babies tend to do a number on your body). If lasik is too frightening, my daughter’s eye doctor was telling me about something similar to contacts that you wear while sleeping and then take out in the morning and you see fine all day. Not sure if they’re for near or far sighted (or both) but it sounded very interesting. I have a friend that had lasik and instead of wearing glasses to see distances he now needs them to see close up…and a girlfriend has the halo effect that others are talking about.

  • Jenna

    I don’t need Lasik but my uncle Marshall had it a couple years ago. His has been the only bad experience I have heard of. He went blind in one of his eyes and has not as of yet recovered his sight in it. The doctors feel that after this long with no recovery it is doubtful it will ever return. Mind you I know a lot of other people who had it with little or no problems. So I guess it is luck of the draw.

    As for surgeries on me.. Breast reduction and lift would be most appreciated. I have debated gastric bypass as I qualify but just can’t get excited about it. I am planning on going in for laser hair removal. The beard and mustache hairs are better then my husband can grow and that is beginning too gross me out:)

  • PeanutButtersMum

    As for the surgeries, etc, it’s such an individual thing: to each her own!

    I just read about your mom’s death. My mom died as a result of her ovarian cancer. It doesn’t matter how we lost them though, it hurts no matter the circumstances. Nothing can prepare us for the loss.

    My best wishes to you!

  • Suburban Turmoil

    Hmm. I have a perpetu-zit I’d like to get rid of too. I would totally consider getting a boob job, too, when I’m older. I think women in their 40s with (tastefully done) perky boob jobs that I see at the gym look great- years younger.

  • Shawn

    If you take your glasses off to read, don’t get Lasik. According to my eye doctor, that means that I’d have to put glasses on to read if I had the surgery. No thanks.

    I am thinking about having some laser work done on my face. Eventually. Also, if I get super rich I want veneers on my teeth and a Hollywood smile.

  • tiff

    I’m in year 34 and the signs of aging are starting to set in more and more. I’m going to have to start coloring my hair asap. I’m hoping to have another baby sometime in the next year or so, but after that, I’m open to anything and everything that I can afford, which right now is nothing. Depressing. I feel like only the wealthy people can afford to stay young looking. And as a stay-at-home mom living in the Tiny Kingdom, I’m not exactly hurting for cash, but there doesn’t seem to be any left over for expensive creams,peels and procedures.

  • Vanessa

    I used to think I’d get a boob job, but these days I feel all right about the ones I’ve got. I would get a chin implant — I’m very self-conscious about my slightly weak chin and put a hand over it whenever I can to conceal it.

  • Kathy

    I’d love to get rid of the “twin skin” on my belly. I don’t really need a full blown tummy tuck, just the skin to go away! Had my teeth whitened last year. Love it! I seriously needed it and just kept putting it off. My Dad handed me the cash for my birthday last year and said that was what it HAD to be used for!

  • Traci

    Hmmm, I would undo the belly that was done in by 2 c-sections and 4 other surgeries. And I would get my boobs upgraded (which means downsized) and lifted into something perky.
    Sliding (against my will kicking and screaming the entire time) onto the high side of 35 next week. Sigh….

  • jenny32

    Just one vampire tooth, the rest are lovely, I’m too squeamish for body surgery and theres nothing that couldnt be cured by less sugar and more excersise in my case!

  • Loren

    My fiancé’s mother had lasik surgery many many years ago, but the procedure is reversing itself. She’s pretty much blind as a bat now. I doubt this would be the result for everyone, but just an FYI.

    I am far too young to think about reversing the effects of aging. If I could do anything, though, I would get rid of my 10 million spider veins (they’re all over! I get them so easily 🙁 ) and remove the huge mole on my right shoulder. It always catches on my bra straps, and that hurts like hell.

  • Karin Blue

    I forgot to mention earlier what I would do to my body. I would have surgery to save my life, or my baby’s life. I also would have surgery to eliminate joint pain. As far as getting my boobs perky to please other women in the locker room…I dont’t think so…my husband thinks I look good without a tummy tuck.

  • Sloppy Chest

    I wear contacts because I can’t stand the way glasses slide around and being a busy mom, I don’t need my vision to slide off of my nose. I would love to have lasik, and will do so as soon as I pay some things off.

