LA Times: Cosmetic Couples — New you? New us!

By Laurie Drake — Special to the Los Angeles Times

The windows of the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon’s office face west, which means that an afternoon consultation shines a particularly bright light on any imperfections, real or imagined.

When Cheryl Palmer, a 62-year-old real estate agent, came for a consultation, she sat before a triptych mirror and showed plastic surgeon Toby Mayer what was bothering her: a jaw line that had gone south, sagging upper eyelids, thinning lips and pucker lines.

Her husband, Cliff Palmer, 61, a school psychologist, leafed through a big album of befores-and-afters. He was just here for emotional support. But after Mayer explained what he could do for Cheryl, who had been contemplating surgery for several years, the subject turned to Cliff, a lean, muscular man who was accustomed to jogging five miles a day on the couple’s horse ranch in Montana. Mayer took what he calls his “fancy Armani pointer” (a Q-Tip) and traced the deep nose-to-mouth lines on Cliff’s face.

“We can remove these, which would be a great improvement,” Mayer said. And sooner than you could say “consent form,” Cliff had signed on for excision of those lines and, while the doctor was at it, a forehead lift and a hair transplant.

In consultation rooms across the country, husbands who just come along for the ride are finding themselves on the business end of a scalpel. Many see it as the newest way to bond with their wives, with some likening it to just another activity they do together, such as renovating a house.

Others are trying to keep up with their partners, whose zeal for cosmetic improvement is making the men look old by comparison. Being mistakenly referred to as your wife’s father is apparently quite the motivation. “They’re having eye jobs and forehead lifts so they don’t get traded in for a new model, said Richard Fleming, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon.