Vandana tells us about the effects and impact of cosmetic surgery she recently had done.
Two months ago I took my face to be freshened up by a plastic surgeon. While it’s not my first such experience, I expect it will be my last—in this lifetime anyway, given that this body has at most another 30 years to ‘play house’.
Apart from a few desk jobs (such as editing in Pune 1) most of my work incarnations have involved my face, body and image, particularly as a model, actress and TV presenter. So a level of ‘self-consciousness’ has been part of my stock in trade. Plus, I have always been rebellious and the very phrase ‘aging gracefully’ makes me itch.
Currently helping others with their image, I now work as a dermal therapist in the thriving industry of ‘cosmetic medicine’ where enhancing and revitalising the face and body is a normal everyday focus. We call it ‘maintenance’—repairing physical wear and tear just as you’d get your car panel beaten or house replastered.
For many sannyasins it will seem absurd to combat the ravages of time. While I also see this absurdity, I still go daily into battle with an arsenal of skincare tools and products, a foray in which I’ve invested for close to 30 years—ever since undesirable aging enzymes first began munching at my collagen fibres. Over the years, I’ve spent up big on skin care—the kind that works, not fluffy ‘organic’ lotions and potions which do diddlysquat to restructure aging skin and tissue. Sorry, dear hippies and earth children, but that’s a scientific fact.
My early investigations revealed department store and beauty salon brands to contain little but fragrance and illusion, with some further bulked up with derivatives from the petroleum industry. Yet certain ingredients and technologies can slow down, even reverse, aging. These I have hunted and devoured with enthusiasm, including starting my own skin care business in 1993.
As for Botox and fillers—fabulous, darlings! My frown lines have been banished for so long that whenever they struggle to reappear, a little jab of Botox does the trick, smoothing them away for another year. Tense and anxious versus smooth and serene? For me, it’s a no- brainer!
Yet despite continual advances in ‘anti-aging’ technology, non-surgical cosmetic treatments and skin care can only go so far. And taking the next step, going under the knife, has never daunted me. On the contrary, I find the science fascinating and surgery an adventure — the high cost of procedures being the sole inhibiting factor.
I honestly find no contradiction between being a sannyasin and tidying up the body. I’ve somehow wondered what Osho’s comment might be on this subject and expect he might say that while it has neither a positive nor negative effect on one’s awareness, why not enjoy the physical form, beautify, adorn and celebrate it while inhabiting it? Just as wearing rags and starving the body has nothing to do with spirituality, ironing out a few wrinkles, nip-and-tucking saggy skin, has zilch to do with consciousness.
Last year, the long smooth neck which had always been a feature of my face, collapsed almost overnight: it had now gone beyond Botox. ‘Not living with that!’ said I, and began checking out various surgery centres in Asia, particularly Thailand. Despite the sterling reputation of many of these hospitals, the prospect of travelling alone to an unfamiliar country, spending two weeks in a hotel and having my face sliced by an unknown Thai surgeon lacked appeal. So I decided to consult a leading Perth surgeon—choosing the one to whom my boss prefers to refer her cosmetic medical patients when she can no longer ‘fix’em with fillers’—to discuss my sagging neck. I felt an immediate liking and trust in this practitioner: warm, kind, with a lively sense of humour; he also gave me a fantastic bargain quote, due to my working in the industry, so I signed up on the spot for a neck lift in two months’ time.
My lovely boss and another doctor from her practice decided to sit in on my procedure which was done under twilight sedation with local anaesthesia in the surgeon’s day clinic. It was almost like a party! I remembered having my tubes tied in 1980 in Pune 1 by Dr Saraswati: two sannyasin friends were present, looking down the laparoscope at my soon-to-be un-reproductive system while he performed the surgery under local anaesthesia—like a mini energy darshan!
My neck surgery was similar. Warm friendly vibes filled the operating theatre; I floated blissfully under sedation though conscious all the way through, the surgeon making risqué remarks while nipping my neck. A practitioner known as much for his generosity and goodwill as his surgical skill and artistry, he gave me lots more than a neck lift. I was later amazed and hugely grateful when the bandages came off, seeing the extent of his wonderful ‘work’!
I took no pain medication following surgery though did take Arnica before and after the procedure. Any bruising was almost gone after 7 days when I returned to work!
I love my ‘new face’. It makes me happy and fits how I feel inside—which is not a ‘geriatric 65 year old lady’. While I look younger, smoother and refreshed, even my own mother has not noticed I’ve ’had work’—only commenting that I look lovely as always.
People generally don’t talk about, admit to having, Botox—let alone plastic surgery. I haven’t told my family, mostly because while they’d never judge me or disapprove, they know I am a penniless old hippy with no retirement plan and they would be worried. But I’ve decided to write about this experience, particularly for sannyasins, because for me this quite ordinary life experience is something I know scares many people. Fascinating to some, daunting—even abhorrent—to others, cosmetic surgery for me has been a wonderful walk in the park called ‘living in the body’ and has refreshed this physical form for its next 10, 20, maybe even 30 years of life on this amazing planet.
Osho spoke a lot about plastic surgery, very often in the context of changing gender. And he also said this:
“Have you ever thought about it? The shape of your face is given by the body. It can be changed by plastic surgery. And you will not be changed by the change of the face: your nose can be longer, shorter, your eyes can be different, eyebrows can be different – much can be done now. And you will remain the same. So the face is not your being, it is just the shape of your body. It is not your face. Have you got any face? Sometimes with closed eyes go deep into it… and you will be surprised to see you don’t have any face. God has no face at all – and you are gods and goddesses.
That’s why one is never contented. One can never be contented with this face, howsoever beautiful. This face is not going to satisfy you unless you come to the original face, the facelessness of your being: purity with no shape, the formless, the attributeless. The form is of matter. The form is not of consciousness; consciousness is formless. Your body is a meeting-place of the form and the formless, of matter and consciousness. Your body is a container. The contained is you, and that contained has no face. So always, any face is funny. The very idea of having a face is funny because all faces are false. Face as such is false.”
Osho, The Divine Melody, Ch 2, Q 5
Vandana, Osho News