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Behind the velvet rope: Secret surgery

November 14th 2012 / Nadine Baggott


It's a given that celebrity interviewers NEVER MENTION THE FACELIFT. Here Hello! beauty editor Nadine Baggott reveals what's really going on in this grown-up game of let's pretend

As the beauty editor of Hello! I am specifically proscribed from ever, ever, ever asking a celebrity about the work that they have had done. For the 15 or 20 minutes that we chat, we together, mutually suspend disbelief. It’s a little like dealing with a child of eight around Christmas time. You know they know the truth about Santa, they suspect that you know that they know, but you just carry on and pretend.

And so I have been in the following situations:

- Interviewing a 60-year-old star about her skincare products, knowing that although she doesn’t have Botox any more that's only because one of the best face men in the business has recently given her the full works. Her hairdresser told me all about her scars.

- Chatting with a supermodel who doesn’t believe in Botox because it: "Would be like injecting toxins into your third eye," when she is known to virtually stalk one A-list skin doctor and is turned away because she can’t have any more work done.

- Being told that a Hollywood star started to sue the surgeon who gave her a brilliant facelift because the news leaked just as she was signing a lucrative cosmetics deal. Said star made a big deal out of it, the cosmetic surgeon got lots of press out of it – everyone was happy in the end.

- Endlessly chatting to celebrity women in their thirties who deny having work done even though their faces DO NOT MOVE. And yes, you know who you are.

So who tells the truth? The surgeons that’s who. Of course they sign confidentiality clauses, sneak the A-listers into their practices at 6am or 9pm via service lifts and underground parking lot back doors but, without exactly naming names, they will tell it like it is.

Case in point one Dr Norman Leaf; a truly charming, elegant and adorable man who also happens to be one of the best LA surgeons there is. A couple of years back I asked him for his advice on the fine line between skincare and Botox, non-invasive and going under the knife. "Even the best surgeon cannot work with bad skin, so great skincare is essential. But skincare can never erase lines like Botox and Botox cannot tighten or lift excess skin," he said. In other words you need all three to look as good as most Hollywood faces in their forties and fifties.

"So what do I need?" I brazenly asked him over tea at Claridge's. "Do you want the London or Hollywood answer?" he replied. "Both," I said. "In London you need a little Botox, some light laser work and you’re done. In Hollywood you would need a lower face lift to appear on screen." I was 42 at the time.

I wasn’t offended because he was being honest – and as he has virtually erased the acne scars of one of the world’s most handsome men and keeps one of Hollywood’s Oscar-winning, multi-tasking mothers looking flawless with his micro-needling, he knows what he’s talking about.

So how do you know when an A-list face has had work done, despite their protestations to the contrary? "Good work should go unnoticed," says Dr Leslie Stevens, the man who has done more great facelifts that I have written features. "But be realistic. If you see a woman who looks the same in her forties or even fifties as she did in her twenties and thirties then she’s obviously had work done."

The harsh truth is that no amount of SoulCycle or Pilates, organic juicing or skincare can achieve the ageless faces we see every day in the Sidebar of Shame that is the Daily Mail online. Because if there is one type of Father Christmas we can all believe in, it’s Surgery Santa.

PS If you want me to start naming names you must ply me with copious Caipirihinas over supper.

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