Whether you chalk it up to your dear children, a lack of sleep, on-the-job stress, or all of the above, the feeling of disbelief remains the same -- where the heck did your youth go?
The good thing is, a face-lift can do something about it. The bad thing is, you're probably scared to death to get one, lest you end up looking like Joan Rivers, Queen Bee of a select group of stars who look caught in a perpetual windstorm.
But face-lifts have come a long way in recent years, and that "overdone" (or should we say overblown) look can be prevented if your plastic surgeon knows more modern techniques -- including one in particular.
"The perception of youth and beauty is all about cheek mass," says Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. Sam T. Hamra. "When you're young, your facial fat rests high up on the cheekbone, and there's no visible eye orbital."
As we age, that pad of cheek fat drops downward with the pull of gravity, bringing with it the lower lid muscle as well as the youthful look of the face.
Traditional face-lifts have attempted to lift the skin in an upward and outward movement toward the ears. But with that much tug, the result can look stretched and unnatural, since that's not the way our skin naturally rests when we're in our 20s, says Dr. Hamra.
Targeting the deep muscles under the skin, the lower lid and the cheek are pulled in a vertically upward movement, while skin and fat that's apt to sag at the neckline is lifted upward and outward at the same time, says Dr. Hamra, who created the technique and teaches it to other plastic surgeons around the country.
And it's that lower lid of the eye that often yields the most dramatic results.
Traditional techniques remove the fat pads from under the eyes and then lift the tissue left behind -- which often results in a lifted but skeletal look for patients over time.
With the Composite Face-lift, the lower lid fat is preserved and repositioned over the orbital rim, which smoothly connects the transition from lower eyelid to cheek. It's this one area of the face that plays the most important role in a sprightly or aged appearance, says Dr. Hamra, author of "The Facelift Letdown: Why Results Don't Meet Expectations."
Because the surgeon is working on a deeper level, the face-lift takes longer to perform and longer to heal, but Dr. Hamra claims the natural-looking results are worth it, and patients will age more slowly and attractively.
The catch? You have to actually need enough work to warrant this type of face-lift.
And speaking of surgeons, you'll want to make sure you hire only the best board-certified doctor who can show you before-and-after photos of the technique in practice.
"This isn't like getting your nails done. You need to do your research and hire someone good," advises Dr. Hamra.
We're taking notes.
And if you're caught in that in-between stage with some lower face and neck sag, but not enough to warrant a face-lift, you'll want to read about this new liposuction technique.
And before you have anything done, check out these 10 signs plastic surgery isn't right for you.
Also read 10 reasons you should get a dog instead of a facelift.