Denise Thomas, a New York cosmetic surgery consultant, has matched clients with surgeons for 27 years. And while many of her clients are looking to lure the opposite sex or feel better about themselves, many seek to gain—or regain—the competitive edge in their careers. "On my website, it states: 'Youth and beauty are power tools.' People equate youth with power and money," Thomas says.
While Thomas has definite opinions on specific cosmetic procedures, her strongest recommendations are in regard to quality—she steers clients to board-certified facial plastic surgeons who use twilight anesthesia, during which the patient is sedated but remains conscious.
She recently spoke with U.S. News. Excerpts:
What procedures could benefit—or harm—a woman's career?
For a woman of 50—a face-lift: I would say face-lifts and eyes are just fabulous. The detriment is getting huge boobs or a nose job that looks like Miss Piggy, right? That would be a turnoff to anybody. What would be harmful [for your career] is going to a doctor who would give you grapefruit-sized breasts while you're working in a bank. It's not appropriate.
But I can guarantee you that the minute the woman has her face-lift, she becomes bouncier, happier—just happy with herself. She does it for herself; she's not doing it for anyone else.
So there's an effect that's a result of an internal experience?
It's very sexual. Have you ever noticed when somebody you know loses weight, and they feel and act differently?
Do men typically come in for social reasons?
They all say that it's to meet a woman. But they also say they feel that there are younger men who are like sharks in their offices now, and they feel very depressed because they can't really keep up with them. They want to look good again. Then after, they always call me—they're so happy, they say that I've just saved their life. They get a second chance.
What procedures do you recommend for men?
Men are incredible. They usually get divorced when they're around 50. Then they call me. And they're very depressed—more than women—because we get to verbalize everything with our friends, and they don't.
They want to get out there again, but they have the hooded eyes, and they have those jowls. You know how sexy a strong chin bone is on a man? As you get older, that slackens. Another thing—the love handles. So they come into me mostly for eyes, jowls, and the love handles.
What procedures would be a mistake for men?
In my opinion, a forehead lift. They can have that surprised look as if they're about to ask a question. And they look ridiculous the minute they walk in the room. And you ask yourself: How intelligent was this man? Did he check it out? Who did he go to? Because they cut you from ear to ear, and you're going to lose about an inch into the scalp. You're going to see that at 50, you're balding, right? That's a huge mistake that men make. And then they do the comb-over—that's a big mistake.
Do women ever come to you specifically for career reasons?
Mostly nowadays it's for sex, love, and money. They feel they need a second chance. Women want face-lifts: face, eyes, and neck—it's all a package. They feel they need a second chance at continuing in the workplace because often [employers] will promote the prettier woman, the more attractive woman, the woman who's easier on the eye. And you know—that's true. Beauty is powerful.