    I have been working out like a feind since I gave birth. However my boobs are like oranges in nylons. And I have a heavily insulated six-pack. I work out a lot, I know there is muscle in there, I see it. So when I am done having children, I will have a breast lift. I will have my sloppy boobies moved up 2 feet to their original location, and then have a tumy tuck.

    I like my body, but I really want to love it again. And I know it’s vain and I don’t want to look like a model, but I am only 30 years old, and my body looks like my mothers at 60 ( I only know because she showed me, against my will). And it looks like this with working out 5 days a week. I don’t care what other people think, and my husband loves my national geographic boobies just the way they are, but I would feel so much better, if I didn’t have to fold my boobs into a push-up bra to make them look normal.

    Small problem in comparison to what is going on in the world,but if we are wishing here….. 🙂

    I don’t see anything wrong with little improvements here and there, if that is what you want. It’s your body and you are entitled to do with it as you see fit.

  • Karyn

    Oh my. First thing to go would be the genetic inheritances, in this order: the weak jaw (read, double chin, no matter how much weight i lose), batwing arms (again, no matter how much weight i lose) and poochy belly (you guessed it – not budging). Lasik is REALLY appealing but my occular aversion stops me in my tracks. I like having glasses; great accessories. And lastly… I’d like my breasts put back where they used to be. In the SIZE they used to be. (Reduction. We are so. Talking. Reduction.)

    Ah well. Wishin’ ain’t gettin’ and that stuff is expensive. I’m sure you look fabulous; but then, I thought you looked pretty fabulous before.

  • Jana Goodwin

    I would do lasik in a split second–but unfortunately it doesn’t work for age degeneration (yet!) but I will be first in line when they finally can correct the gift of blindness I received the minute I turned 40! I have had many friends have lasik surgery who have worn glasses for years, and they all agree it was the best money they’ve ever spent—so if it will work for you, I definitely say GO FOR IT!!!

  • Kimarie

    I’m with many others who said “what wouldn’t I fix, if I had the resources to do it with!” I would have something done for my skin, as it’s acne prone (even though I’m almost 30) and very sensitive. My hair is brittle and breaking from the roots on down. My chest, well, let’s just say I COMPLETELY understand your posts on breasts Anne 😉 Then there’s baby fat….from having babies a few years ago that I still have not lost. The list goes on and on.

    I don’t know that I would refuse any treatment to my body, if money were not an issue 🙂

    I’m also with the other posters who have said that you are beautiful either way. I say go for it if you can and want to, and if you don’t, you’ll still look glamorous 🙂

  • Karyn

    Okay, thank you for this – now my mind keeps revisiting this idea…. what WOULD I do?

    I forgot! I would botox the living hell out of my forehead in an attempt to vanquish the wrinkles there which can be seen from frickin’ space.

    Midline face lift! To remove! Nasal-Labial crease! (That’s not as dirty as it sounds…)

    Teeth! Straightened! Whitened! A couple removed! Generally fixed!

    And then, I think I’m really done.




  • sherry

    I will turn 40 in October. I still think I look good, still wear a size 6. I use to wish for bigger boobs but now and glad the little girls didn’t sag. I would love to treat myself to having my veins removed from my legs. Today is my second day without cigarettes thanks to this tack in my right ear. As Joan Rivers would say you preform regular maintaince on your car why not your body. I think as long as your not trying to be someone or something your not why not improve yorself.

    Beauty at any age is worth the pain….maybe?

    keep on writting, I love your blog! sher

  • Jamie

    I’ll be 38 in August and I think I look pretty damn decent for approaching 40. Cough…especially since I’m not exercising regularly. I can barely squeeze in a size 6 (but I’m barely 5 ft. 2 and I’ve always been quasi petite.) Oh Lord am I lazy. Any way, I too have the fugly spider veins, particularly on my right leg, and have often thought of having them zapped. The only other thing I’ve pondered is Lasik but it kind of scares me! Plus it’s not in our budget right now. I can live with my boobs as long as I”m wearing a decent bra.

    We’re going to join the new Y in the hood this summer when our daycare costs go down and I’m hoping to get rid of the jigglies. 😉